Monday, July 29, 2013

Bolt Action Assault on Normandy - Starter Set revew

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, just before we went out for a fantastic day in the sun by the lakes, the postman dropped by with a box of goodies for me. Thanks to the sarge program I'm the proud owner of Assualt on Normandy, the Bolt Action starter set from Warlord Games. Here is a little review/unboxing to give you some idea of what it's like :-)

Here is the starter box still closed up. It's suprisingly small, especially compared to other starter boxes. Here it is next to my spare box of Kabalite warriors. A surprisingly small difference between them.

It's packed with goodies though. You can see from L-R, a hardback rulebook, 20 German soldiers with weapons and bases, a ruined farmhouse, order dice and 20 US soldiers with weapons and bases.

The rulebook is top quality with lots of great photos to draw you in. The core rules seem to be fairly simple but with a good depth to them. I'll give more thoughts on these once I've read through a few more times and had a chance to try out the game. One big bonus point is the army lists in the back (example seen here) where many of the core units and tanks have their stats and points listed. It's fun that the writers have given justification for certain special rules based on historical precedent. For example, they give the Panther tank medium armour of 9 but with 10 from the front to represent the thicker and carefully sloped armour the Germans put there.

Here are the German sprues laid out. You get four body/arm sprues and then three weapon sprues. This is enough to give you lots of weapon choices to mix up your forces.

The Americans are very similar except that their bases are included on the frames. They come with two weapon sprues instead of three but there are still a lot of choices to come from it.

Here is the ruined farmhouse plastic building and the order dice set. The former seems to be a fairly flexible terrain piece to add to your game and can be built in the many ways, the latter are a fun way to determine the order of unit activation and what each unit will do.

You can see from this close up of a German body sprue and my spare box of Dark Eldar warriors that Warlord Games has nice sculpting quality and the plastics are well detailed.

The weapons in particular are extremely fine and make you realise how bulky the Games Workshop heroic scale guns are. Here you can see the MG-42, MG-34 and Stg 44 weapons with a couple of MP-40s at the top. The different weapons may have subtle differences (as in real life) but it's great to see all the different options available. 

Here is a German soldier with an MG-42 machine gun and an American GI with a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) support weapon. The figures seem quite slight at first and the bases are plain but the green stuff and flock will come out soon enough.

Here are two soldiers with submachine guns. At first the weapons seem really small on the figures until you remember that they are pretty realistically scaled.

The bodies from the US set (I've done more of those than the German) are quite hunched over in motion but that makes sense when you remember these represent people engaged in a violent and deadly conflict. Walking upright towards the enemy is a recipe for dying quickly and painfully. 

Here is a soldier scaled against my Archon and a terminator. The camera has blurred slightly at the edge but you can still see how busy GW figures are compared to historical soldiers in standard uniforms. 

Here are two riflemen matched with a Kabalite Warrior. Once you take out the base thickness there isn't much between the figure on the left and the warrior. She is definitely taller but that makes sense for a lithe Kabalite warrior.

So far, I'm really impressed with the Bolt Action Assault on Normandy starter set. The models are good quality, fairly easy to put together (the arms and guns can be a bit fiddly) and having some terrain is a nice tough. I'm VERY impressed with the quality of the rulebook and the contents. More thoughts on the game system and details of the book to come. As a game system, Bolt Actions looks like it has a lot to offer and I'm getting very excited about where to go from here. 

I hope this review helps anyone who's thinking about taking the plunge into World War 2 gaming. 

All the best


Friday, July 26, 2013

Sergeant Pete reporting for duty - Bolt Action calls!

It's refreshing when you move from Games Workshop's high-priced, strongly profit oriented game models (good though they are) to something different. Perhaps it's nostalgia and hearkening back to simpler times but it's a nice feeling nonetheless.  I've got this  feeling at the moment as I've put a mental check on expanding my 40k and have started focusing on other games, particularly those by Warlord Games. As a historical games manufacturer, Warlord offers four game systems that span a huge range of  historical warfare. 

