Sunday, August 24, 2014

Bolt Action Apocalypse - 6000 points of models and 60 order dice!

What happens when you take three guys, a bunch of free time, an empty gaming store and a big load of models? 

....Bolt Action Apocalypse! :-)

Having the change to go nuts, we decided to bring all the toys out to play so we could have 6000 points of models on the tabletop and blow lots of things up.

The Russian side brought a wall of armour to support their attack. There were plenty of veterans on their side but I had hope that the lack of long range AT would lead them to struggle. Then again they brought THREE artillery observers so I didn't hold out much hope for our troops to remain unpinned.

Especially since the Germans brought a veteran Tiger I. The Stug was actually played as a Sturmhaubitz since I thought we needed more anti-infantry than anti tank. Since the game was so big  I also went mean with the flame half track. I figured that if I could come on from reserve in the right position it would let me pretty much delete two units, which would be a real bonus on such a crowded battlefield. Otherwise the Germans had a few squads supported by a sniper and MMG team.

Our British allies were well equipped also as they brought commandos, troops, MMG carriers, a heavy armoured car and a Sherman.

Just for fun we swapped turrets ;-)

Here is our 8x6 table filled with terrain. The Soviets came in from the table edges at the back and to the right (from the picture's perspective). The German-British alliance was holding the village behind the river and could bring in reserves from the close and left edge.

Brits take up defensive positions behind the barricades. Those damn reds better not try to cross in front of us. 

The German force held the flank, hoping to cut into the side of the Soviet advance. I was looking forward to flank shots with the Tiger's 88mm gun.

Starting the battle, the soviet AA vehicle revved onto the field and poured fire on the squad moving towards the trees. Sadly for the halftrack's crew, the armoured car spun around, lined up the shot and put a 75mm shell right through their vehicle. The surviving crew bailed out of the ruined vehicle.

The T-34 rolled on here aiming for the Tiger. They bounced a shell off the front armour and then survived the Sherman's flanking fire (seen here).  

The second Soviet thrust came in from the flank. The British responded by calling down artillery fire. Sadly no direct hits were scored but we put a lot of pins on the enemy.

Then, evil, horrible, terrible disaster struck. I activated the Tiger, hoping to take out the T-34. The order check failed with a single pin and the veteran crew reversed before going down. Now, this wouldn't normally be a huge failure as they are pretty resilient behind all that armour right? Well yes, until your opponent brings on his anti tank dog team, rolls a 5+ to hit you, a 5+ to penetrate your armour and a 4+ to wreck your 500point tank. 

Our battle continued downhill as the Russians called in their artillery strikes. One pounded the British squads heading towards the flank, the other drew bead on the centre of our lines. The whistle of incoming heavy shells could be heard....

With an almighty crashing sound, a heavy howitzer hit took down the central building, burying snipers and machine gun crew under piles of rubble.

We valiantly fought back, with the BA-10 falling to panzerfaust shots. That'll teach you to bring an early war armoured car to a late war game where shaped charges have been introduced to the battlefield. Sadly this squad met a 76mm HE shell from the Su-76 before they could finish their victory dance and there were no survivors.

In the corner of the battlefield, the 37mm armed command half track tried to repeat its first success of immobilising the KV 2 but failed to penetrate the thick armour. Luckily for the crew, the massive tank couldn't seem to hit back, despite the point blank range.

The left flank was totally held by the Russians, despite a flame half track attack taking out a machine gun, sniper team and the Ba64 armoured car. 

The Sturmhaubitz was next to suffer from the deadly Russian dogs as it lost a track to the canines. Luckily the squads around took out the attackers but the armoured vehicle was stuck taking long range pot shots to little success.

Next up, the Germans collected their panzerfausts and tried to bring them to bear on the Su-76.

Sadly their efforts were in vain and the squads were battered back into cover by their Russian foes. Too many enemies and too little to throw them back with.

The Russian tank duels the Sherman and AEC armoured car, taking out the former. 

The left flank collapses completely and the Russian hordes swarm in towards the village.

At this point, after many hours of battle we called it in favour of the Red army. They put too much pressure on us, took out key units and left us scrambling to recover most of the game. My Tiger was too aggressively placed, the British led left flank lacked the ability to deal with the KV-2 and we just couldn't match up to the hordes attacking us. 

It was a great game despite the loss and we hope to play a big game again in the not too distant future :-)


Sunday, May 11, 2014

A big table means a big fun game! :-)

After what seems like quite a while, Gergely and I got to throw down for a rematch of the river crossing game we played last time. Because we wanted to just be crazy and use our new toys we decided to go all out and make it a huge affair. Nobody else was in the FLGS so we put two of the tables together to give us a chance for the big armies to move around. 

