Sunday, 18 January 2015

AAR: A dabble in AVBCW at Wyvern

I made it to Wyvern again a couple of weeks ago, to play an A Very British Civil War scenario using Stu's collection. We used Chain of Command, as its known and remains popular at the club.

Stu kindly put on a scenario for Mark and I involving the Astwood Defence Association protecting their most prized asset. Stu briefed each player:

Since the opening salvo in the war things have been quiet for the Astwood Defence Association. They had guarded their parish boundary from "wrong'uns" and had cooperated with the authorities when required to do so.

With 149 men to call upon and a WW1 Artillery piece as the centre of power they believed they could see out the current difficulties until peace returned.

That was until the crack down, fliers were posted at the guildhall requesting that all weapons were handed in to the Government to aid in the war effort. Sources within the council has indicated to the ADA that if they did not offer up the Artillery piece it would be taken by force.

With the gun they knew they would be easy pickings for other stronger forces close by. The Gun would have to be moved, if only they had time....

I played the dastardly Fascist forces: two sections of Police and one section of BUF. After a short, sharp patrol phase, this was the layout: the sacks of grain being BUF jump-off points. The location of the gun was not known - my bet was either in or beside the farmhouse courtyard. The ADA would have to move it off one of the exit roads on my right flank.

In a play to start aggressively and throw the ADA off-balance, I brought my armoured wing right on - a recon patrol. Mark realised he hadn't taken any antitank, though we consulted carefully for the MGs vs.vehicles rules, and agreed for the sake of balance and good fun that each of his sections could have a single, precious mills bomb.

Mark shut down the quickest road route with a MMG team and sniper, forcing me to avoid the danger by pushing through the wheatfields either side.

Brave ADA troops leapfrogged the hedgerows under covering fire. This was to oppose my troops which were massing on the right flank, particularly after the MMG drove my 'armour' off the road. THat suited me in the end, as they could draw line of sight to the exit points for the gun. 

Seeing the right as a knotty problem to be unpicked slowly using the armoured cars, I pushed asecond section of policemen widely around the left to avoid the loitering ADA sniper. I hoped that Mark would be too focused on the other flank to pay them much attention. Then, they could seize the gun ansd claim victory - bwa ha haaa! Alas, another section of ADA emerged from the farmhouse, and the two sections settled down into cover to trade shots

With my left flank ploy blunted, I turned back to the right, pushing police into the dead ground behind the barn. But....


The local farmer's association were inside, preparing the gun to be moved. A melee ensued and the my police driven off, though the farmers were also mauled and combat ineffective. A burst of fire from the armoured cars' lewis guns saw them rout too. The combat was hotting up.

The dispositions - both forces split either side of the road - I nestled a sniper to the rear of the central field with the corn stooks, with good lines of fire. I also held the advantage of a third section off-table. But where to put it on, to swing the game?

Morale was balanced - both of us around the 5-6 mark, and I couldn't see an obvious way to swing the game in my favour. For a few turns, I spent all my command dice on the police section and my sniper on the left - firing both if possible every round meant they could see off the more numerous and lewis-gun carrying ADA section. While the recon, fairly safe from significant harm on the right, just sat on a hedgerow, reluctant to proceed further without support.

With the left won, though my section now below strength, both our morale around 4, Mark pushed a fireteam down the road to the barn, no doubt in a further attempt to move the gun inside and claim victory. Seeing my chance, I spent a CoC dice moving a jump-off point far up the left, putting my BUF section in good cover with flanking fire.

A sharp of fire burst saw the attempt to move the gun blunted and the ADA team fleeing back down the road. At this point, Mark's morale collapsed and he conceded.

All in all, a cagey game of Chain of Command. Investment in attacks on one flank or the other paid off for me, as I wasn't afraid to withdraw to the lee of hedgerows when out-gunned. Really, the ADA section with lewis gun should have beaten the police, but I just had more command dice to spend so won out. And something to be said for patience - having a fresh section to bring on when a moment presented itself paid dividends and claimed the win.

