Saturday 30 June 2012

Last Minute Reserves

With the end of the month just over an hour away, I thought I'd post a little bit of painting progress.

I have another game of Flames of War against Pete's Russians arranged for tomorrow, and to make things a little different we've gone for a Mid War clash. This leaves me with a choice: unreliable Panthers (and fewer of them) or infantry. Understandably I've gone fore a big change and opted for infantry, however this leaves me short of points.  Therefore, I've brought my platoon of Marder II tank hunters to the front of the painting queue.

A simple paint job with a wash and highlight for now. There's some detailing in the cab to finish, I still have to add crew and I may be tempted to have a go at some camouflage at some point. However, they are good enough to hit the table tomorrow.

The models are resin and from Forged in Battle and are the first I've had from that company. I really like the casting, they are really easy to assemble and if the rest of their range is as good as these, I suspect that they are more likely to gain my custom than the extortionately expensive Battlefront.

Next up is a looted Soviet KV-1 heavy tank. I'm not sure that a single slow tank is the most competitive option available, but I like the concept of having a looted tank in the army. This model is from Zvezda. Simple, cheap and ridiculously easy to assemble. A little piece of advice, widen the turret hole in the hull a touch and once they were painted, the peg got stuck in the hole and I ended up snapping it off.

It does need some more work, the tracks need more detailed highlighting and I need to do something about the hull colour. I'm also tempted to add a Nazi flag to the back to inform the Luftwaffe not to bomb it.  However, once again, good enough for the table tomorrow.

Expect a battle report in the nearish future. I've also got some FIW settlers which need only a little work to finish off, so theu should be done in the next couple of days.

Stemming the Green Tide

I didn't play any games last week as I was too busy watching England being bollocks.  However, the week before I played Tom at WFB.

As part of the club's WFB campaign, 'Maelstrom of DREADDDD', my Bretonnians found their realm rudely invaded for the second turn in succession. Last time it was a screaming mob of unwashed Sigmarites; this time a screaming mob of unwashed Greenskins. SSDD.

The army that rode out to face them was similar to last time, only smaller as Tom doesn't have enough painted to reach 2000 points. Therefore we played the Blood and Glory scenario at 1600 points.  My army was:
  • Level 4 Prophetess (Heavens), BSB, 8 Knights of the Realm, 5 Knights Errant, 30 Men at Arms, 20 Peasant Archers, Grail Reliquae & 19 Battle Pilgrims, 3 Pegasus Knights Field Trebuchet. My army had a healthy fortitude of 8.
Here's Tom's Green Horde, including a mounted Black Orc Warboss, 3 Wizards and a BSB (yes, he was stretching for points), and a fortitude of only 5:

The terrain we generated included a Wyrdling Well, a Wizard's Tower, a Temple of Skulls, a Sinister Statue,  two Mysterious Marshes, a Settlement of Order and lots of fences.  Given the preponderance of obstacles I deployed in the more open ground to my right with only the Pegasus Knights out on the left to swing round a flank. Tom deployed in a compact formation in the centre, trying to get as clear a run as possible to my lines.

I knew Tom would make haste towards my lines and so my plan was to await his arrival and use the Trebuchet, Archers and magic to thin his numbers as they advanced (I figured that the Sinister Statue my help out here too).  The Pegasus Knights would go wizard hunting and march-blocking.  When the main attack arrived, I would present the Men at Arms and the grail Reliquae as tar pits for his big block of Savage Orcs and use my Knights to drive off the rest and then descend on the Orcs' rear.

The game began as expected. The Orcs advanced at a jog and my missiles and magic inflicted limited casualties and barring his Night Goblins failing an animosity test and bickering for a turn, there was nothing I could do to slow him down.  Not only that, a sneaky use of the Hand of Mork had moved the Savage Orcs in a position to turn my flank if I wasn't careful. By the end of his turn 2 he was in position to charge with almost his entire army and rob my Knights of their major strength. 

With the enemy about to pounce, I did what any Bretonnian would do, I sounded the charge. The Knights Errant ploughed into the Squig-Hoppers (although due to magic they would be attacking last); the BSB and Knights of the Realm levelled their lances at the Araknarok; the Pegasus Knights flew into the flank of the bickering Goblins; and the Men at Arms (who'd had the Prayer Icon of Quenelles used on them in turn one) moved to face the Savage Orcs with the Grail Reliquae in support.  My Prophetess buffed and hexed her socks off in the hope of turning the green tide.

The Knights Errant, were savagely chomped before they got to strike and only the champion survived (amazingly he passed his leadership test). Both the Knights of the Realm and the Pegasus Knights won their respective combats and even with their opponents being Steadfast or Stubborn, I was sure one of them would break. I was wrong. Tom passed both tests (Leadership 6!) and I'd shot my bolt.  It felt like I was about to be crushed.

