Monday, 25 February 2013

Falaise Gap - Flames of War Battle Report

Some eye-candy of a late-war Flames of War game I played in on Saturday.  The scenario was based around the Falaise Gap with the Americans (James) and British (David) attacking the flanks of the German retreat on the two side tables, looking to break though to the main big table and claim victory by securing the objectives on the road.  On the big table Phil’s Germans were supposed to be providing a rearguard against Red’s horde of Cromwells streaming down the road trying to overtake them.  Me and Laurent were defending the flanks, Laurent against the Americans, me against the Brits.  Approximately 11,500pts a side.

Sadly the scenario didn’t work out as well as I had hoped, with the Allied flank attacks being far too cautious and slow to make the main table, and Red’s armour coming up against a nasty combination of Phil’s Konigstigers and dug in infantry and making no headway at all in 5 turns.  A few twists to the rules, such as reducing the Germans AA power and points totals, and me remembering to force the German retreat more, would have made it work I feel, another time perhaps.  Victory to the Germans overall.

The British Armour (Red) musters for the assault on the Germans rearguard.

Th German rearguard - 6 Konigstigers in total.

Full setup, Yanks attacking the far flank, with Brits the near.

The German 'rear areas', consisting mostly of my troops who did little to nothing all game. 
The German rearguard again, complete with heavy artillery.

Reds Brits with some American support.

The American support gets caught on the road and decimated.

American artillery, unfortunately held back just too far to make a difference.

James tanks looking for an edge against Laurents Panzer III's and Tigers.

Davids Brits coming out on top against my small rearguard on the flank, although a shortlived victory thanks to counterattacking German armour soon afterwards.

Allied airpower - 3 strikes a turns wasn't enough due to the heavy concentration of AA guns in the German rearguard.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Saga Report: Part 2 – the Anglo-Danish Return

A late decision to turn to Saga instead of Pike & Shotte was a good one, although Red and Aidan were both unable to attend due to financial constraints (at this rate we’ll vanish – without a break in the job market even I won’t last the month).

Chris Fazey joined us and fielded a few of his Vikings alongside some of Lukes Anglo-Danish warriors and a bunch of my Bretonnians to make up a 4pt Anglo-Danish warband.  I took my Welsh (more Bretonnians, while Lukes fully painted Danish made up the third.  After a practice game to introduce Chris to the Saga rules we played a 3-way battle using the Feast of the Crows scenario in the rulebook.  This alters the way the turn works to make everyone roll and put down their Saga dice first, before rolling to see who went first, and this worked nicely in keeping the game rolling on. 

We played the full seven turns, with my Welsh clashing firstly with Chris’ levy, and having used my mounted hearthguard and warlord upon them, I then followed up by charging the enemy warlord (not that my warlord on his nice horse had much choice in the matter – within 12”, and with a desperate need to move to avoid Lukes slingers who were intent on pebbling him to death).  This went badly firstly for Chris’ hearthguard, then for my hearthguard when the warlord counterattacked, and finally for my warlord when Chris’ brought together a diabolical set of Saga skills to wipe the floor, the privies, and the local cess pits with him.  Down to 2 Saga dice and my battle was almost over, and Chris well in the lead in terms of victory points.

Lukes warband struggled to get to grips with anyone, and eventually had one of his warrior groups wiped out by Chris’ warriors, and then mashed my warriors, who, with only 2 Saga dice were an easy gain!  I decried both Chris and Luke’s warlords as being chickens because they spent the game hiding towards the back of their warbands (Lukes didn’t even get his axe wet!), while mine fought out front.  As a long term career this obviously has its drawbacks because he died.  Insults were slung about across the table, especially when Chris used ‘Intimidation’ to prevent me performing any activations in the last 2 turns!  The game ended with the time limit up, and Luke unable to move fast enough to engage Chris’ men who had scored more than enough VP’s by killing my lot (18 VPs, to my 12, and Lukes 8). 