Hail Caesar is their ancient warfare ruleset that runs from biblical to medieval times. I've been very taken with it as a way to explore history, particularly Imperial Rome and their enemies, and plan to develop this as a future project

Once gunpowder kicks in their rulesets of Pike & Shotte, and Black Powder take over.
Fast forward to World War 2 and you have Bolt Action giving you chance to play as Axis or Allies

Bolt action has been calling to me and Warlord Games has really stepped up to help me out here. I've been invited to participate in their Sarge program. They have sent me a copy of their starter set Assault on Normandy (for free) so that I can introduce the game to the local club and try to develop the scene. For each event I run showing and promoting the game I believe I will gain points of a sort that can be redeemed for miniatures. This kind of encouragement and support from a company is extremely refreshing and swaying me strongly to their side. I've already got plans to expand the American and German sets in the box, plus adding a British force a bit down the line. 

With a nice low cost of entry it's fun to consider the possibilities and stories you can tell. My plan is expand the starter set, perhaps with a machine gun or mortar for each side, then add a halftrack or light vehicle. From there comes a gun (anti-tank or artillery), a tank and some more troops. Before long there will be a tidy force on each side. Or if you prefer to jump in, go for one of the many army deals on Warlord's site, like the German army below, which is yours for 47 pounds.

I should get the starter set this weekend so there will be a review/unboxing yet to come. 

Sergeant Pete reporting for duty :-)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New Eldar battle report vs Death Korps of Krieg

Hi everyone, 

I managed to get my first game in with the Eldar/Dark Eldar yesterday and it was a lot of fun. I went up against my friend's DKOK army, which just looks stunning as he's a great painter and converter. It was a 1300 point game and the armies were as follows:

 - Jetbike Autarch with a fusion gun and Mantle of the Laughing God (AKA opponent trolling tool)
 - 2x4 Jetbikes each with a shuriken cannon
 - Crimson Hunter with exarch (proxied by a Necron flier)
 - Archon with venom blade, shadowfield and blaster
 - 4 blaster trueborn in a venom
 - 5 warriors with a blaster in a venom
 - 10 scourges with 2 blasters and 2 splinter cannons
 - Voidraven bomber with 2 shatterfield missiles

My opponent had a commissar lord, some veterans (with Bastonne and Harker), sentinels, two Leman Russ tanks, Rough Riders (with Mogul Kamir) and a Vendetta.

Here is the speedy force in all its semi-painted glory. It was a lot of fun to see them on the tabletop and I'm inspired to keep working on them so they are all painted.

My opponent has a fantastic army and his painting is top notch. It really makes a difference to play with painted armies facing off. I'm inspired to keep working.

Since his Death Riders are limited in number because of cost, King Theoden stood in with his Rohirrim warriors. These models were also painted by my opponent and gave a fun flavour to the game.

Deployment saw me hiding behind the buildings on the left of this picture. Alas, my opponent got some lucky hits and took out a venom full of warriors in turn 1. 

We rushed forwards to return the favour, killed a few but then got surprised by a heavy flamer outflanking sentinel. Those Scourges are about to end up toasty!

In the centre, Mogul Kamir's rough riders weathered the shuriken fire to close in on the jetbikes.

One veteran squad hunkered down in cover, camo cloaks saving them from most of the alien firepower.

The jetbikes stood little chance against the rough riders' hunting lance charge and were cut down in the first round of combat.

Unfortunately they didn't do so well against Archon Saban, losing their leader and then their lives while the tricksy shadowfield saved the archon over and over again.

The aerial dogfight was rough with the Crimson Hunter evading the Vendetta while the Voidraven turned as fast as possible, gunning down some veterans on the way.

The game ended with Archon Saban being shot down by overwatch after her shadowfield failed her one last time. This is close to the end of the game and though my Voidraven was still hunting the Vendetta, I'd been defeated by losing all of my ground troops. My opponent had the Vendetta, a veteran squad with characters and Bastonne hiding out in a ruin.

