Tuesday 29 November 2011

Battle Report - 28 Nov 2011

A bit of a departure here - I refereed/acted as rules consultant on a club game of Operation: Squad, to introduce five new folks (AndyH, Carl, Grahame, Dewi and Rob) to the system.

No photos, as I was having way too much fun :D Basic set up was a slightly stretched version of the "Take The Town" scenario, with six buildings either side of the main road across a 6'x4' board, and two British squads (Paras and regular) controlled by Andy, Dewi and Carl (to whom full marks for also managing a speed painting job on his Brits) facing a squad of Fallschirmjäger and regular Heer controlled by Grahame and Rob.

Lessons learned - as I think we figured out last time, things get a bit slow with two squads a side - it's not impossible, but it's generally easier if they wind up split squad vs squad, which they did this time.

The short summary: in the opening rounds, Grahame's Wehrmacht advanced through the wood to take one of the buildings. Andy's Para half squad opposing him spotted the sniper he'd left on a corner of the wood, and thoroughly suppressed him with Bren and rifle fire - a very convincing demonstration of Op: Squad's system, I thought. Dewi's half squad of the Paras came across the MG34 from the German squad, and took a fair hammering, losing their corporal and getting a couple of others pinned behind a hedge.

Meanwhile, Rob's Fallschirmjäger and Carl's British engaged in a firefight between buildings, resulting, largely, in a lot of chipped stonework, except for the British medic who got caught in the open and wounded.

About then, Grahame asked, idly, about the grenade rules. And, as I recounted to AndyM afterwards, "It was all going so well until they discovered grenades." In Grahame's defence, though, Carl started it.

Grenades in Op: Squad are refreshingly lethal, since they're 4d6 + VT and largely ignore cover. Over on the left flank, several grenades got tossed, wounding Rob's MG34 gunner and loader, and killing another, and taking out a couple on Carl's side. Back with the Paras, they unloaded on and managed to pin that damn MG34, just after it ran out of ammo. One of the Germans tossed a grenade towards the hedge the Paras were hiding behind, and it fell just short enough to afford them its cover, pinning one but otherwise largely ineffectually showering them with dirt and foliage.

Next round, the now-unpinned Para, clearly motivated by the fact that it was nearly closing time, retaliated by jumping the hedge and heading for the building containing the Jerries, pitching a grenade through a window as he came. The German at the window was sufficiently surprised at this reckless attempt to gain a posthumous mention in despatches that he failed to react in time, and got pinned by the resulting grenade blast. However, his comrade two windows down put paid to any thoughts the Para may have had of surviving to read his own commendation.

Over on the other flank, Rob's squad managed (with another grenade or two) to clear out the building on the British side of the road and occupy it, just in time for the end of the game, it being 10:30. Result, a German win, occupying 3/6 buildings to the British 2/6, with Grahame's Obergefreiter having made it across a gap covered by the Para's Bren and being only a move short of making it 4/6 for the Germans.

All in all, a cracking good time was had by all - several mutterings of 'must buy a box of....' and 'where can I get the rules?' I loved it, and I wasn't even playing!

Sunday 27 November 2011

28mm Op: Squad figures

As I've said before, I don't claim to be the world's best painter. But I'm quite proud of these for "wargame standard"...

Denison smocks are a sod to paint, too!

The science bit:

Wehrmacht (Warlord Games 28mm plastic):
  • primer - Army Painter Uniform Grey
  • tunics - assorted colours, see earlier post!
  • equipment - Citadel Commando Khaki, Bestial Brown, Black
  • entrenching tool handle - mix of Snakebite Leather and Commando Khaki
  • helmets - Tamiya German Grey
Paras (Warlord Games 28mm metal):
  • primer - Army painter fur brown
  • trousers - mix of Bestial Brown, Snakebite Leather and a touch of Knarloc Green
  • Denison Smock - Commando Khaki base, camo colours Knarloc Green and Scorched Brown (actually, I ran out of the latter, so it was a colour mixed to match)
  • webbing - Tamiya Field Grey
  • beret - Red Gore
Dip was brushed Army Painter Strong Tone (after a false start in which I forgot to shake/stir the new tin!). Base is my usual - Tamiya Dark Earth textured diorama paint, dilute PVA to fix Javis Moorland Scatter, then a few Gale Force rock fragments. Finally, some Javis static grass - I find that this works remarkably well if you grab a pinch in your fingers and sprinkle it - it seems to stand up much like it was dropped from a puffer bottle and is much less mess (more Wife Points).

