Monday, 3 August 2020

The Battle Pinchfield Farm

George Orwell once called Sheffield 'the ugliest town in the Old World', which seems a harsh judgement. However, it's a little know fact that his viewpoint was probably affected by his being captured whilst visiting the area by the local branch of the British Union of Facists during the opening stages of what became known as a Very British Civil War.

Fortunately for Mr Orwell, a rescue mission was launched by the Swallownest Socialist Brigade, a local socialist workers militia affiliated to the Handsworth Volunteers.

If you haven't worked it out yet, this is battle report for 7TV: Pulp in which Matt and I broke out our VBCW forces for a little dust up. We've used a range of rule sets for VBCW over the years, but we felt that 7TV might suit the tongue-in-cheek nature of the setting.

My BUF consisted of:
Branch Officer Jack Boot - Ruthless Lieutenant (Co-Star)
Mr Frederick - Big Game Hunter (Co-Star)
Billy Boys - VIP (Extra)
BUF: Sheffield Branch - Stormtrooper Unit (Extras)
 - Stormtrooper Commander
 - Stormtrooper Sergeant
 - 6 Stormtroopers
 Propaganda Wagon - Sedan (Vehicle)

Matt's faceless (and currently nameless - typical feckless leftists) socialists horde were:
Cynical Gumshoe (Star)
Rebel Leader (Co-Star)
4 Rebels (Extras)
Grease Monkey (Extra)
VIP (Extra)

We used our flag bearers as VIPs, as the effect they had on PPs during the game seemed appropriate. The scenario was The Rescue and so Mr Orwell was also a captive VIP.

The socialist leader lead the way, slowly sneaking into the farmyard and disabling the car parked there, to prevent escape.

However, the BUF, who had returned, with Mr Orwell in tow, to Pinchfield by the back roads, caught sight of movement in the yard and spread out.

Aware they had been rumbled, the socialists took up firing positions by the hedge.

In an ostentatious move, the driver of the propaganda wagon performed a handbrake turn which thrust the vehicle between the shed and the house, simultaneously creating a barricade for the BUF to shelter behind and exposing the filthy commies to some of Oswald Moseley's more stirring quotes.

Meanwhile, Mr Frederick, the owner of Pinchfield, started a small smokey fire near the grave of his father to provide himself some cover.

Despite these precautions, the socialist leader managed to flank the BUF (unsurprisingly, he moved to his left), and unloaded his revolver into one of the fascists. He also tried to shoot Jack Boot, but another of the loyal blackshirts leapt in the way.

On the other side of the house, a largely ineffectual firefight broke out.

The works engineer tried to break the stalemate by moving round the side of the shed.

However, his plan failed as he was assaulted and captured by the BUF platoon commander, who then also tried the same trick.

The sudden appearance of the socialist leader had thrown the fascists into disarray.

They decided to withdraw and regroup, but their shots, fired on haste, went wide.

Just like the engineer, the platoon leader found himself in an exposed position.

Seeing their position being overrun, the fascists backed off further.

Filled with revolutionary zeal, the socialist leader pursued his quarry, keen to rescue Mr Orwell.

However, he was furiously assaulted by a counter attack and left stunned by repeated blows from Boot.

However, he managed to clamber to his feet and hold off the fascists.

Meanwhile, the static and leaderless defensive line of the BUF was once again in danger of being flanked.

It looked like Orwell might be liberated as the socialist leader finally got some back up.

What's more, the BUF were broken as their men were gunned down in quick succession.

However, Mr Frederick had been overlooked. He calmly loaded his shotgun and blew away the socialist engineer.

And then he reloaded and carefully took aim at the socialist leader, whispered, "get off my land," and opened fire.


The BUF had notionally won the day with an 8-4 victory, and had kept hold of Orwellas a hostage, but their noses and bodies had been well and truly bloodied by the Socialists. Certainly, further hostilities could be expected.