My taking armoured cars did riskunbalancing the game, without any antitank on the opposing side. Mark had 10 support points too, the shame! But actually, the MG against vehicle rules worked well - they could mount up shock (forcing me to spend orders removing it) or drive them into reverse or towards cover. While I had two mobile lewis guns that were fairly safe from fire, this just made up for me having one less to start with. It didn't overly unbalance the game - though I suspect Mark will have learned a lesson to bring something with a pit of punch.

Its interesting that as well as the different feel of AVBCW, playing CoC in 28mm felt rather different to 15mm - much closer terrain and larger footprints of units gave even more of a different game. And boy was I happy not to be attacking against German MG42s once again!

I've always been intrigued by AVBCW, and can see the appeal of it as a platoon game with esoteric and underpowered supports compared to more historical games of the era. So I'm glad I got this game of it in, cheers to Stu for putting on a great fun scenario. All of the miniatures and terrain are from his collection.

I couldn't make the club tonight, but who knows what will be in store in a fortnight? 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

The Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge V - December

Over a month into this year's Fifth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge and there have been such treats on offer - the bumper crop of participants with around 250 entries so far.

I did n't manage to make a strong start - busyness at work hit the preparations (some of which I'm still working on), then Christmas sapped time away from the painting table. So I'm floundering in both side challenges with Curt and Juan.

My entries for December also firmly sat in my comfort zone - predominantly tidying up loose ends of the long-running Sudan project. But it'll be all change for January...

To get me out of the block on the first weekend, a small unit of skirmishing Sudanese Bazingers.

Bazingers were African irregulars, either mercenaries or slave-soldiers. They could be found in government service or the private employ of Arab slavers and merchants. They formed part of the garrison at Khartoum and Suakin and fought in Egyptian service at El Teb. They can also serve as the troops of local Shaykhs and warlords loyal (or not so loyal...) to the Egyptian government, provided with standard-issue Remingtons. 

The colours are fairly uniform but the poses and motley equipment suggests they are irregulars, I think they'll sit well alongside my Egyptian regular troops. I wish I'd bought more and will likely add another pack and command. As always, they are Perry Miniatures. 

Next up, the second theme round: 'Mounts and Riders'. Nothing too imaginative , I already had the last three Baggara cavalry prepped up, so painted them to match my existing ones.

The glad is courtesy of Flag Dude (and is damned fragile - I've already broken it once!

Here's the Mahdist cavalry wing - I should paint more camels to match it these fearsome horse!

Next, a little dalliance with single miniatures, first a particularly flamboyant a Egyptian officer. He's a fantastic sculpt from Gringos 40s Maximillian Adventure range. I'm really pleased with how his face came out

Last up, the Spanish Civil War onslaught begins. He was a freebie from Empress miniatures because my club put in a large joint order. In fact, the order was so big that eight of him were included! Happily, there is a 'priest' option in the Chain of Command SCW support lists, he can offer some religious zeal to my Requetes

An entirely new project offer the chance to use new methods, many picked up from this community. I'm reducing my use of washes as I think they slow my painting down quite a bit and often aren't necessary - AP strong tone has become a bit ubiquitous recently. So only one wash used on him, though he was a very simple paint job. I've also used a new colour for the highlights on the base: Vallejo 'Iraqi Sand' rather than 'Buff' and added more variation to the shade. I think it looks much better, but I'd be very interested what you all think as he project develops.  Unfortunately, it won't match my terrain, but that's already in a motley collection of colours as I've changed my bases a few times for different projects. I also used more definition to the face and a slightly different flesh recipe, though this one didn't quite come out right. Further improvements have been made though. 

That's it for December, I currently sit at 181 points, a good way to my 500 target but 50 behind Juan. Do check out the Challenge blog for everyone's excellent entries, if you don't already! 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

In Search of Pea Green

It's time to start the Spanish Civil War project. First onto the painting table are a squad of Carabineros, dashing in their "Light Grey-Green...lighter than that of the Civil Guard; one source described it as “pea” green" (from Balagan).

My paint selection wasn't big on greens. Having bought Vallejo out of potential colours (a fairly limited range made difficult by needing to do it online), I find myself undecided  on the best combination - there's no clear shade and highlight combination that I can see. I'm undecided if I'm after a grey-green or just a pale green. My Googling has unearthed no colour plates, just the description above and a handful of painted examples.

