Thursday, 31 January 2013

Operation Squad: Brief AAR and Review

Quick post tonight to note a great first game of Operation Squad with Samulus. We took reduced squads, me with 8 (freshly painted!) German infantry and Samulus with 8 British commandos.

It was a game of two halves, the right half of the table ending up a troops hunkered down in cover sniping at each other. Perhaps my fault for not putting more blocking terrain down. The centre was dominated by two buildings and I managed to get a well-positioned MG34 to keep a large building full of Brits suppressed. Well, cowering at the number of shots I could throw out, at least!

MG34 team heads for the rooftop

Surprise! Sarge guns down a rampant German

The game ebbed and flowed well and before we realised it was late enough and our forces were dwindling and routing, so agreed it was a draw.

Disaster! MG gunner fails his break test and leaves the field. It was a still a draw despite this setback, honest! 

I really enjoyed Operation Squad. The action/reaction mechanics initially needed the application of braincells, but flowed better after a turn or two. The game encourages you to use squad tactics and have your troops work together.

-designed to encourage squad tactics, captures the feel very, very well.
-elegant mechanics, the way MGs worked we thought was quite excellent.
-makes for a tense game, some dice rolls really matter, which is fun!
-I think the core mechanics would work well for Weird WWII, with tinkering and adding some different flavours of troops, without breaking the core mechanics.

-requires both players to pay attention or it can go quite slowly
-some scenarios not explicitly covered by the rules
-restricted squad lists (easily solved by the application of imagination and scenario design!)
-long ranges require a lot of terrain, echoes of my Infinity days here
-uses quite a few counters, unless you've got a good memory!

So after one game, my feeling is definitely very positive and I look forward to trying new things out like mortars and Panzerfausts. If you're aftet a pick up and play, small scale squad action game, I'd recommend it!

Now, can I justify some more suitable 4Ground buildings?

Challenge entry four: Greatcoated Germans

First up, apologies that all of my posts are challenge entries, I don't seem to have so much time to blog at the moment. This was my last entry, 10 days ago. I've nearing another entry, but it is achingly slow. I've also been trying to do some woodland/rough terrain, which I've just finished but won't score.
This pilot is a great dual-purpose miniature, he will join my Pulp crew as a pilot, once again the last adventure required one but we were short. He would also be a good objective for small-scale WWII games.

I thought some German efficiency would get my Challenge back on track. I'm still well below par as we approach the third-way point, but this bunch of points should help. All of these were part of my Christmas gift from Gharak and are from Artizan Designs.


Nine Greatcoated Germans, a two-man checkpoints and a seven-man part-squad. I've nine more to paint, almost certainly on the workbench soon. They are a rag-tag bunch, some late war armed with G43 rifles, others bolt-action and supported by an MG34. So I echoed this with the painting, mixing up the colours to give the impression of a hard-bitten unit. I spent a while trying to get my colours right, but couldn't find a definitive on the greatcoats - flat grey or the more greeny 'feldgrau'. I eventually settled on two colours of greatcoats, to represent different batches, shortages or fading through wear. I'll add one or two more shades with the second batch.

Once I've painted the second group, I'll spend some time dirtying them up before the final coat f Dullcote. Neat at the greatcoats came out, I think some grubbiness will really suit them. I'll post up pics once that's done.

These will oppose my British Commandos, originally I thought I'd use Brink of Battle, but I've just picked up Operation Squad, having heard good things about it. I'll be giving it a try with Samulus tonight.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Dark Age Swap Shop

Just after Christmas I was seduced by the North Star sale and ended up with two of their 'grab bags' of minis at a hefty discount. I did quite well from the Artizan Pulp grab bag: while I got a handful of duplicates, I was expecting to and got some great figures. I will split the spoils with Gharak, pretty much all of them are useful for Pulp or WWII games.

I also got a Dark Ages one as I've half fancied a second unit of Bondi to round out Saga force. Needing just 8 minis, a plastic box isn't cost-effective and with the grab bag offering 20 minis for £12, its the same price as an 8-man pack from Gripping Beast. Surely chances are I'd get 8 suitable ones?

Well, no actually. My Bondi are all unarmoured, but I only got the six unarmoured miniatures on the left, as well as some with bows. The rest are armoured. Drat.

Unarmoured on the left, armoured and bows on the right. 

I really would like to get hold of two more unarmoured Viking/Dark Age miniatures. Perhaps one of my readers might have a couple of spares in their bits box? Anyone want to do a swap for a couple of the chaps on the right?

Regardless, the remaining armoured minis are a useful start towards a second Saga force, perhaps Anglo-Danes. But thats a project for another month, for now they will be set aside to concentrate on my other projects.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Challenge Entry three: Sods and Odds

Belatedly, my third Challenge entry, still rambling around the Pulpy era. I am completely off the pace in the challenge and struggling to build up momentum in my hobby time - these should have been a quick two-night job but took me over a week. First, a handful of Indian infantry, this is what I was going for (I'm sure someone can name the film!):

They are Newline Designs sculpts, picked up in a recent sale. This was my first order from them and I was disappointed, more so because I ordered the wrong sculpts - Hindu infantry would have been better. The poses are a bit wooden, the details soft and the casting poor, with lots of filing and filling necessary to rectify some quite bad pitting. I won't deny that I am spoiled by usually buying excellent Perry and Artizan sculpts. Still, they were reasonably priced and will suffice to save our heroes from peril. I wasn't concerned about historical accuracy here, this is very much a film homage, which is one of the joys of Pulp. As with all of my entries, they haven't been varnished yet, so some bits may be a bit shiny. 