We have plans to broaden the conflict by bringing in Spy-Fi profiles (for weapons teams), Apocalypse vehicles (for wierd and wack contraptions) and Pulp gadgets, perils and countdown cards.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Optimus Primates

After a little bit of a painting hiatus, I'm back to 'work' and have started on my Ape Revolution Committee (henceforth referred to as A.R.C.) for Pulp City, beginning with the Primate of Science and the Ape-Bot.

I picked up this pair and three others from Ebay for a bargain price (mainly due to them missing their cards and one model missing an arm - more on that in a future post), and I started with these two because they struck me as the quickest wins.

The Primate of Science is one of the leaders of the A.R.C. (along with the Primates of Mystery and Nature), and unlike the leaders of other factions is in no way a heavy hitter, more a support piece, and only a Level 1 character.

Given his scientific focus, I've gone for a Tron-vibe with him, doing a simple base of contrast black and picking out details in electric blue.

For Ape-Bot I was struck by how the armour playing and star on his shoulder reminded me of my Soviet Tanks, and so I decided to run with it. This idea makes 'sense' in that the A.R.C. appear more than a touch communist in their outlook ("Apes together strong!"). The vehicle numbers also imply that Ape-Bot is simply one of many constructed for the cause.

This has also given me the idea to go for a military theme with the rest of the models, with the aim of suggesting that this is a fully mobilised ape-insurgency. Obviously the Primate of Science is an exception to this, but he's in charge, he gets to design his own uniform.

It's nice to get painting again because the last few weeks have seen the tally moving in the wrong direction. Sadly, this has continued with my purchase of six dinosaurs...

Acquired: 238
Painted: 205

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

New Avengers: Breakout, Issue #3

After an almost two year hiatus, I've finally returned to my solo Marvel campaign centering on the New Avengers: Breakout campaign.

The gist of the storyline is that the Avengers have disbanded until person or persons unknown have staged a mass breakout from the Raft maximum security prison. Captain America, Iron Man and Spider-Man have individually rushed to the scene to help contain the situation, which included stopping Count Nefaria. See Issue #1.

Meanwhile, Matt Murdock, Luke Cage and Jessica Drew were visiting one of Murdock's clients when the lights went out and they narrowly escaped Hydro-Man, Zzaxx and Venom. See Issue #2.

Now the heroes need to see if they can work together to prevent a horde of prisoners from escaping into the night.

For this scenario I had Iron Man, Spider-Man and Captain America trying to hold the communications centre against an increasing number of escapees seeking to call for some sort of extraction with the heroes trapped below arriving later. The game would last until one side was knocked out or a villain was alone (i.e. no heroes to distract them) on top of the comms centre at the end of a round.

I'm not sure where I'm going to go next with this, however, I suspect I will follow the story from the comics (and the campaign in the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying rulebook) and eventually head for the Savage Land...mainly because I already have a board for it.

In other news, I've done no painting, but I have bought some 'beastmen' that are definitely not the Thundercats from Crooked Dice and Leon of Kitbash Games has been having a clear out and sent me a bunch of minis that are destined to be S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and Sentinel Prowlers in further installments.

Acquired: 232
Painted: 203

Friday, 10 July 2020

Opening A New Front

Last weekend, I was able to have my first proper wargame in a long time. Matt came over, and with social distancing enforced by the gaming table between us, we christened (well, it was more of a baptism of fire) his new Japanese Bolt Action army.

To do this week headed to 1939 and the somewhat obscure Khalkin Gol campaign, which ostensibly began as a border skirmish between the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, and the Soviet satellite state of Mongolia but rapidly escalated.

When it came to setting up the table, Google Earth images of the battlefield presented a view which certainly challenged some of the conventions of wargaming, such as cover, and so I introduced a bit of artistic license, which included a dry river bed, a few hills and a scattering of scrub and bushes.

It would still be an unusually barren battlefield, but given that the Japanese objective was to cross the board, it at least offered on protection. Which would potentially be helped by the attack happening at night. However, as it happened the scenario rules said that each round there was a 50/50 chance of lightning removing the cover of darkness.