Things we learnt:
  • You can divide your units into a variety of sizes, as long as none are more than 12 big, or less than 4 small.  So if you purchase 2 units of 8 warriors you can use them to make a unit of 4, and a unit of 12.
  • The Welsh are extremely vulnerable to missile fire – Lukes slingers particularly proved this point, especially when throwing stones at the Welsh on horseback.  You have to play to the strength of your faction.
  • The Feast of Crows scenario works nicely, and keeps the game flowing despite the number of players, thumbs up to Gripping Beast there.

Work In Progress......

Work in progress time, and following the trip to York and a general spending spree of the cash I’ve gained from selling various old GW stuff I thought I’d list the stuff I’ve bought (along with how many models it counts as for the painting ratio) that needs making and painting, and update the painted/purchased list.  Some random-looking stuff in there, but it all has a point!

  • Wars of the Rose Infantry – 40
  • Royalist cavalry – 12
  • Wars of the roses cannon – 5
  • Royalists blisters (dragoons) – 3
  • Medieval Cottage – 1
  • 4ground cart – 3
  • Norman Church – 1
  • Roman command – 3
  • Royalist command group – 7
  • Pigs – 4
  • Sheep – 6
  • Characters – 2
  • Donkeys – 2
  • Gripping Beast - 33

Purchased: 174
Painted: 57

Now onto a pressing issue; I have realised that with such a variety of models around I have not one project ongoing, not even two, three, or four, but instead eight!  Truly Aidans observation that the historical wargamer is unable to stick to one period is correct!  The projects are as follows:
  • Scenery – An overhaul of buildings mainly, something which I had less of.  I have a church, a medieval cottage and the bases of the two older resin buildings to paint.
  • English Civil War – an ongoing project, which at least has a definite size.  I’ve moved off foote regiments and onto horse ones (4 horse regiments in the army and none painted, shocking.  There are also a variety of characters and sheep hanging around, including the bits for a small supply grouping.
  • American Civil War – I’ve plenty of 20mm Airfix plastics waiting for me to test-paint the two bases of troops I’ve done.
  • Wars of the Roses – More infantry to go with the cavalry still in its box, and the cannon in its blister, approximately 57 models needing to be made, and near 100 to be painted, and I’ve not purchased all the bits for the army.
  • Bolt Action – 28mm WW2, and my hopes for a Soviet army are receding with my lack of cash (spent it on Saga), so I’m back to thinking about painting Germans.  Thinking that is, not really doing.
  • Saga – The new kid on the block, 33 metal Welshmen ordered and now arrived, courtesy of Gripping Beast.
  • Napoleonic’s – A sudden urge to make and paint my Perry’s French infantry grips me.
  • Romans – Enough models for a sixth cohort of legionaries are available, but they are a long way down the list.

So there it is, the list, with a total of 6 periods in history, just the 2 scales, and a horde of unpainted models.  To make sure I actually finish any models at all its clear some prioritisation is required, I need to pick a project and stick at it until something is complete!  Until yesterday it seemed fairly clear; scenery topped the list because it was useful for all 28mm games, and unlike partly painted models I can’t abide partly painted scenery.  This was followed by ECW because the campaign was in progress.
Then my Welshmen for Saga arrived, and spurred on by another really good game against Luke and Chris, and by Lukes ability to paint his whole 7pt Anglo-Danish force in 2 weeks they have jumped to the top.  I’m hoping to make, paint and dip them in time for the next game, a tall order most definitely, especially when I’ve a meagre 1.5hrs a night available, and this is generally gate crashed by other events as well.  If I can get them made, sprayed and partly painted I might be happy….

