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. 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Baa-rely making progress

With half an eye on winter and the likelihood of a certain annual painting challenge, the last few weeks have been characterised by clearing the painting table and starting to prepare miniatures. And happily Curt is up to it once again and the Fifth Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge has been announced. I look forward to my fourth opportunity to contribute my winter output to the community.

It has been by no means productive few weeks though, hence why I've been a bit quiet. Not helped by a week without internet access, meaning I'm very behind on the blogs and haven't commented on many. But I have managed an uptick on the gaming front - three games of Chain of Command in as many weeks. Definitely my rules of choice - plenty of opponents available including Bob locally and always give a great game in a reasonable timeframe. Bob and I just started playing through the first TFL campaign supplement '29, let's go!'. I can really recommend this pick up and play campaign for the 'price of a pint'. 

Anyway, onto the lead output. Prepare yourself to be amazed. First to be dusted down has been a herd of sheep. Yup, two packs of Soay sheep from Warbases. Now Soay sheep are a bit niche, if I'm honest. A bit more Dark Ages, not an era I'm playing much. So the search was on to find a horned sheep of more Mediterranean/African origin. 

Et voila:

Image credit Wikipedia

A Barbary (or should that be Baa-bary?!) sheep, native to North Africa, but also native to the Sudan and introduced elsewhere. A sandy-brown colour, darkening with age, with a slightly lighter underbelly and a darker line along the back. 

And here are my versions:

Bit of an unusual method on these: I'd sprayed them white, which is unusual for me, so layered up washes from off-white through to mid and dark browns to make use of the sculpted texture. I like the effect. 

A few other odds and sods also finished, including some scatter terrain of furniture and trade goods as well as this chap, from an Artizan Designs grab bag and vaguely intended for a nee'r do'well for a Pulp Alley Cthulu mythos game that never really got off the ground.

As for the prep work, I've now a German infantry platoon and support options to face off against the US that have recently hit the table. Now, to start painting them now or save them a month? I'm undecided. Of course now the US been blooded in their first games, they will naturally need a little bolstering...

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Dear Santa...

Well it is that time of year again, apparently! The Secret Santa was so successful I raced to throw my lot in again. I have my target and hope to get shopping soon.

No doubt my Santa will find clues for me here, but here are some ideas based on my current interests:

-28mm SCW
I've just placed a reasonable order, but some Empress Republican Militia could also come in useful.

-15mm WWII
I've got a US and German platoon and a reasonable terrain collection now. Support options, particularly armour would be welcome. For the US I've already got a Greyhound and Sherman Jumbo. My Germans have a Hetzer, a Sdkfz250/1(0) and a 3.7cm Flak. Other 15mm vehicles or guns from the Chain of Command support lists, perhaps.

-28mm WWII
Yes two scales syndrome. I've a load of Artizan Designs and am loitering at 'half platoons' for both British Commandos and Greatcoated Germans. SWW157, SWW158, SWW152, SWW133, SWW023, SWW079, SWW071 are all be useful to start rounding either force out.
Alternatively, I've a budding desert war collection. I have a Perry Afrikakorps and a Sdfkz222, so either other Perry supports from the Chain of Command list or a Desert Rats plastic box would build it up nicely.

-28mm Sudan
There are always packs to add the the collection, though I've come to a point where I don't expect it will be a focus over the coming months. Still, Perry SB1, SB20, SB41, SB47, SA12 and SA14 are all on my 'I'll pick these up one day' list.

-28mm Pulp
I do fancy pushing the old Pulp project into Mythos games, for which I could do with some cultists or gribblies from Artizan, Pulp Figures, RAFM or Modiphius.

Well, hopefully that's enough to get Santa started!

In other news, a first for me this week, converting 15mm WWII. Fiddly work, but really just a bit of wire, green stuff and clump foliage to make a couple of pioneer teams with a flamethrower to give my US something to worry about.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

AAR: Chain of Command at Wyvern

This week i made it to Wyvern again for a game of Chain of Command against Ade. This had my US Paras (first outing!) attacking and objective: a rather fine radar station. The board looked dauntingly open, with a chateau dominating one flank. 