There is lots of a SCW knowledge no this community, so any sage advice for me from the options above?


Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas everyone

Just a quick post to join in the chorus of 'Merry Christmas!' posts. I hope each and everyone one of you enjoyed days filled with happiness, wherever you are or however you spent it. 

Image credit

I had a good hobby Christmas, with Sudan reading material from the mother-in-law, a paint station from the wife and of course the annual Secret Santa organised by Ian and Cath. Santa kindly sent the 15mm Germans some armoured support with what appears to be a Peter Pig PzIV platoon. One looks a bit worse for wear from allied bombing though.

Thanks very much Santa - excellent choices!

Christmas brings a pause from the brushes, but I hope to be back at it soon. 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The 2014/15 Challenge Box

I usually post a picture of the box file of prepped minis for the Analogue Hobbies painting challenge just before all he fun kicks off. Well, the box wasn't filled in time but I finally managed to base up the rest of my initial minis over the weekend. So, full box:

So from me, the challenge should bring:
-A few bits leftover from last year's challenge, mostly to round out the,Sudan project
-Quite a lot of 15mm WWII to round out two platoons, including a few vehicles. They take up a lot of space, hence the overflow
-The first of the SCW platoon
-Test Perry DAK minis
-A handful of Pulp minis
-Oh dear, that's it!

I've not actually counted how many points this offers (how's about that, Miles and Millsy, fans of meticulous planning and spreadsheets) but don't think this will get me to my target of 500 without a couple of bonus rounds. But of course I've plenty of bare lead that I can dig into in the new year - including the other 2/3rds of the SCW project.

The box not being finished in time has a knock on effect - lots of basing to start the challenge with. Normally I get most of it done before challenge start, as the rules permit. This year I was behind, so have spent this week getting through it, with little progress to post following my first entry.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Recent AARs: Chain of Command and Pulp Alley

Happily, I  can report that regular gaming continues. At the last Wyvern Wargamers club night a fortnight ago, Ade put on another well-researched game of Big Chain of Command using his extensive collection, this time representing the second British assault at Rauray in June 1944. I took on a British infantry platoon supported by Bob's Shermans on a worryingly open board. We were tasked with seizing the crossroads, opposed by Ian and Matt with two reduced Germans panzergrenadier platoons and a Big Cat: Ade assured us this was evenly matched!

The ever-fun patrol phase left it something like this:

A last minute shuffle of a marker to the right came up trumps: giving the Geramns no options for a Jump Off Point on our right and forcing them back to the village crossroads. I opted to move in force against the  the right flank where they'd be covered by the roods ahead, using a JOP on the right board edge.

Turn one and the first double-6: half the platoon emerged from the field and started the advance.

The Germans brought out their Panther early to seize the crossroads while a section took up residence in the town.

Bob's armour moves up, the outgunned and out-armoured Shermans looking to avoid the sights of the Panther

My two infantry sections make their move: trading fire with a panzergrenadier section across a road.

In the nick of time, the British mortars opened up, bang on target over the crossroads. Through some terrible luck on the German side and a series of double-6's by Bob and I, the mortar barrage fell again and again, pinning the majority of the Germans defenders and all but one of their Jump-Off Points. This game Bob and I free reign to maneuver and brig firepower to bear where needed.

This was a fine example of a well-orchestrated assault by infantry and armour with mortar support. But unfortunately, it didn't give a good game for either side: the German inability to lift the barrage meant I could rout the Germans outside of the barrage through weight of numbers, while Bob maneuvered his Sherman Fireflies to get both in sight of the Panther for when the barrage lifted. Once it did, the Germans were in no state to repel the assault and their dangerous Panther quickly took a battering (more double-6's and double-phases by Bob) and bailed out.

What should have been a great game ended up being too one-sided from a well-timed barrage and devilish luck from then on. So apologies to Matt and Ian. While I enjoy Chain of Command for the friction that it offers, but unfortunately, if a system builds in friction, sometimes the dice lead to unfortunate, overly one-sided situations. Which is why I think playing it a linked campaign works really well - the dice even out over the course of the campaign  Sorry Ade - but thanks for hosting and umpiring!