Next up, another antagonist to spoil our heroes' plans in a future adventure. A Russian or Eastern European hard man for hire, a fabulously menacing sculpt, but perhaps not an original paint job!
Finally, what was going to be an attempt at retaining the 'Sarah's Choice' award. Alas, the rules are slightly different this year so this blonde warrior-woman probably won't qualify. She is a fabulous 'Hour of Glory' character,  I still have an alternate sculpt still to paint another day. I see her as an SOE agent, inspired by a small but moving memorial to them I accidentally found a while back in central London. Her uniform isn't ideal for behind enemy lines work, but it kept her colour-themed with my Commandos.

Next to show you? I've a batch of Greatcoated Germans which are pretty much ready to send to Curt. I started them with some new Rosemary & Co brushes, as recommended by Ian at The Blog with No Name. I won't review them yet as I'm still making my mind up, but they were very reasonably priced and have held up pretty well so far. 

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Second Challenge Entry: Odds and Sods

I submitted a mixed bag to Curt as my second Challenge entry. First up, a man known as 'Herr Doktor' whose real name may, or may not be Doctor Graumann. A sharply dressed gentleman who claims to be a travelling doctor from Austria, but may in fact be an officer of the German Abwehr. An excellent Artizan sculpt with more than a hint of 'Herr Flick', I am pleased with the result of the grey colour scheme, pinstripe suit and flash of salmon pink.

I also submitted a West Wind French Partisan, as some muscle for a Pulp gang. A quick an inoffesive paint job on him. Finally, three riderless horses.  In the last, unfinished adventure, the Prof escaped on a stolen mount, though I had forgotten to bring, or paint (!) the horses for that session.These are some I had spare from the Perry ACW Cavalry set that was the basis for my mounted Guerilleros last year. They can liven up the board or serve as objectives (or an escape route!). Standing horses would be better for it, but I had these lying around so I can't complain.

Next up are more Pulp bits, a few of which I've already finished and are awaiting more completed figures for basing. I have also finished prepping most of the miniatures that I got for Christmas, including WWII Germans and a couple of Sudan packs. I think they will be on the workbench next.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

WWWII AAR: The Assault on Facility 621

Operation TESTUDO, Stage 2. 

Initial report of Father Jonathan Harkness 25 October 1944

Myself and a small party from the 1st Assault Infantry Brigade entered the facility through Entrance Alpha. At first all that we encountered was a chemical stench. Dark and grimy, the facility unsettled the men.


Windows offered a vantage point overlooking the facility, we noted our objectives below: almost certainly the pump room directly below and a storehouse across the corridor. We started to trade shots with defending German infantry.

Rounding the corner, the lead SteelSuit encountered two Nazi abominations. A burst of purifying flames followed by hot steel put paid to both.

Meanwhile, reports came in that out staging post was under heavy assault from German battlesuits - the Panzerkampfsoldaten.  

 After a firefight lasting around an hour, the attackers were repulsed with minimal losses.

Sniped by Herr Flick!

 In Facility 621, with a burst of heroism worthy of merit, Corporal Wojeck clambered through the shattered window and jumped down to the lower level. We offered covering fire as be began laying the charges. But we were unable to prevent German infantryman shrugging off our fire, rounding the corner and gunning Wojeck down.

To add to our misfortune, a Panzerfaust scored a direct hit on the SteelSuit overlooking the facility, killing the pilot Jenkins and showering us with rubble. With both British casualties and German resistance mounting, the assault was paused in order to to bring up our reserves. To be continued...?

Direct hit!

To be continued...?

(This and Part 1 were the three WWWII games Gharak and I got in over Christmas. The miniatures are msotly West Wind or Artizan with a few other manufacturers thrown in for good measure. The Terrain is all from Gharak's collection. Markers were gems for an action allocated to a miniature and numbered poker chips with flags stuck on for Blinds or objectives, depending on the scenario.

The story is left hanging slightly, there is another level of the facility to explore, if the British have any men left to do so!

The makeshift explosion was idly constructed as we were playing out of the wrappers from a box of chocolates. Not a bad effort - that Gharak is quite brilliant at bulding things 'out' of 'stuff'!

We used the Brink of Battle rules which we agreed made it quite easy to set up a balanced and fun game and were perfectly servicable for this size of skirmish. We wrote a few extra skills to account for the Weird, including a basic multiple wound system to cover the armoured battlesuits. I do wonder if we had made our men too tough, I seemed to have a devil of a time actually taking any Germans out, hence the less than impressive British progress through the attack missions. I also find the wound system often comes up with an odd result  - if hit, you get no effect, 'shocked' or killed outright depending on damage score compared to defense score, but if a model has already taken their action 'shocked'  doesn't do anything. And to kill something outright you seem to need to roll average or well on D10s on hit and wound rolls and your opponent needs to roll poorly on both too. But we did have a lot of cover on the board which seems to makes things more survivable.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the writeup. Finally, a Happy New Year to you all.

EDIT: turns out we were playing the shocked rules wrong, there is a CBT penalty for becoming shocked and if you incur a second, the model is removed from play. SWhich makes quite a bit more sense. Apologies!