We were restricted mostly by the number of order dice we own and so locked it down to 16 units per side giving us quite a matchup. We counted the points as being around 1750 per side and it felt very epic.

Here is the setup. Germans are holding the right of the table, mostly around the river and village with their SS reinforcements coming in from the the corner area (the edges between the corner hill and the hill on the left, and the river on the right)

Here is where my Germans made their defensive lines. These troops were entirely inexperienced except for the sniper and HQ (who can't be less than regular). This lack of morale was to come back and bite me in the butt numerous times during the game.

Here is my MMG team overlooking the crossings from the house, the StuG guarding the bridge with its heavy anti tank gun and my improvised Nebelwerfer rocket launcher ready to add supporting fire. 

The main infantry line was dug in behind the barricades hoping to weather the Russian storm and put them down with hefty firepower. Inexperienced troops can still kill if they lay down enough shots. We marked the shallow ford in the river with the mossy bits. Vehicles can't cross but infantry could at no penalty. We only stipulated that they couldn't voluntarily go down to avoid fire and if forced to go down they would retreat to their side then go down. 

My elite SS reserve consisted of two veteran squads toting assault rifles and panzerfausts, a 1st lt with adjustant, two Hanomag half tracks to bring them onto the field and a veteran Tiger tank because....well because its' a TIGER :-)

These began the game off table and came on if I rolled 8 or more (D6 + turn number). It game me a slim chance on turn 2 but more likely on three or four, which we thought was a good balance.

Gergely's Russian horde was up to the challenge. He had a mass of veteran infantry including engineers toting body armour and a flamethrower, a foursome of support teams (AT rifle, snipers, mortar and machine gun) and four armoured hulls that you can see in the foreground. His SU-76 brought a medium AT gun and howitzer, the T-34 had the heavy AT, the Ba-10 a light AT and 2 machine guns, and the borrowed M17 halftrack was ready to throw down quad machine gun firepower.

Gergely's officer directs the Soviet armoured column forwards to the battle.

Unlike the rest of the inexperienced troops, who failed orders like crazy and hunkered down, the StuG shook off the effects of the Soviet opening barrage and readied an ambush shot. 

Gergely swarmed onto the field with his infantry horde pushing down the left flank towards the ford. His armoured units moved to the right ready to intercept the SS reserve. While my StuG managed to land a pinning hit on the T-34, the inexperienced group on the right were almost useless. Pinned down by Greg's repeated fire and my terrible order checks I think we managed to kill perhaps one or two Soviets in the first few turns. My Nebelwerfer was the most frustrating as it failed three order tests to fire, even though the commander was next to it, and couldn't put a barrage onto his tightly packed troops. 

Luckily for me Greg didn't manage to kill too many of my soldiers as they were packed behind cover but my numbers were steady reduced by fire coming from multiple angles. I was getting pretty desperate for my SS reserve to show up.

Turn 3 and I was lucky, rolling a 5 to bring in the elite reserves. I came in from the flank, leading with the Tiger who drew a bead on the T-34's flank. Gergely's tank fired first as it had been waiting in ambush but luckily for the Germans, the shell went wide. The SS crew zeroed in their 88mm super heavy AT gun...

Feuer! The commander yelled and the gunner obligingly put a shot through the flank armour of the Soviet tank. My penetration bonus was +7 and being a side armour shot I got +1 to the roll, which gave me good odds against the armour value of 9. I beat the armour by more than 3 points, scoring massive damage. This result gives you two rolls on the damage table with both applying. I rolled two twos and with a double immobilisation result, the Russian crew decided to head for the hills and the tank was destroyed. Now I was feeling better, despite the crumbling defense of the river.

Here we jump a bit more. Perhaps cocky after my Tiger's early luck I ran my SS elite troops out of the halftracks and into battle. One squad did well killing off the AT rifle and pinning the Su-76 with a lucky panzerfaust shot, but the other one ran right into ambushing fire from Gergely's inexperienced troops. In a humbling lesson, the raw soviet troops gunned down half of the elite SS squad and the survivors failed their morale check for 50% casualties with a double 6, running from the battle and for the hills. Curses!

In a lucky retribution for this loss, my Nebelwerfer crew finally passed their order check and fired at the mortar spotter who was in the woods by the Su-76. The whole area was plastered with heavy rockets and I had a stroke of luck rolling 6s to hit both the spotter and the inexperienced troops. A rocket launcher like this fires like a heavy mortar (2D6 hits, D3 pins) but can't zero in on the target turn by turn. Instead you roll to hit each unit within 6 inches of the targeted unit. I really lucked out as the spotter was killed by 9 hits and the inexperienced squad lost more than half their men but with his typical Skaven general luck (and a Soviet re-roll) Gergely rolled 4 to pass the morale check and stay on the table.

