Sunday, 22 March 2020

The Right Tool For The Job

Continuing with my drive to finish off ongoing Bolt Action projects, I've returned to the Fallschirmjager to add some support options to address specific battlefield concerns. To this end I've completed a sniper team, a Panzerschrek team and a recoilless light howitzer.

Too many infantry heading your way? What you need is some artillery!

The only artillery, beyond a few mortars, available in Fallschirmjager specific theatre selectors is the 75mm LG40 recoilless light gun.

Amusingly, this model has a gun shield but the gun doesn't have one in the game rules. This is in sharp contrast to my Soviet MMG which has the gun shield rule but the has a gun shield that would struggle to protect an anemic squirrel.

Enemy armour bearing down on your position? Why not try to hit them in the flank with a Panzerschrek?

Without armoured support of their own and the artillery slot being occupied by the LG40, the Fallschirmjager will have to rely on man-packed anti-tank options to repel enemy tanks. I discovered in a game against Matt that the anti-tank rifle really isn't up to the job.

For some reason, I've only recently found my Soviets on the receiving end of Panzerschreks, and given that experience, I'm looking forward to see what carnage this pair can cause.

Is there a weapons team you absolutely have to silence? Or an enemy officer being just that bit too motivational? Why not introduce them to a sniper?

Although you can arguably use any rifleman as a sniper and get away with it, it's nice to have a dedicated and identifiable unit to prevent confusion.

Snipers vary in their effectiveness, and a veteran sniper could turn out to be that bit too expensive, however, it's nice to have options.

All of these models are from Warlord Games and, too be honest, I have mixed feelings about them. Although detailed and well sculpted, there was lots of flash to clean up, sometimes in places where it was difficult to do so without damaging the model. I much prefer the clean simplicity of the Artizan or Crusader models, however, they don't do the same range of weapons teams.

I've got another dozen models to go, most of them plastic, before I'm calling this army done, so expect to see more in the coming weeks.

I'm counting that as eight painted (the gun is a separate model) and I bought a couple of pieces for an Operation Sealion project that you might see in the coming weeks too, depending if I can get a few things for it via the post.

Acquired: 108
Painted: 73

As a separate note, these are uncertain times we're living through, and so I hope you are all well and stay that way. I'm now working from home, which should mean that I'll have some more time (n case my employer is reading, this is because I'm not commuting, obvs) to get more painting done, which might provide a bit of distraction for you in the weeks ahead.

Take care.

Friday, 6 March 2020

Dropzone: First Contact

Our 'Battle For Earth' campaign continues...

After a failed attempt to seize the orbital defence network as a precursor for invasion, Pete's UCM land a small insertion force in what was once Nairobi with the aim of accessing key Intel about the Scourge defences.

The force dispatched was led by a Wolf command vehicle and was supported by 3 Katana assault tanks. Three units of Legionnaires were dispatched in Raven light dropships to seize the objectives quickly, and a sizeable contingent of air cover was provided in the form of 3 Rapiers and 4 Wolverines. 2 Condors provided fast transport for the slow moving tanks.

As soon as the incursion was detected, the Scourge diverted a rapid reaction force led by an experienced Despot command walker, carried by an Intruder light dropships. Three Marauders carried the standard compliment of 3 Hunter assault skimmers, 3 Reaper AA skimmers and 2 Invader transports each carrying a squad of Scourge Warriors.

Early maneuvers saw both forces deploying their infantry to grab objectives quickly. The UCM grabbed the two closest to them, whilst the Scourge infantry, limited to a single dropship, secured two objectives on the right flank, whilst deploying their skimmers to defend the unclaimed objectives on the left with the aim of switching across later before the UCM could strike that far.

First blood went to the Scourge when deepstriking Hunters displayed incredibly precise and powerful plasma to incinerate the entire Kantana squad. This was followed up when a squad of Warriors obliterated the UCM commander with focused plasma rifle fire.

The UCM infantry moved quickly and secured a third objective, however a wall of Scourge stood between them and their final target. The Marauders and Intruder poured plasma fire into the building in an attempt to repel them to no avail.

The Hunter squad continued to rampage forwards, pushing back the Reapers away from the Scourge transports. The Despot scuttled out to ambush the Wolverines, but failed to harm them in spectacular fashion.

This ineptitude didn't last, though, and the Wolverines and the Reapers were all destroyed shortly afterwards. Squads of Legionnaires tried to retaliate from nearby buildings with limited success, taking out a single Hunter.

Meanwhile, a single squad of Warriors had vacated a building, which had almost been brought down by Reaper fire, boarded their Invader and embarked on a Marauder. Their mission: to get across to the remaining objective before the UCM could get to the target.

With the Reapers pushed back, the only things that could stop them were a single Falcon gunship and the possibility of Pete rolling a 6 for initiative on the following turn (by this time I had a massive Command advantage).

Needless to say, a 6 wasn't rolled, and the slim chance of the Falcon's AA reaction fire failed to bring down the Marauder, and so the Warriors seized the final objective.

To add injury to insult, the final objective turned out to be a critical location.