Defeated! :-)

So how does my speedy new force work out?

It's fun, fragile but a little light on firepower. I noticed that it moved more than I was used to but wasn't quite as fast as expected. I wasn't thinking about the basic move for most things being 12" and so expected to have more movement than actually happened. It's quite a close range force too with killing power up close but not so much from distance. I think if I had included the Vypers with missile launchers or brightlances it would have had a bit more diversity. I'm looking forward to trying that out soon as well as playing more with the force to get a feeling of what works and what doesn't.

A fun game all in all and inspiring from a painting perspective.

All the best,


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Do you tabletop gamers like video games too? Here's one I'm helping to make ;-)

Hey everyone,

How about a quick interlude in the tabletop gaming talk for another way of playing games?  

The video above is a project my friend is involved in to create a new video game. It's a fantastic concept that combines playful, almost childlike, imagery with a very dark and oppressive atmosphere. I've been drafted in to help with the soundtrack. 

Initially I was clueless about what I wanted to do and stopped even thinking about it. Later on I was playing guitar in the dark (I do this sometimes just to focus on the sound and relax) and hit two really nice chords by accident. Those two chords grew into the piece you hear above in the background of the video. You would have laughed to see me playing them frantically over and over as I tried to knock on the lightswitch with my head. I was worried I'd forget them if I stopped and needed the light to see what I was playing ;-)

They are looking for funding on Indiegogo at the moment and lots more info is available in the campaign page here:The Electric Adventures of Watt

If you are interested we'd love to have your support.

All the best,


Monday, July 8, 2013

Drybrushing vs normal painting. Result vs time input

The Dark Eldar are coming along. I've got a fire in me to finish the painting as fast as reasonably possible since I've got a bit of break from teaching as various clients take a week here or there for summer vacations. I've also got to clear the decks as much as I can before moving onto the new projects. I'll be going historical with my gaming thanks to Warlord Games. More on that in other posts as I break down my reasons and plans.

Here is the army as it stands so far with respect to painting. I've done the base coat for the Razorwing but it needs to go through a couple of layers of highlighting before it'll really pop out on the tabletop. The warriors are getting there with just the details and faces that need sorting out now. Those with keen eyes will notice the Dreadfleet auxiliary warships on the left. I needed a break from painting red and they are one of the few things left from the box I haven't painted. I'm quite keen to have a fully painted game of that soon.

So how do you paint quickly? 

One of the common techniques that people learn early on and then sometimes drift away from is drybrushing. I'm sure that most of you have used this technique but if not, it involves wiping most of the paint off the brush (so it's nearly dry) and then flicking the brush lightly over the model so that only the protruding parts get the paint left on them. It's particularly useful for hair, fur and chainmail when it would be very tiring to put down all the lines individually.

I used drybrushing to build up the basic undertones on the Dark Eldar warrior armour before doing the edging work with regular brushwork. When it came time to do the vehicles I had a dilemma as I wasn't sure that drybrushing would work well over flat surfaces. The first venom I did a few shades of drybrushing and then finished off with careful brushwork and thinned paints to bring out the highlights. I quite liked the look at the end but it took a long time and I was worried about doing it on the Razorwing, just for the time involved. 

The next venom I decided to do entirely with drybrushing to see if it worked out well and was a quicker way of doing things. It definitely was faster, but I had to work on the technique a bit. My suggestions for drybrushing vehicles are:
  • Take your time with layers and don't be afraid to go over it again if it needs to be more even.
  • Don't stop moving your brush. I found that the first few strokes left lines but that as I worked the brush over more and more, things evened out. 
  • Vary your angle of drybrushing so that you catch the lines you want to highlight. For example, I brushed down from the edge of the cockpit, from the leading edge of the wings backwards, generally along the hull and across the prow of the venom. 

So the question is, which one do you prefer? One of these venoms has been done only with drybrushing, one with a mix of techniques. The drybrushing was faster. Which of these venoms looks best and which one do you think is the drybrushed one?

