Sunday 28 January 2018

Out Of The Blue

Less than a month into the new year and I’ve already started a new army.

These are the beginning of a German Fallschirmjager (paratroopers) force for Bolt Action. I’ve procrastinated about started a new army for Bolt Action for a long time, and have actually already bought (well, most of it was a freebie) and sold a German army before even assembling it.

However beginning the Operation Sea Lion campaign has prodded me into action as some of the scenarios feature Fallschirmjager landings and as none of us already had them, that was all the impetus I needed.

As an added bonus the Fallschirmjager were present in pretty much all areas of the war in Europe and so they’ll be suitable against numbers of opponents. What’s more, being a veteran force means I won’t need many of them, in fact, these 12 already make a legal 250 point force, so it won’t take much to get them to a playable level, which always help with motivation.

I’ve been quite wary of German forces, gauntly due to the use of camouflage, however, I’m quite happy with how this has come out. I found a painting guide done by Artizan Designs (the manufacturer) of these models and have been able to get a close approximation of one of the official Fallschirmjager camp patterns.

One thing I have done is use brighter colours than I should, such as the base brown of the camo smock, and the blue of the Luftwaffe uniforms. My aim with this is twofold, I wanted to create contrast so that details like the camo pattern could be seen, and I tend to shade with washes rather than highlight up, so I was keen to begin with a brighter base.

I’m sure there are some that will question my use of silver for the weapons, as they were likely nearer black. However, this is purely personal preference as again I wanted contrast. However, the MP-40 sub machine guns above may need revisiting with another layer or two of black wash, as they are a bit shiny.

As I was building this army for Operation Sea Lion in 1940, I was intending for this to be an early war force. However, when I piped into my FLGS (Wargames Emporium), they only had a few packs of Fallschirmjager available, one of which featured FG-42 assault rifles (below) which were introduced long after the invasion of Britain was cancelled. In early war games I’ll just treat them as regular rifles.

The plan now is to pick up a few more packs of miniatures at Vapnartak next week. I’m going to stick to metal miniatures from Artizan Designs, Crusader Miniatures and Wargames Foundry because I genuinely prefer painting metal, I have lost all patience for assembling plastic, and buying 30 minis in one go will probably overface me and make me give up.

Bite-sized chunks is the key.

Monday 22 January 2018

Russian The Objective

Greeting comrades!

As you may remember, I used some money of the money I was fortunate to receive from Santa to buy a Soviet BA-6 Armoured Car from Warlord Games for the glorious knockdown price of £10 (thanks to the judicious application of vouchers and free shipping offers). Well, here it is...

Nothing too special in terms of painting, but it was a fun kit to build and I finally added some transfers to one of my vehicles - although I can’t shake the feeling that the starts look like targets (more on that later).

I also took the opportunity to use spare transfers to spruce up my truck and my SU-76. The SU-76 is having some more work done on it, but here’s the truck.

This sudden flurry of activity on the Eastern Front was prompted by a 750 point game of Bolt Action against Pete’s Germans. We used Operation Barbarossa lists (that’s 1941) and I decided to go for a ‘red horde’ approach by using a lot of inexperienced units.

My army was as follows:
  • Inexperienced Second Lieutenant & 1 man
  • Inexperienced LMG Squad (12 men)
  • Inexperienced LMG Squad (12 men)
  • Inexperienced Rifle Squad (12 men)
  • Regular NKVD Squad (8 men)
  • Regular MMG Team
  • Regular Anti-Tank Rifle Team
  • Regular 45mm Anti-Tank Gun
  • Regular Medium Mortar Team
  • Anti-Tank Mine Dog Team (2 men)
  • Regular Truck
  • Regular BA-6 Armoured Car
Pete had something along the lines of:
  • Regular Second Lieutenant & 1 man
  • Regular Heer Squad (8 men)
  • Regular Heer Squad (8 men)
  • Regular Heer Squad (8 men)
  • Regular Heer Squad (8 men)
  • Regular MMG Team
  • Regular Light Howitzer
  • Regular Sd.Kfz 222 Armoured Car
  • Regular Panzer I Tank

The mission was ‘Top Secret’ which meant we had to try to get the objective from outside the house and of our own table edge. In the first turn we both struggled to get some units on, my AT Gun, AT Rifle and NKVD Squad all failed orders tests, whilst Pete’s Howitzer and MMG Team weren’t too keen to enter the fray. In fact Pete’s MMG Team continuously failed to come on until the very last turn.

Here’s the state of play at the end of the first turn...

Both of us had opted to push our infantry forwards in a surge towards the objective. Meanwhile, my BA-6 has suffered the curse of new models and completely missed a flank shot on the Panzer I, before being one-shotted by the Sd.Kfz 222.