With the Scourge handily already grouped around the area, the UCM not having a real chance of damaging Scourge vehicles and any attempt to strike at the objective likely to result in light dropships succumbing to AA fire, Pete decided to withdraw, leaving the final score at 4-3 to me.

A successful first outing for my Scourge was characterised by a little bit of tactical thinking backed up with a healthy dose of good fortune:
  • Pete losing his two hardest hitting units to frankly offensively good dice at the start of the game put him on the back foot straight away. To be fair, neither of us knew that Scourge units hit that hard.
  • My strategy of defending an objective to be collected later offset the disadvantage my infantry had in mobility, but was massively aided by the fact that the final objective turned out to be the only critical location (we rolled each time an objective was taken).
  • I had a CV4 commander due to not painting enough models, and this gave me a tactical advantage in the end game when rolling for initiative became crucial.
After two surprising victories, I now take a 4-0 lead into the next game, which will be a Dropfleet battle with both fleets arriving piecemeal.

Apparently we will need to bombard ground targets, and I don't have any ships that do that. Fortunately I have a single sprue of Frigates left unassembled that are making their way to the shipyard as I type.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Something For The Weekend

I've built a shed.

The shed is from Sarissa Precision and I got it free for participating in last year's great wargaming survey. There was a choice of this, some Rubicon tank commanders or some plastic holdings. I chose the shed as it could serve as terrain for VBCW, Operation Sealion or even 7TV Pulp.

It actually goes well with the cottage I've had for years and I decided to base it with an allotment and a couple of pumpkins I had lying around (as you do) to add a little colour.

I still feel there's something missing and it feels a bit bare, so I'll probably have a bit of a rummage in the bits box fir tools or boxes that could add to it.

This week I took delivery of another 12 Crooked Dice miniatures I bought with my voucher from Board in Brum, along with another custom sculpt for Masters of the Universe, so this week is very much in the red.

Acquired: 106 
Painted: 65

Btw - Bonus internet points for the first to identify the link between the post and the title.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Quality or Quantity?

I'm really pleased to have finished off the last of the unpainted Soviets in my to do list, even though I hadn't intended to...more on that later.

First up is a Warlord Games IS-2, a heavy tank with a big, big gun.

The kit was straightforward enough to assemble, but I'm constantly mystified with these kits why the turret (not including the gun) and tracks come in several pieces when Rubicon are able to do similar models with single piece turrets and tracks.

In terms of painting, I've kept things simple, as with the rest of my Soviet tanks. However, as well as adding the white stripe on the turret to indicate a Guards regiment, I've also grubbied up the transfers with paint chips to indicate wear and tear.

I like ho this has turned out and will probably do the same with the rest of my vehicles soon, as it's a pretty quick job.

The IS-2 packs a heavy anti-tank gun, 3 MMGs (one of which is rear facing) and a pintle mounted HMG. 

The price for all these toys is that this can't be the first unit I activate in a turn. I'll get a chance to see whether this is a problem or not in a game I'm playing against Matt tomorrow.

The infantry are the remains of a Plastic Soldier Company box I bought before I even played Bolt Action. The models are of dubious quality and include some bizarre poses.

I hadn't intended to paint them at all, but I spilt a load of khaki paint when I was basecoating the other infantry I painted earlier in the week, and not wanting to waste the paint, I quickly grabbed these models and slapped it on them as an undercoat.

They'll never be my favourites, but as was commented on one of my earlier posts, you can never have too many Russians. Also, it means I've added ten models to the painted pile (and reduced my acquired total by one as I threw another one away).

Acquired: 93
Painted: 64

With the Soviets done I'm now going to moving on to another unfinished (in fact, unstarted) project as I'm quite enjoying the sense of completion I'm feeling right now.

Friday, 21 February 2020

The Reconquest begins...sort of...

Pete and I finally got our Dropfleet/Dropzone 'Battle For Earth' campaign underway with the UCM launching an assault on Earth's defensive space stations as a prelude to the main landings, and the Scourge overlords of Earth racing to intercept the fleet and deny the humans their staging posts.

Our fleets were 700 points each and, as it has been a long time since either of us had played, were constructed with an 'I hope this works' mentality.

I plumped for a Hydra Fleet Carrier as my flagship, and a slew of Gargoyle Strike Carriers to try to seize control of the space stations. To do the fighting, I plumped for a battlegroup of two Yokai Light Cruisers and a squadron of Djinn Assault Frigates.

Pete had gone a bit more militant in that he had a Cruiser (sorry, I don't know most of the names of the UCM ships) as his flagship, and had also plumped for a bunch of Strike Carriers and a pair of Light Cruisers. He'd complemented these with a squadron of Toulon Frigates and a pair of the new Destroyers.

The opening turns saw our strike carriers making straight for the space stations and my Djinn squadron rushing directly towards the enemy, but falling short of being able to do much more than destroy a single Strike Carrier and leave themselves in range of the entire UCM fleet.

However, a combination of terrible attack rolls from Pete and us completely mucking up rolls on the crippling damage table saw the Djinn survive the barrage. What's more, when the Destroyers launched torpedoes at two of my Strike Carriers, we got the rules for shaking them off wrong too and they were got rid of rather than delayed.