The Savage Orcs crashed into the Men at Arms and began hacking away with a ridiculous number of attacks. However, the Orcs' increased strength on the charge worked against them as it improved the Bretonnians' ward save and allowed them to remain Steadfast as the Orcs were deployed wide; they held.  Meanwhile, in an amazing reversal of fortune, the remaining Knight Errant somehow defeated the unit of Squig Hoppers, put them to flight and ran them down, whilst the Knights of the Realm again defeated the Araknarok, which also broke, ran and was destroyed.  The Pegasus Knights lost their combat (having lost the benefit of charging) but stayed in the fight. From the pits of despair to the heights of possibility, this game was swinging back and forth like an instrument of torture in an Edgar Allen Poe story.

In my turn the Grail Reliquae moved to intercept the Savage Orcs when they inevitably broke the Men at Arms in the subsequent combat and the Knights of the Realm turned to threaten the rear of the Orcs.  The last Knight Errant, his work complete, dismounted and sat on the hill to watch the rest of the battle.  The Prophetess used all of her magic to try to keep the Men at Arms alive, but it wasn't enough, heavy casualties caused the loss of Steadfast and they were run down, the Savage Orcs crashed into the Grail Reliquae which avoided panicking due to the proximity of the BSB. Meanwhile, the Night Goblins finally broke the Pegasus Knights, held back from pursuit and reformed to face the flank of the Knights.  Things suddenly looked ropey again.

The Goblins charged the Knights, the Savage Orcs set about hacking up the Battle Pilgrims and the Warboss rode around to threaten a charge on the Prophetess and Archers. However, the Goblins had no answer to Bretonnian plate armour and the presence of the BSB saw them lose the combat; whilst the Battle Pilgrims, although battered, stubbornly refused to give ground to the barbaric Orcs.

Another turn rolled around, and the Archers reformed to present ranks to the advancing Warboss. The Prophetess wisely abandoned the unit to hide behind it and began buffing and hexing again to keep the Grail Reliquae in play. I was sure that the Archers could hold the Warboss on his own, but if the Savage Orcs waded in, they game could be lost.  In combat, more Pilgrims died and only the Reliquae itself survived (but it was enough), and the Knights broke the Goblins. With a BSB and a Standard in the unit, I decided to pursue rather than threaten the Orcs. The peasants would have to look after themselves.

With a single turn remaining, everything was still to play for. Tom had only three points of fortitude remaining, the loss of either his Savage Orcs (unlikely) or his Warboss (possible if he charged the archers alone) would hand me the game.  Meanwhile, I was a little more secure. I had a fortitude of six and Tom would have to destroy the Reliquae and the Peasants and hope that my Prophetess panicked off the table.

To his credit, Tom tried to play for the win and charged his Warboss into the Peasants. Impact hits and a big choppa did enough to force a test, but the Peasants held thanks to the presence of their General.  The Savage Orcs dispensed with the Reliquae but they were unable to contribute anything else.

In my turn, the Peasants (supported by magic) fought back against the Warboss and beat him in combat due to their ranks. He stood firm.  Surveying the field from the back of his boar he reailised his warband had been reduced to a dozen Orcs and realised he would need to mass his forces again if he was to destroy the humans.

Victory points surprisingly revealed a sizeable victory to me. I hadn't noticed during the game, but Tom had actually destroyed very little, despite inflicting lots of casualties, and could only claim points for the Men at Arms and the Reliquae (the Pegasus Knights had rallied just in time). On the other hand, I had destroyed the Araknarok, the Night Goblins (including two characters and a captured BSB) and the Squig Hoppers, and one of the Savage Orc Shamans had kindly killed himself. As it was the score flattered me, it was a close game and I'm well aware that had the Squig Hoppers not fluffed their attacks against the Knight Errant Champion, Tom would not only have gained the points for the Knights, but would also have had a unit free to gobble up the Trebuchet and the Archers. Narrow margins indeed.

In retrospect, I think I did the right things, although I'd probably have the Grail Reliquae on the flank rather than the Men at Arms as they really need the presence of a BSB and General to hold an attack.  Luck was dealt out in equal measure but I think that appropriate use of the Lore of Heavens allowed me to mitigate bad dice at key moments. Tom wasn't really able to get his magic going which helped, indeed the two times he did get important spells cast (the Hand of Mork to flank me and whatever it was that shafted the Knights Errant) almost turned the game. Having a Level four pitched against Level twos really held him in check.
Overall this was a great game and the campaign is going well for me. However, I am fully aware that both opponents have suited my counter-attacking style and I suspect that a game against a less direct opponent may cause me greater problems.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Muskets and T-34's

As promised, some painting.