One of the last actions in the game was for Gergely's artillery barrage to come in on target and batter my surviving troops. Luckily he didn't roll any 6s, so nobody took direct hits, but four of my units and two of his took a battering and were pinned a lot. I had to switch to dice marking pins instead of the red chits as we were running low. 

Sadly this is where our time for the game ran short as we had dinner reservations in the local brewery with our lovely wives so we packed up calling it a draw. I was confident that my armoured attack on the flank would sweep around and save the centre and Gergely was equally sure his veteran troops would crush my weakened defenders and secure the river crossing. 

The game as a whole was a lot of fun with nice swings of luck on both sides. I think my mistake was definitely in not staying down with my low level troops for a couple of turns to get them unpinned. You can elect to remain down at the start of the turn and drop one pin marker without taking a test. Instead I tried rolling to pass checks and failed a lot, sending me down again without losing a pin. Had I let my troops recover a bit more at the start without trying to fire (which probably would have been pretty ineffective anyway) I might have had a stronger defence waiting for the Russians. 

Gergely's attack plan was pretty solid though in hindsight it might have been better for him to bring the armour in to support his troops directly. That way he might have overwhelmed me even faster and the SS reserves would have had a long drive to get close to the battle. He got unlucky with the armoured column as the T-34's destruction meant the Su-76 was blocked and struggled to turn around. You can see how a lack of turret was historically limiting in close range battles. 

A rematch is definitely intended and we hope to bring in a couple of new players from the club. If you get the chance I strongly recommend playing on bigger tables like this (6'x8') as it gives a much wider flow to the game, which makes you think and play differently. 

If you have any questions please just drop me a comment.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Warlord Games Tiger and StuG Part 2

Thanks to the Easter break I've been able to put some good modelling time into the new tanks and get them closer and closer to the battlefield. 

Here they are assembled. The Tiger turret was finished but then I realised that the gun was off centre due to the mould line I mentioned in the last post. I snapped it off before the green stuff had cured, filed down the base and then reglued it. Now it's much better.

Here's my StuG with tank commander and machine gun mount included. Because the machine gun mount isn't originally included in the model kit I drilled a hole for it and then glued it down over the right hatch, as was historically done.

While it may not be really obvious here I had some issues with the tracks fitting the hull. Both tracks were slightly curved, which I tried to fix with hot water (didn't make much difference) but more than that, the hull itself was convex on one side. It was too big of a job to try and file down without a dremel or the like so I decided instead to greenstuff the gaps and help hold the model together this way. It took a fair bit of green stuff but I hope I managed to make it look like there were just some welded parts in the joints. 

Here are both models on the painting table. They both got two coats of Vallejo Dark Yellow Surface Primer to start with and the StuG has had a wash of Agrax Earthshade with a bit of Nuln Oil added (my attempt to replace Devlan mud). For some reason my camera added a flash to this picture. Still, it gives you an idea of the colours.

Here is a natural light colour showing how the wash really tones down the yellow and makes it a nice battlefield tone. The plain primer is a bit bright. Now I plan to add brown and green camo stripes to go with something of the German tricolour scheme. 

Looking forward to getting these on the tabletop and if anyone has any questions about the models or the game please just drop a comment. 

Pete :-)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Warlord Games Tiger I and StuG models unboxed.

My tank reinforcements are here. Thanks to Warlord upping their usual 10% sale (buy 3 vehicles, get 10% off each) to a 20% last month, Gergely and I decided to get some reinforcements. His Russians will now be bringing a cute armoured car whereas I added to the might of the German army with a Sturmgeschutz assault gun and the mighty Tiger tank. 

I'm excited about both of these models and while the StuG will be more useful in game, the Tiger is just too iconic not to have in the collection.

Here are the bits from the Tiger I kit. It's a simple construction that shouldn't take me long to get assembled. In this picture all I have done is take a couple of the metal pieces off the sprues and washed the kit in soapy water to help with the painting later.

Here it is just balanced together with other models for scale. It dwarfs the poor little Sherman tank (also from Warlord) games and Asmodai is just helping to prop up the gun because he's a strong space marine!

The barrel has a mould line running down it but I don't expect there to be much cleanup involved. The metal parts are pretty clean,

Here is the flash on the turret. It's on the underside so shouldn't be visible and I don't expect any major problems cleaning off these resin gates and bits. 

On the hull I can see a few cleanup bits on the front left, again due to resin gates. There should be a quick cleanup and I think they will be covered by the tracks when I glue them so no worries there.