I’d pushed a truckload if inexperienced troops up the road towards the objective. In retrospect I probably should have gone further onto the objective earlier in the turn and aimed to snatch it before the Germans got into position. As it was the truck was destroyed at the beginning of turn two and the troops took a couple of turns to shake their pins.

By the end of turn two my infantry was massing near the objective whilst the German squads used fire and move tactics to move up and put irritating pins on my ill-trained rabble.

By this point there weren’t really any vehicles left in the game as the curse of new models struck Pete, and the Panzer I was detonated by a single mine dog, and the Sd.Kfz 222 was hit by a mortar shell, pinning it enough to essentially take it out of the game. It would survived to the end but didn’t pass any orders tests. Pete realised he should have been rallying it too late.

On turn three my Anti-Tank Gun showed up, but with no vehicles left to worry about it began pumping shells into the side of the house.

Casualties began to mount as we began the struggle for the objective in earnest. My squad on the right poured fire onto a German Squad which had broken cover to attack my Rufke squad, almost destroying them.

The aforementioned Rifle squad had made a break for the objective, but was shot from several directions and assaulted by the Germans in the house, leaving the objective in German hands.

And so began the desparate race to stop the German escape. I assaulted and wiped out the unit in front of the building, but not before they had handed the objective off to the squad that followed them into the house.

I fired everything I could at the retreating Germans, desperate to get even a single pin that might cause them to fail an orders test, however it was to no avail.

When Pete moved a squad across into the line of fire towards his unit that was retreating with the objective, there was no longer anything I could do.

At the start of turn five, the Germans moved the objective off the board to win.

Ultimately, it was a close game. Me being a bit more aggressive at the beginning, orders dice coming out in a different sequence, or just a little bit of luck in that final round of shooting could have changed everything.

What I have learned is that inexperienced troops aren’t as bad in 2nd edition Bolt Action as they used to be, mainly due to the changes to the rally action. I may aim to ask more of my free Rifle Squad in future outings. 

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Operation Sea Lion: D-1, Brandenburger Coastal Raid

20th September, 1940, a combined Franco-Italian fleet stage a diversionary action at the western end of the English Channel, with the aim of drawing the Royal Navy away from protecting the vulnerable south-east coast of England. The way is clear for invasion the following day, and the unstoppable forces of the Wehrmacht stand ready to trample another nation under its already well-travelled boots.

That evening, ahead of the invasion force, covert teams of Brandenburgers, Fallschirmjager and elite Heer units set out to strike at vital targets along the coast, aiming to disrupt any defence that the depleted and demoralised British Army can muster. Little do they know that it is not only the British Army that stand in their way...

And so the stage is set for the first battle on what I hope will be an ongoing campaign charting the invasion that never was, using the Bolt Action Operation Sea Lion campaign book from Warlord games, the aim of which will be to play though the scenarios of the campaign without being too competitive about it as most of us have forces that will be appearing on both sides in the upcoming battles.

For this first action we played two 500 point patrol games in which the Germans were seeking to destroy a fixed target of strategic importance to the invasion.

I played Matt and both of us wheeled out our underused VBCW forces for the occasion. I would take the role of the stalwart ad hoc defenders of Blighty, whilst Matt would be those sneaky cads, the Brandenburger commandos.

British Coastal Defence Volunteers
Senior Home Guard Commander & 1 man
Home Guard Section (10 men)
Home Guard Section (8 men)
Royal Navy Section (8 men)
Royal Navy Section (8 men)
Civilian Vehicle with MMG

Brandenburger Infiltration Commandos
Leutnant & 1 man
Brandenburger Spahtrupp (6 men)
Brandenburger Spahtrupp (5 men)
Brandenburger Spahtrupp (5 men)
Brandenburger Sabotage Team (2 men)
Abwehr Agent (1 man)

Although I had the advantage of numbers, and my inexperienced Home Guard units were backed up by veteran Navy Seamen (yes, we did make ‘that’ joke, repeatedly), I was facing an entirely veteran force, bristling with SMGs who were also disguised, preventing me from shooting them until either they came within 6” or they shot at me first.

However, the onus was on the Germans to move quickly as they had a limited amount of time available to use the hohlladungwaffen hidden amongst their units to destroy the British communications hub (the phone box).

The scene is set, rumours of activity along the coast have meant that local forces have been called out.

The Wortley-on-Sea Home Guard advance to take up static defensive positions along the road.

Meanwhile, a Navy shore party patrols the surrounding area.

Whilst Major Rumplington wonders whether they should have parked the Home Guard’s transport somewhere else.

The Brandenburgers advance towards their target, wearing their ‘authentic’ British disguises.

Alerted to the movement, the Shore Party advance to challenge any would be invaders, and immediately come under sustained fire from several directions.

The Home Guard fire haphazardly into the trees where the firing is coming from.

The bloodied remnants of the Sailors charge towards their attackers, but come off worst in the encounter.