I've recently bought Muskets & Tomahawks, a skirmish game for the French and Indian War and the American War of Independence. Now, I'm not particularly into either of these periods, although I have been looking for a system for the War of 1812 for some time. As most Napoleonic rule sets focus on bigger battles that occurred in the War of 1812 (not to mention not including rules for Native Americans), Muskets & Tomahawks seems to fit the bill for me.

As it will take time to paint up the British and American forces for the conflict, I decided to begin by focussing on some settlers and Native Americans so that I could get some games played on a small scale. So far I've only done a handful of settlers (apologies for the poor picture quality).

First up, the womenfolk (some are more timid than others):

Fortunately, here's some gallant menfolk to protect them from the savages:

I've got about two dozen Natives and a handful of US Infantry to work. Expect to see them soon...I'll also get the bases done.

Last week I also played a game of Flames of War against Pete that had been put off for quite a while. I was fielding my Pantherkompanie (8 Panthers backed up by a Recon platoon, a Pioneer platoon and some sporadic air support).  Pete was fielding Russian Tankovy; I'm not sure what his tanks were but there were 7 big ones and 17 smaller ones (T-34's) and a small unit of Mechanised Infantry).  The scenario was Fighting Withdrawal and I was defending so I deployed first; having kampfgrupped two Panthers with the 2iC I was able to put 2 Panthers into Ambush and hopefully be able to respond if Pete massed on one flank.

On the left I had the Command tank and a platoon of two Panthers facing off against a veritable tide of iron.

In the centre, the pioneers took up position in a cornfield to protect an objective from assault.  The also had cunningly placed a minefield in front of the objective; this actually dissuaded Pete from ever making a move for the centre.

On the right, I had the recon platoon dismounted in a cornfield to guard another objective, and they were backed up by the 2iC's platoon of three Panthers.

The Russian horde began to advance steadily on both flanks, taking casualties from concentrated Panther fire as they came.

The arrival of my ambushing platoon of Panthers, allowed me to inflict a devastating barrage that all but wiped out the company of T-34's on the right.

In return, the Recon platoon and the 2iC's Panthers took heavy losses from the Russian heavy tanks. However, the need for accuracy prevented the heavies from advancing.

Meanwhile, on the left I was failing to inflict enough casualties and the Russian armoured infantry raced around my flank and dismounted ready to assault. Fortunately, I was able to pin them and they kindly decided to fail their motivation roll to un-pin.

However, the Russian advance continued apace, slowed only by the fact that the armoured infantry failed to un-pin again. Nevertheless, it seemed only a matter of time before they made a push towards the objective. It seemed like all was lost.

Then the cavarly arrived...well, the Luftwaffe. Not only did my Stukas arrive to carpet bomb the T-34's, but my Pioneers machine-gunned the Russian infantry into submission and the Panthers finally won their duel with the Russian heavy tanks.  Three failed motivation checks later and the Russians were below half strength, a fourth failed test and the Russians retreated, the battle was won.

This game was a load of fun and it was great to finally match my Panthers against something other than a horde of infantry. It was touch and go at the end, as due to fact I was having to remove units, I only had a single Panther left on the right to hold up the Russian heavy tanks that had begun to move. I'm also conscious that I was saved by three factors: the timely arrival of my aircraft, Pete not advancing as quickly as he could have and the fact that he didn't roll a successful motivation test all game.

I confidently expect aircraft, artillery and the squeal of wheels the next time we play.

Saturday 9 June 2012

So, it's been a while...

Without being boring, a variety of factors have kept me away from painting and blogging during May. This has prompted rumours of my departure from the blogosphere, however, you'll be delighted to know, that it was simply a temporary hiatus and normal service is about to be restored.

Despite the lack of other activity, I have managed to squeeze a few games in over the past month and this post is all about a quick catch up of my gaming activities.

Way back at the end of April, having got my hands on the Saga Expansion, Northern Fury, I took part in a four-player game of the new scenario, Wooden Oaths. I was using my Vikings as Jomsvikings for a bit of a change and my ally, at least initially, was Pete with his Vikings. Across the table were Matt and his Normans, and Mal and his Saxons.  here's the initial deployment:

Pete advanced some of his force towards Mal's line, whilst the rest move towards me. I was wary of this as Wooden Oaths gives players the chance to switch sides at a moment's notice, and so a bit of backstabbing was possibly on the cards.

Meanwhile, keeping a wary eye on Pete, I charged headlong towards the cowardly, crossbow wielding Normans.  Matt very kindly kept stopping my abilities and so ran my Wrath up nice and early.