It must have been one hell of a storm, because all but one turn was lit up.

Our armies were a bit mismatched too. I've been adding to my Soviet force for several years, whilst Matt has only had his Japanese a couple of months. Combining this with the requirement that I include three Inexperienced units meant that I had a distinct numbers advantage.

Soviet Army
HQ: Senior Lt, Captain, Commissar
Infantry: 3x Inexperienced Squads, 3x Regular Squads, MMG team
Artillery: 45mm Light AT Gun
Armour: BA-6, T-26a

Japanese Army
HQ: Second Lt, Captain, Medic, Artillery Observer
Infantry: 2x Regular Squads, 1 Large Veteran Squad, 2x Lt Mortar Teams
Armour: Chi-Ha

After two turns featuring little more than movement and some desultory shooting, the third turn saw the conflict heat up in a big way.

The Japanese objective meant that they had no option but to head directly for the Soviet hordes.

A task that was made even more daunting when the Soviet line was stiffened by the arrival of almost all their reserves, including two armoured vehicles - however, neither the Soviet BA-6 and T-26, nor the Japanese Chi-Ha would prove decisive, as all would suffer from dreadful accuracy.

Despite the big guns misfiring, the large Japanese veteran squad was subjected to massed Soviet rifle fire producing a somewhat offensive number of casualties, taking the sting of this threatening unit.

With their numbers being whittled away, one Japanese squad got into charge range, hoping to get the jump on the Soviets at the start of the following turn.

But it was the Russians that took the initiative and swarmed into a furious assault with a significant numbers advantage, and when the dust settled...

...thing had not exactly got their way.

The lone survivor scurried into the cover of the river bed, but was mercilessly gunned down by the Russian Captain...

...who was then subsequently assaulted and beheaded by the Japanese commander.

Meanwhile, on the left flank things were going the Soviets' way. Supported (to an extent) by the MMGs of the T-26, a squad of Siberians drove the Japanese off a hill. However, having done this, the squad then refused to do anything else for the remainder of the battle.

Unfortunately, the Japanese didn't know that this was the end of Siberian involvement and so the Chi-Ha advanced cautiously, all too aware that the unit on the hill was bristling with anti-tank grenades.

The Japanese line stalled in the cover of the river bed, lacking the firepower to severely impact the Soviet line, whilst the Russians were only able to chip away at the entrenched Japanese.

Faced with this impasse, the Japanese commander and his attendant launched what would surely be a suicidal charge...

...but no, again the Soviets met their match in the ferocity of the Japanese blades. However, the rampage was eventually brought to an end by the Commissar, posthumously awarded Hero of the Soviet Union after losing his life whilst killing the sword wielding captain.

In what passed for an armoured engagement, the Chi-Ha's light howitzer immobilised the T-26, which lacked the armament to do anything in return. Meanwhile, the Siberians, who definitely equipped to deal with the lightly armoured Japanese tank, looked on from the safety of their hill.

Despite the almost successful thrust of the Chi-Ha, weight of fire had mopped up almost all of the rest of the Japanese army. The Red Army had clinched victory and would retain control of eastern Mongolia.

This game was a tough ask for Matt, who had stretched his small army to the limit to get to 1200 points, but had to advance towards my firing line. To add injury to insult, his task was made nigh on impossible by the lighting exposing his forces to my full weight of fire. I'm pretty sure that with a more infantry heavy force and a bit more darkness, I might have found more of my units on the point end of a bandai charge.

I'm looking forward to playing some more games on this theatre as the terrain gave a very different feel to the game, forcing us to think differently about how to preserve units. It was also nice to play a game where there was a distinct lack of monster tanks dominating the battlefield.

What's more, the Khalkin Gol campaign offers some interesting options for scenarios, including cavalry clashes, unsupported tanks and heroically fighting overwhelming odds to the last man.

There's more to come.