The final step is a spray of Army Painter matt varnish, and we're done.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Putting my money where my mouth is

Subscriptions to Battlegames magazine are back open.

So I did. One 6 issue digital sub, duly Paypal'ed.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

The Quest For Field Grey

Current painting project is a squad of 10 Warlord 28mm Germans for Operation: Squad. I started out undercoating them in Army Painter 'Uniform Grey', which is great as an undercoat, but it's clear once you've got it on the figure that it isn't by any stretch of the imagination 'feldgrau'. By no means blue/green enough.

So, off to the web for various folks' ideas of what makes a good feldgrau.
  • Vallejo Model Colour 102 - "Field Grey"
  • Vallejo Model Colour 165 - "Grey Green"
  • Vallejo Model Colour 112 - "Yellow Green" good for faded/late war
  • Vallejo Model Colour 113 - "Khaki Grey"
  • Humbrol 27 - "Sea Grey"
  • Humbrol 75 - "Bronze Green"
  • Humbrol 79 - "Blue Grey"
  • Humbrol 106 - "Ocean Grey"
  • Humbrol 111 - "Field Grey" (discontinued)
  • Tamiya XF-22 - "RLM Grey"
  • Tamiya XF-65 - "Field Grey"
  • Citadel... well, nothing really.
Of course, it doesn't help that by the end of the war, feldgrau meant 'whatever you can lay your hands on to dye the cloth that's greyish'. And some weren't very grey :D

"Field Grey". Honest.
In the end, I was constrained by what I can buy locally on a Monday. Which means Vallejo is right out (no-one within 70 miles, as far as I'm aware). GW don't do anything that really looks right, our only Humbrol Acrylics stockist doesn't open on Mondays... so it was Tamiya XF-65 from Hobbycraft, and I'll probably do some mixing so not all 10 figures are the same colour. Photos to follow when I get cracking.

[Addendum: of course, not long after I posted this I remembered that we have a local Flames of War stockist (The Rift - Hi Trev!), and the FoW paints are actually Vallejo. Ah well.]

Monday 21 November 2011

"The Games Workshop Hobby"

Just received a link from the GW newsletter to a survey, with prizes.

I find myself both amused and a little disturbed that the questions all ask, not about wargaming, but "The Games Workshop Hobby". It's like the WWE not calling it "wrestling", but rather "sports entertainment".

Let's have a look:

1. How important is the Games Workshop hobby to you?
See.. the Games Workshop hobby isn't. I have a small LOTR Rohirrim force, and two sets of rules (WAB2, Gladiator) from a part of GW that they seem to be desperately trying to disown and don't play in the shops because it doesn't sell figures. How do I answer that?

2. What other hobbies do you have? Tick all that apply.
"Wargaming"? Not an option. 3's a followup.

4. What was your main hobby/hobbies before you got into the Games Workshop hobby. Tick all that apply.
Uh... I'm not into "The Games Workshop Hobby"? Again, 5 is a followup.

6. How important are the following aspects of the Games Workshop hobby to you?
List includes most of the things us wargamers do - painting, collecting etc.

7. How important are the following aspects in making the hobby enjoyable to you.
List includes things like being creative, actually using physical models, hanging out at the store[!!], socialising, etc. Again, things I do but not within the WH/GW setting. 

8. Imagine you couldn't do the Games Workshop hobby any more. What wold you do and why?
Wargame :D

And so on for about 20 questions. You get the idea. 

Hard to answer, and I suspect they won't like the answers they got.

Wednesday 16 November 2011

Battlegames saved!

From the Battlegames homepage:

[...] Battlegames is in the process of being acquired by Atlantic Publishers and will therefore become a stable-mate to Miniature Wargames. Deals of this kind obviously take time, but negotiations are proceeding extremely well and we are aiming to complete the handover by early December.
After six years of hard work to establish Battlegames in a highly competitive market, I am delighted that the magazine will now have the backing of Atlantic's highly professional and experienced team to help ensure that it has a bright future.
Battlegames will remain a stand-alone, bi-monthly publication [...]
 Woot. Yay. If you're reading this, Henry, I'll be subscribing next month.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

A small grumble

Dear TMP. 1998 called, it'd like its forum code back.