To add injury to insult, on the Djinns' following turn they turned abruptly and ripped apart a UCM Light Cruiser in close action.

In the race for the space stations, I used the Gargoyles' speed to get control of three of them, bringing their mass drivers and burn-through lasers into action. Pete grabbed one of the space stations, and on the final one we both landed troops and a mutually destructive ground assault was fought.

The UCM Destroyers made their presence felt by using their remaining torpedoes to destroy one of my Yokai, and they then got into close action with a Gargoyle, destroying it.

The Strike Carriers of both sides were prime targets as, without the protection of dropping into atmosphere, they were sitting ducks and the key to victory. A combination of space station guns and the Hydra Fleet Carrier finished off three UCM Strike Carriers trying to seize control of one of the space stations the Scourge held.

Unfortunately, the Hydra was destroyed by an explosion of one of the UCM ships. It had been crippled by a Barrage from the Toulons earlier.

My remaining Yokai finally got into the fight by finishing of the over-extended Destroyers by flying into the face of the Toulons.

However, the Toulons were dealt with in short order by the Djinns coming in behind them, who were in turn taken out by the UCM flagship.

This put the Yokai in prime position to go 'weapons free' and destroy the not only the UCM flagship, but the remaining Toulon too.

With only one Light Cruiser left Pete conceded. There was a good chance that it would win a fight with my remaining damaged ships, but without any Strike Carriers he would struggle to also shift the Scourge ground troops in the space stations and prevent me scoring enough points to win in the final round.

I'm fully aware that our mistakes early in the game affected Pete more than me and probably cost him the game, but this was a good relearning game. What's more, my victory means that our next game in the campaign will be of Dropzone Commander, and looking at what is required of my currently meagre army, I'm not hopeful of a second victory.

I might need to paint some more stuff.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Zis is getting silly

Just in case an extra anti-tank rifle and a Zis-3 wasn't enough, let's add a Zis-2 and some Tank Riders, bristling with grenades and panzerfausts.

The Zis-2 is, like the Zis-3, a 1st Corps 1/48 model I got from Matt, crewed with some Warlord plastic Soviets that came with my tanks.

Unlike the Zis-3, it doesn't have the capability to be used as a light howitzer, but with one less crew, it is a bit cheaper. However, this is likely to be an underused piece, except in theatre selectors that allow two artillery pieces) in my army as the Zis-3 is always going to seem a better choice.

Nevertheless, the decision to not base the crew and gun together does mean that the Zis-2 may be used elsewhere. In fact, I've been toying with the idea of starting a Chinese army, and the Communists have access to these anti-tank guns later in the war, so it may not end up being totally unloved.

With the remaining Warlord plastics, I wanted to fill some gaps in my army. One if which was that I had no miniatures armed with both SMGs and anti-tank options. This meant that my Tank Riders (which must have SMGs) could not be used against enemy armour. These three models fix that problem.

Finally, these four add to my total number of SMG armed troops, opening the way to potentially having two units of Tank Riders. This could be extremely useful in Tank War games, where everything has to have a space on some sort of transport, increasing the amount of infantry I can take.

Another 11 models done, and only an IS-2 and another batch of infantry to go for my Soviets.

Acquired: 94
Painted: 54

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Zis should be fun.

Due to a series of difficult to explain circumstances involving Matt purchasing some palm trees, I've returned to my Soviet army for Bolt Action.

Ong time readers will possibly remember that I've 'finished' the Soviet army several times. However, new models have a way of working their way into my possession and so I've made the decision to finish off all the remaining Soviet models in my backlog (again), starting with this Zis-3 anti-tank gun and anti-tank rifle team.

The Zis-3 is actually something I've been wanting to add to my army for some time due to the fact that the artillery slot in my force has been occupied since day one by a measly 45mm light anti-tank gun. The Zis-3 is not only a medium anti-tank gun, but can also be fired as a light howitzer, making it much more versatile. The 45mm gun will still get use in early war scenarios.

The model is actually a 1/48 1st Corps I traded with Matt when he won it as part of the most eclectic prize ever at the Wargames Illustrated 7TV day. The crew are Warlord plastic Soviets that I've posed to match the Warlord metal crew as much as possible.

I normally base team weapons on a single base, but the size of this would make it unwieldy on a circular base that it would fit on. It will also make storing it easier.

The plastic models I used for the crew are from two sprues that came with the KV-1 I got last year and the IS-2 I got last Christmas as a secret Santa gift from Pete (there are those that suspect Pete got me an IS-2 because it added an extra 8 models to my acquired pile...).

As I was building the crew anyway, I took the opportunity to make a third anti-tank rifle team because...well...I could. Although they don't really threaten most tanks, they are good for dealing with transports and add extra order dice into the pot.

7 models painted is not bad, but I've also taken the opportunity to offload a some of the free Wargames  Illustrated via ebay (18 in total).

Acquired: 94
Painted: 43

Be warned, the next few posts might be a bit Soviet-centric, I've got quite a bit to do.