Despite the attack advantage, a rapid and aggressive patrol phase resulted in:

I didn't quite make the chateau, though the placing of the patrol markers meant Ade was able to get a jump-off point right by it, whereas two of mine were a fair trek away. 

The US paras pack a hell of a punch but lack numbers, so I spent my supports on a regular US infantry squad, with the change going on a pre game barrage. I kicked off with a quad towards the chateau, hoping to deny Ade. Then, the barrage did its job and stopped Ade doing the same, so they edged right up to the walled garden. 

Unfortunately, Ade managed to flip the tables, rolling a turn end then double phase, pushing a squad into the chateau and setting overwatch. Curses - that gate was one to avoid. Meanwhile, i put a considerable firebase along the hedgerow to lay down supporting fire when more Germnan defenders appeared. The regular infantry pushed on towards the radar station.

Hearing the Germans occupying the courtyard, the paras approaching the chateau made a u-turn, over the hedge and up the road: three phases to me. I closed down the turn to claim Ade's JOP: first blood to me without a shot fired. 

With my regular infantry threatening the radar station, Ade laid down his supports: entrenched infantry. With the precious German senior leader there, these would end up being a nightmare to shift without more ordnance.

These entrenched troops put a world of hurt on my infantry in the open, wearing them down and 
stalling their advance in the cover of a copse. 

With my assault being ground down and two exposed squads, I gambled it on a desperate assault against a battered but unpinned German squad. Using a turn end to get rid of Ade's overwatch, a para squad assaulted a German section. 25 dice vs 17, too close for comfort. Neither of us rolled well, but I managed to rout Ade's section and threaten the objective.

The game bumbled along for another couple of phases: we called it as too finely balanced. Victory would essentially depend when the turn end came and morale rolls came crashing in. On the face of it, the Germans were worse off, with a routed squad and two captured JOPs, already being down a few morale points. But realistically, I had two squads on the verge of being routed or destroyed, the third a long trek from their objective facing a reasonably fresh and well-led German section on the objective and a second embedded in a fine firing position in the chateau. Both forces could realistically have quit the field. 

All in all, a great game of Chain of Command once again. The start was very cagey and I got 2/3rds of the way across the table before a shot was fired.  The game swung a lot: we each had runs of phases to turn things around. I had the firepower but Ade was a devil for 'no effect' damage rolls. I rolled a lot more kills on my men, including a dramatic 8 of Ade's hits doing 4 kills 2 shock in one round of fire, against troops in hard cover!

Even without lots of toys on the table and using a scenario from the book, Chain of Command posed lots of challenging situations. There were plenty of times when I thought of alternative ways of doing things, one of the joys of the ruleset is that it offers a toolkit of how to use just vanilla platoon without overloading the table with toys.

Cheers to Ade for being a good sport and offering a great game. Until next time!

The club was pretty busy and had great looking Russo-Japanese game put on by Stu using Through the Mud and the Blood as well as Paul's French regulars getting hammered at Muskets and Tomahawks. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The Last Mahdists

...for a while.

No, not new output, rather a belated post as I didn't get around to posting the miniatures I finished up for the gaming day at Wyvern. It was such a rush I just didn't get time to snap them before they were packed up with the rest of the troops. Well, a month later here they are, though I warn you that you've seen the likes of them all before. First up are more horsemen of the Baggara tribe, including a Sheikh to lead them. I replaced the Perry spears with wire ones - the Perry ones bend so much it drives me up the wall. These don't bend, but will ping off if you catch them at the right angle, whatever glue I use. Some to be packed carefully.

Next up a load more infantry. A few each of warriors and riflemen. This does make my force even more rifle-heavy, over 25%, which I should rectify at some point. But not for a while - other projects beckon!

The Anglo-Egyptian force also got a little love - just a handful of troops I have prepped to round three units up to an even number. Not an efficient way of doing things, but I didn't have time to finish more.

Thanks to all the kind words on my last post. I've not really pushed past the malaise yet, but have started to dabble a little more: finishing up odds and sods and digging the 15mm WWII back out to get sprayed up. Little steps but in a way it is nice to just meander.