The StuG has more parts as it comes with various metal fittings, a tank commander and schurzen (armoured skirts). I'm not sure whether I'll fit the latter but perhaps. It was quite common historically I think.

***The machine gun in the bottom right is not included in the kit. It's from the Warlord Hetzer kit. The StuG should have a machine gun included but it currently doesn't. I contacted Warlord to ask about it, they took our order number and popped the machine gun in for free, telling me they'll talk to the model makes about updating the model with a gun. Thumbs up.

Again with the scale shots. The only issue I see here aside from some small, fiddly parts, is that the tracks don't fit on squarely because of two detail parts at the back of the hull. They lock in nicely with the superstructure but don't quite have the clearance for those back details (riveted plates of some sort). I might have to remove the plates to make sure I get a good connection.

That's all from me for now. Still enjoying the gaming a lot and trying to work on painting up the last bits of the collection. 

Best wishes


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Vallejo surface primer paint review - US Olive drab, German dark yellow (Dunkelgelb)

Hey folks,

As briefly mentioned in my review of the models last week, I picked up some Vallejo surface primer paints to start my models off the right way. What do I think of them? Let's find out.

First of all, I had a disappointing experience ordering these from Wayland Games. They were marked as typically shipping in 3-9 working days but no such luck. I contacted them after 11 working days and they said there were changing supplier. After 17 working days I contacted them again and we cancelled the black primer I'd ordered since they hadn't ordered from the new supplier and would have to wait to get it from the US. In the end it shipped some 20 working days after ordering, which is a bit annoying. Shame as I usually like Wayland but from now on it'll probably be relegated to those hard to find items that are not so time critical.

There was a slight leak in the package from Wayland Games. After the fuss of the delivery I was tempted to complain but it was minor and only a bit of paint leaked. I decided to let it be.

Here are the primers out of the bag and ready for action. They are pretty big bottles and of the dropper type. I'm not a huge fan of this as I find it leads to a lot of paint being wasted on the palette but it makes it great for airbrushes I suppose. 

Things to note about this paint. It's really thin, like thick milk. I've read that it can easily be used direct in an airbrush without watering down but if you're going to brush it on then you'll need more patience as you have to let it dry before moving the model around. I rushed a couple of times and realised a stream of paint had run down from where I'd been working before. Paint it batches and let it sit to dry, a bit like a wash has to. For the larger areas I got messy and poured the paint directly on to the model then moved it around with the brush from there. The Sherman was great as I could use the turret hole as a mini palette :-)

Here are the early stages. The first problem becomes clear. You MUST WASH THE MODELS carefully. I thought I had scrubbed them to clear the mould release but apparently not. The Sherman was the biggest problem, as you can see, but the M16 was equally annoying with the tracks. I used washing up liquid and an old toothbrush but apparently I should have worked harder and for longer. The resin German halftrack wasn't bad and the M16 body was fine, but the Sherman!!!

A close up of the paint problems with the Sherman. It was like painting on oil and I just couldn't get the paint to stay where I wanted it to. In the end I had to cover as best as possible and gradually go over the problem areas with future layers. Overall I think I put down about five layers of the paint on this model. Next time you can guarantee that model is getting scrubbed until it sparkles! :-)

Here are the German half tracks after two layers of paint. I might give them a touch more but it's a pretty solid coverage. Next up is a earthy wash and then I play to highlight them with more khaki tones and maybe some camouflage patterns. Marneus and the Dark Eldar are for scale and colour comparison because my camera can be funky with colours when taking under lights.

Here are all the vehicles together. The US ones have had a sort of Devlan Mud Wash (Agrax Earthshade with a glug of Nuln Oil to darken it down) and then are drybrush highlighted. The tank commander is a nice addition and I'm glad to have him on my vehicle. I want to add some brighter parts with white US stars and symbols as it'll make them stand out nicely. The reason my hand is in the photo is that I magnetised the flamethrowers on the half track and the gun on the rear halftrack so I can transport then more easily. 

Here you see the problem with brush on primer and larger models, especially when not cleaned. Those grey parts are where the primer didn't grip the resin or the places I missed during the painting. I think I might paint in sub-assemblies for future models. Or I may start with a black spray just to shade it before I use the primer as the base coat. We'll see.

Overall I can recommend the Vallejo surface primers and I think they are a great option for airbrush users or those who don't have a good place to spray. The colours are a great base for models, particularly the US olive drab, and it's nice to be able to brush on a primer when the weather doesn't work for spraying. The consistency of the paint takes a bit of getting used to and make sure you scrub the resin models well but overall I'm satisfied. To be able to prime and basecoat in one is a good deal and the price is nice too (about 5 pounds per bottle).

All the best