Once somebody has had a go at the answer in the comments I'll reveal the truth ;-)

Good luck


PS: I think the Razorwing is getting drybrushed as the time savings are just enormous. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Struggling with Deathwing in 6th edition.

Hi everyone,

Recently I got to throw down with a couple of games against Dark Eldar, my own up and coming army. I brought the Deathwing out for a try against the speedy evil elves.

It didn't go so well :-)

Both games were pretty big for me (1850 and ~2000) and I was muddling with my collection plus some models raided from the shop's Dark Vengeance copy. In the end I brought something like this:

Belial, Librarian
2x 10 terminators (mix of guns and assault weapons), 7 terminators (TH/SS)
10 tactical marines, 5 sniper scouts

I ran up against a speedy Dark Eldar force that was something like

Archon with Incubi in raider.
2x warriors in raider, wyches in a venom
10 scourges with cannons
2 dark lance ravagers, voidraven bomber
(For game 2: The above + a Farseer, rangers and 10 reaver jetbikes)

I lost both games very badly and felt like I just lacked any kind of good way to deal with the Dark Eldar. I think it's a function of the models I have and how they are tailored more towards assault from 5th edition. Also, the Dark Eldar do love to play against high cost and low model count armies because they seem to kill of specialists quite quickly and easily.

The Good
  • I had fun playing and we played fast. Two games in just over three hours is great. I've finally found a good speedy player to go up against.
  • The painted armies looked sweet on the tabletop.
  • The Dark Eldar look like they'll be a really fun army to play, especially combined with speedy Eldar stuff. 
  • I'm excited to play such a dangerous and speedy army in the near future. 
The Bad
  • I got wrecked in both games and barely made a dent in his army. Outgunned, out-assaulted and outmaneuvered.  
  • My pure Deathwing are really struggling in 6th edition. I've got them geared up for assault but now, footslogging terminators are really going down at a speedy rate. It's frustrating.
  • I find I get one bit alpha strike and then it tends to go rapidly downhill.
  • I'm lacking the balance in the army list and I'm not keen on spending XYZ euros to add more models.

I'm not sure where to go now with the Dark Angels or if I want to invest more time and money into them. At the moment I'm working more on the Eldar / Dark Eldar. I think that's a combination of the novelty and also a change of painting style that's fun about it all. I have an alpha strike army list that adds three squads of devastators to the mix, which might be fun but it involves a bunch more investment and painting of figures when I already have a lot to work on.

I'm also planning to transition away from GW games as they have stopped being as interesting and varied for me. I still enjoy playing them a lot but more and more I think about trying out new things that have a lower cost of entry and give me new painting and gaming ideas. Currently top of my list is making Hail Caesar from Warlord Games a part of the local gaming group and using 6mm figures from Baccus and Rapier Miniatures to build up big armies without spending a lot of time and money.

Any thoughts on how to best enjoy the Deathwing in 6th edition?


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Dark Eldar Paint scheme coming together

Hi everyone,

Not much to report on my end hobby wise for good and happy reasons that I'll probably blog about in the near future. 

I've made a real start on my Dark Eldar / Eldar force though with the Kabalites/Trueborn/Archon models. So far it's just the basic colours to get an idea of the tones I want to work with and push myself with some new techniques. I've never spent a lot of time with the edge highlighting style so I decided that it was the perfect way to challenge myself and make the pointy Kabalites stand out.

All the models followed the same process over a black undercoat:
 - Drybrush scab red. Messy but cover it all. 
 - Progressively lighter drybrushing (twice I think) mixing P3 Khador Red Base into the Scab red.
 - Edge and area highlighting with Khador red (and patience).

This is from the new Fuji camera. I'm still working out how to best do Macro with it. The panorama shots are great but macro isn't quite where I want it.

Archon Saban (taken with the old camera). I spent a lot of time on her armour, really going bit by bit to make her stand out more. I like how it's turned out.

The group ready for battle minus one who didn't fit into the frame of the photo. I think this army will turn out very nicely. 

All the best