Outnumbered, the Home Guard also come under fire, but valiantly stand their ground.

Reinforcements arrive in the form of the boys of Greybridge School Cadet Corps and a second Royal Navy Section.

Shortly joined by a converted van sporting a machine gun for mobile firepower.

After his aide is shot, Major Rumplington finds himself facing down the German commander. He immediately makes use of his Great War experience and runs back to the safety of HQ to file a report.

Despite the reinforcements, the shady and unsporting Abwehr Agent finally reveals himself and attempts to destroy the phone box. Fortunately, his hohlladungwaffen fails to do it’s job.

The Home Guard take heavy casualties, but continue to hold their ground and delay the enemy.

The Greybridge boys and the armed van pour fire towards the enemy commander to no avail.

The lads from the Royal Navy surge forwards and wipe out a Spahtrupp. They don’t like it up ‘em.

However, the Brandenburger Sabotage Team make it to their target. All they need is time to set their charge. The Navy boys assault again but in a colossal failure they are wiped out to a man by the two saboteurs.

The Home Guard finally succumb to their vicious foes.

In a last ditch effort the Greybridge boys heroically charge the saboteurs before the fuses are lit and despite losing almost half their number, manage to dispatch the callous bounders, saving the day. For good measure, the sailor manning the machine gun finishes of the dastardly, and seemingly indestructible, German commander.

In the end it was (a somewhat pyrrhic) victory for the British. Getting to activate two units (the hapless sailors and the heroic schoolboys) before the saboteurs, allowed me to intercept Matt’s last chance to destroy the target as despite still having two Spahtrupp still active he was out of hohlladungwaffen and could not score enough points by killing units to win. In the end the score was 9-4 to me, but the game was much closer than that score looks.

In the other game, Pete’s Heer veterans were mown down in short order by Wes’s rookie Americans (who aren’t officially in Britain, shhh!) as they tried to take out a bunker.

With both games won by the allies, the campaign is off to a good start for them.

The next game should be somewhat larger and feature a full on beach assault. However, I don’t know when that will be as we need to work out what we’re going to do for landing barges...or a beach...or the sea!

Sunday 7 January 2018

The Walking Dead - Issue #4

In the absence of anything getting finished this week, I’m posting this Walking Dead comic battle report to keep you all entertained.

I’ve actually had this one done for several weeks, but for some reason, I’ve not got around to posting it.

Days Gone Bye - Chapter 2

Leaving his friends behind, Rick undertakes the long journey to Atlanta to find his family. Forced to travel on horseback, Rick is overwhelmed by Walkers within the city limits. Now he is trapped in a city crawling with the walking dead...

This one turned out to be relatively easy to complete once I’d clocked that I needed to just move quickly. The threat counter rose very quickly, but I just got a move on and didn’t stop for anything except searching.

Rick’s now made it to Atlanta. It’s time to bring in the rest of the camp and see if I can keep them alive longer than they’re supposed to.

Monday 1 January 2018

A New Year, The New World

Happy New Year and wotnot!

For our first blog post of 2018 we’re off to the New World, which has just got a little more populated with the arrival of two 4Ground log cabins which I received from a certain fat, jolly, bearded fellow.

I really like 4Ground’s pre-painted terrain, as you get all the fun of the mdf jigsaw, but none of the hassle of painting. The cabins are also nicely detailed inside, which is somewhat different to my Perry plastic cabin - although now I have these, I’ll feel a bit more confident about trying to remedy that.

As ever with mdf builds, I’ve made a mistake. I’ve put the long walls of the upper story on the wrong sides, and so there is only one window at the front and two at the back. Rather than risk damaging the cabin, I’ve decided to leave it as it is. I’m not sure it matters that much as buildings such as this were made to suit their owner’s taste and as it happens, having an extra window on the back makes the cabin a bit more defensible from the rear, and the front still has plenty of firing points.

To go with the cabins, I’ve finish another unit for my Sharp Practice War of 1812 force.

These chaps are some Wargames Foundry miniatures that I got as part of an eBay lot. In an ideal world I wouldn’t have such an irregular be single pose models, I’m trying to make use of what I already had available, and the fact that they aren’t painted uniformly helps add a bit of variation.

In terms of painting, I based my colour choices on those group of re-enacters from Kentucky, as researching irregular ‘uniforms’ is a little tricky, and I figured these chaps had found out what there was to find.

In game, the Woodsmen aren’t as good as my US Rifles but they do open up the option of leading another unit through a mobile deployment point to create ambushes and flanking manoeuvres, an ability also available to the natives that my US detachment will end up fighting in their first few games.

Finally, this is a picture of everything I’ve assembled so far. In order to complete my base force, I need to paint five more infantrymen, a couple of officers and nine (nine!) cavalry.

It may be some weeks before these chaps take to a table in anger.