Pleasantly, Pete didn't betray me, but he did clobber a unit of Matt's cavalry leaving both sides exposed and vulnerable. Never one to avoid an opportunity to be a bastard, in the following turn I charged both Matt and Pete. It was on this turn that we all discovered that Jomsvikings at full Wrath are utter filth. The following turn, to avoid payback, I changed sides again and we all had a friendly chat atop a hill strewn with bodies until the end of turn four when it became every man for himself.

Meanwhile, faced with only half Pete's force, Mal finally attacked and sent the Vikings scurrying back to Norway.

With Pete neutralised, Matt and engaged in a brutal slugging match to see who could die last.

However, with Pete out of the game and Matt and I exhausted, there was nothing to stop Mal's relatively untouched force from claiming victory.

Overall this game was a load of fun and I heartily recommend Wooden Oaths for multi-player games. I'm also glad that I've got an alternative to my Vikings for Saga. The Jomsvikings play differently enough to give variation to my games of Saga until my Bretons get done and there's a brutal pleasure to be taken from watching your opponent struggle with the decision of whether they want to stop the face-stomping now and run up your Wrath, knowing that they are simply enabling a worse face-stomping later.

Early May saw me playing my first game in the club WFB campaign (blog here) which is based on the new campaign book, Blood in the Badlands. Having chosen my starting realm (I'm green) to be close to the Summer Isles, the objective for the first season, I was suddenly threatened on several sides by High Elves, Empire, Orcs and Tomb Kings. Players only fight one battle per turn, so I was matched against Matt's Empire army that had invaded my kingdom.

My Prophetess, Lady Visenya marshalled the peasant levy to muster around the edge of a small hamlet, and despatched a large contingent of Knights to the flank to sweep around the enemy force, which was themed around Matt's War Altar and so thankfully lacked war machines.

The frenzied Sigmarites, led by their 'Arch-Lector', advanced at a pace, but took hea.vy casualties from the Bretonnian arrows and artillery (19 in one shot from the Trebuchet). The Knights Errant swept away the enemy skirmishers whilst the Knights of the Realm and Pegasus Knights thundered into the Inner Circle Knights and ran them down (whist taking a total of zero casualties from the dangerous terrain).

The remains of the Empire host continued towards Visenya in the village, aided by a successful of Final Transmutation that threatened to destroy the Men at Arms, and for a brief moment it seemed that my general might fall beneath the warhammer of the Arch-Lector, until the Paladin stepped up to meet the challenge. With the enemy charge held, the Knights' encircling manoeuvre was complete and they fell like an avalanche on to the rear of the enemy host, routing them and running them down.

In short, I won. But it was one of 'those' games where if it could go wrong for Matt, it did. I destroyed his whole army; he killed about twenty of my models. Here's a picture of the end of the game.  Matt's army is that unit of 15 militia in the middle:

My final game of the month was against...Matt again! This time we played another battle in our ongoing VBCW campagin. Once again the Wortley Militia and their B.U.F. allies would be taking on the Handsworth Volunteers.  We didn't particularly have a story for this game, it was one of many skirmishes during the civil war.

As we were using our bastardised version of 40k for the game, we also used a 40k mission: take and hold.  With two objectives, one in the town and the other in a small cottage along the road near the edge of the table, we would have to split our forces. Matt massed his infatry, supported by his improvised transports in the centre.

To his left, his artillery stolen from the local regiment, was placed to support his strike force attacking the cottage.


The Wortley Dragon, my improvised tank, steamed up the road and began to pour fire (to not much effect actually) on the Handsworth centre.

Whilst the Wortley Militia made their way across the cornfields towards the cottage.  However, they were pinned down at the fence line and came under heavy artillery fire.

Meanwhile, the B.U.F. push into the town, firstly met heavy fire and were then hit with a charge by the Handsworth Sword Dancers. Taking refuge behind the wreckage of their vehicles, the B.U.F. drove of the cavalry and pressed on towards their objective.

However, the destruction of the Wortley Militia and the failure of the Dragon to seize the initiative saw the cottage fall into the hands of the Handsworth men.

Realising that time was running out, the B.U.F. mounted a desperate final push saw to take the town. Despite infliciting terrible casualties on the enemy, a single vehicle contested the objective and the day belonged to Handsworth.

Once again the light-hearted setting of VBCW made for a fun game and saw sentences uttered that had never before graced the English language: "the Lewis guns on the bus with open fire on the Rington's Tea Van." What's more, I feel that our games continue to show that the rules for Warhammer 40k are actually fast, fun and balanced when you actually stop trying to balance things with special rules and points.

This week will see me playing Flames of War against Pete in our long-delayed 'tank-off'. My next post will also demonstrate that I've actually been doing some painting too.