Particularly the bit that requires downtime for daily maintenance.

I mean, really. Sheesh.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Battle Report - 07 Nov 2011

Finally got to play a game of Operation: Squad last night, thanks to Andy from the club. Basic set up, with Andy umpiring, was four squads, one British Paras, one American and two German, set up with one in each corner and the Germans opposite each other. The German objective was for my squad to get off the opposite corner...

My Germans eye the killing zone between them and safety
We played a slightly simplified set of the rules, in part because all of us hadn't played before and in part because we missed a few bits.

In a nutshell? Brilliant, brilliant set of rules. The reaction rules are what make Operation: Squad, and it's just fantastic.

Here's how it works. Players move alternate figures, so let's suppose German A is making a dash for cover across a street. At this point, the British player can say that Brit X leans out of a window for a potshot at him. The German player can then react to that, and have German NCO B, who's covering A, take a pop at Brit X. And so on, until each side has committed no more than 3 figures. All the figures involved then have an initiative roll-off (2d6 + VT stat): highest goes first, ties are resolved by who declared first, and actions happen in that order. So, if, say, German A rolls 4+4 = 8, German NCO B rolls 8+5, and Brit X rolls 7+4, B goes first and sprays the window with MP40 bullets. If he gets a pinned or better result (wounded, killed), X won't be able to fire back: if he doesn't, X will fire before A makes it to cover...

All in all, elegantly simple and brilliant.

Oh. The battle? The Germans lost, due to getting caught from both sides. But I didn't actually care.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Battlegames magazine.

It would appear that the excellent Battlegames magazine is no more, at least as far as a print version goes.
Sad news, with a twinge of guilt, since a paper subscription was high on my list of things to purchase with my new extra disposable income.
Henry Hyde does seem to be an all-round decent chap, and it's a crying shame. Hopefully he can salvage what he needs to keep the financial wolf from the door from the wreckage.

Napoleon at War

I've been keen on the Napoleonic era for a long time. My school wargames club used to play Bruce Quarrie's rules from one of the Airfix Magazine Guides, and occasionally a set of (dreadful) home-grown rules that were entirely my fault. For a while, I started painting a bunch of Airfix figures as well as some Lamming Miniatures British light infantry, but in the end, university and D&D won out. On top of that, I absolutely aced my final (3rd year of secondary school, or year 9 to you youngsters) history exam before dropping the subject, largely due to getting to write scads and scads of stuff on Waterloo (based on the account in Ugo Pericoli's 1815: The Armies at Waterloo).

As I have commented in the past, I\ve been toying with shelling out on a bunch of Victrix and Perry 28mm Napoleonics and having a crack, probably with Black Powder. Gavin at the club has most of the Penninsular order of battle in 6mm, which is another way I could get a fix :D However, I was skimming a wargames mag last month when I happened on a full page ad for Napoleon At War. In a classic case of the Bader-Meinhoff phenomenon (look it up!), this was rapidly followed by an in-depth review in the most recent Meeples and Miniatures podcast which had me definitely intrigued.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, the rulebook arrived on Tuesday :D Lovely presentation, in the modern tradition of colour hardback with pictures and diagrams. Well-written, clear and interesting ruleset - has some nice touches, particularly in the handling of reserves/unengaged troops, and of skirmishers, and in the national characteristics of each army (boy, that takes me back to Bruce Quarrie!). In fact, the latter are, to a degree, what makes the rules - British line vs French column would appear to take on the atmosphere one expects.

It's designed for tournament play, but will clearly lend itself to handling scenarios/recreations of battles. Army lists are quite nicely done - currently available from the website for the Hundred Days, and a Hundred Days campaign book is on its way, and then (one assumes) other eras of the war.

The other key thing? They're producing box sets of brigades of figures for the Hundred Days - in some ways this is intended to be Flames of War for the Napoleonic era. The figures are heroic 15mm (i.e. about 18mm, matching AB and Eureka, and maybe other ranges at a pinch), and the basing is a little idiosyncratic. It could be scaled to 6mm or 28mm, provided you adjusted ranges etc to match. The figures look, from the photos, to be very nice, and comments on the forums suggest that they're sculpted well and take paint very easily.

In short? I think this has real potential. I've (sadly) blown this months disposable income already on some figures and paints for Operation: Squad, but next month (unless a couple of eBay sales pan out) I'll be picking up some French.
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