Also at the Club, Carl put on a Black Powder American War of Independence game with an impressive collection on the table. The British battalions looked very fine indeed marching through the verdant terrain.

Last weekend brought an impromptu game of Pulp Alley with my brother Gharak. We've not gamed anything beyond miniature board games for a while, but the beauty of Pulp Alley is the speed and ease of getting minis onto the table.

We threw together a fairly simple 'search for the temple' scenario, with two competing leagues of heroes looking to open up its mysteries and explore the interior in a second game. All of the minis and terrain are from Gharak's fine Pulp collection. 

My dastardly League of Nasty People, led by man of mystery 'The Suit'

The heroic Butch O'Sullivan's with today's companions

The two leagues face off in the foreground, with the temple entrance to the North. The kapok represents mist rolling up and down the river, which blocked line-of sight.

Butch O'Sullivan's men, made the Temple outskirts first, taking up good positions to fell the my League of Nasty People as they approached.

With his mercenary allies out of the fight, a dash by 'The Suit' ends in a scrap by the last plot point', equipment left by the last expedition. O'Sullivan takes the prize and enters the temple

Cue eerie music

In true Pulpy fashion, there are traps and puzzles, as well a temple guardians. I used the 'weird' Pulp Alley supplement to make up some rather hard to kill mummies,

The Mexican extuinguishes the first brazier of Flames That Need to be Extinguished Before our Heroes can Advance Further.

O'Sullivan's street kid charges up to face the mummies on their platform, but is quickly felled.

Around this point, we realised that I'd made the mummies rather too tough - they could essentially shrug off most hits and each had as many hit points as a hero. And as they were graded 'sidekicks', they hit pretty hard too (not helped that I couldn't see an obvious way of removing their ranged attack without using more skills slots, so for the sake of argument they 'had magic' and could fire back against the heroes' guns!).

The temple guardians chewed through the heroes, until they cornered Butch O'Sullivan himself. H did manage to take one out, but the other two wore him down - this temple remains un-looted for now!

Phew! Sunday brings the next game in Bob and I's '29 Lets Go!' CoC campaign - here's hoping my American can keep their push up!

Pre-Challenge: 15mm Terrain

Hello hello all!

While the gaming blogosphere has been abuzz with clearing the decks before the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge starts, things have been a bit quiet here. It hasn't been the most productive few weeks, but I have been pootling away and kept up with a game every week or so.

With Chain of Command as the ruleset of choice and 15mm the most popular scale, I felt it would be good to sort out some terrain before the challenge starts. Years of hoarding meant I had plenty of supplies for a few hedges:

And a few more....

...and more:

A total of 7 feet of hedge using Woodland Scenics clump foliage and under bushes and small scale in various shades with some small tree armatures. All based on giant craft lolly sticks built up with wood filler. Plus a foot or so of 10mm dry stone walling from Hovels.

But wait, that's not it! I also based up some 'Hallmark' low walls from Timecast. Really nice prepainted pieces at a fair price, though a bit unstable to use out of the box. So they went on lolly sticks too, got a wash or two to tie them closer to the farmhouse and got some groundwork to finish them off.

The farmhouse itself is from 4Ground. I'll go back at some point to tidy up the burnt edges and grubby it up a little. I've also got the threshing barn and stables built and ready for the table.

Some good fortune with the size of the giant lolly sticks plus a bit of head scratching meant I managed to get them to fit snugly either straight or at right angles by clipping the ends to a 90 degree (ish) corner.

All in all, a fairly good start at the terrain, I can also borrow a few bits from the 28mm collection. But realistically, I could probably do with two or three times the length of hedge for a 6'x4' board, including some of the dreaded bocage. But that can wait until spring now.

The other recent focus has been on preparing for the Challenge, which started this morning. This weighty sack of lead that turned up the other week from Empress' SCW range certainly kept me busy. In the end, I only managed to prep  a third of it!

Oh, one more thing - my brother Gharak has picked up the brushes again after an 18 month hiatus. Welcome back bro! Check out his blog if you're interested in Pulpy stuff - he's rather a good painter.