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

The Saga Report

Having invested in the Saga rules set, along with a couple of friends, at the Vapnartek show the previous Sunday I was keen to try it out.  A few absences in the form of Red, Aidan and Chris meant that it would be Luke, who had painted virtually all of his Anglo-Danish warband in the last week, making use of the plastic Gripping Beast figures, with a metal warlord.  My Welsh would be all metal, and are still on order, so a bunch of Bretonnians from my warhammer collection joined the fray to represent them, at least they were fully painted!

Luke had the figures, but hadn’t got the rulebook so of the three games we played the first was very much a demonstration game of how the rules worked, for me as well as him!  I pushed my Welsh forwards and fed them in one at a time to cover as many rules as possible so he could see how they worked, and by the end most of the Welsh were dead (the levy surviving!) and we were ready for a serious game or two.

The first used the Clash of Warlords scenario, where the last warlord alive is the winner, or after 6 turns it goes on victory points – based on the number of models killed.  The main Welsh drawback, the reduced save to missile fire (due to a lack of armour) wasn’t exposed, because the Anglo-Danish didn’t have any missile weapons, while the Danes got stuck in with their nasty axes.  I managed to use my bow-armed levy to draw in and trap a unit of hearthguard in a woods on the left, before destroying them with missile fire as they left it slowly.  In the centre I used more woods to good effect to position a unit of warriors to threaten the Danes main line, and to launch a sneaky attack on the flank of Lukes Warlord.  We had boosted up from 4 points in the practice game to 5 in these two, and I had added an extra unit of mounted hearthguard and mounted my warlord. This proved a mistake, because as soon as the Dane warlord came within 12” I had to charge!  Having worn his hearthguard bodyguard down with other attacks I launched my warlord and his own mounted bodyguard into them, pushing them back and wiping out the Danish hearthguard.  It took the sneaky flank attack from the warriors in the wood to knock the warlord from his feet afterwards however.  Victory to the Welsh.

The second game used the The Challenge scenario, where both warlords squared off with 12 wounds a piece in the centre, and the warbands raced to assist, or fight each other – first to die loses!  The initial clash of warlords saw my Welshman (on foot this time) come off worse to the Danes doublehanded axe, and it became more cagy, with dice on the battleboards added in when a fight started.  Both warbands advanced directly across the field, apart from my mounted hearthguard who went wider, and charged in on the flank of the Danish advance.  They were lost, but the levies bows finished off the two units that had destroyed them.  In the centre a guard of honour was forming as neither side attacked the opposing warlord, until I got desperate and a bunch of warriors threw a shower of javilins.  This backfired, because not only did they fail to injure the Dane warlord, but it made it open season on mine, who, after a couple more equal fights with the enemy warlord succumbed to a Danish warrior stab in the back.  The Danes being fortunate it ended there, having two models left!  Victory to the Anglo-Danish.

What we learnt:

  • The basic rules!
  • The game is similar to chess in that you need to plan using your Saga dice and battleboard what the opposition will do in reaction to your moves, and plan a few moves ahead to be successful – tricky to do.
  • Fatigue is important – the opposition use your fatigue to gain advantages in combat and shooting.
  • The Welsh dice don’t roll dragons (sixes!) very often!
  • Playing to your warbands strengths, which I did with the woods in the second game, can really pay off.
  • The Battleboards are what make your army different from the opposition.
  • Your warlord needs a bodyguard, and works best with one.
  • It is an enjoyable game, and short – we got 3 games, including learning the rules, inside 3.5 hours, it also needs very little space to play, the scenarios only call for a 48” by 36” space, and with fewer models and scenery its easier to set up and pack away.

Will definitely get a few more outings, although next week we may have to turn back to the English Civil War and the fighting in plague-ridden Cheshire!

The third game, with the warlords taken central stage between the two warbands.

The Anglo-Danish troops advancing towards the Welsh in the second game.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Battle of the A49 - English Civil War Battle Report

Less of a battle report this one, more of a few pictures with some background.  I normally try and put up a report a day or two after a game but circumstances conspired against it this time and its taken a bit longer.

The Battle of the A49 was a clash or two between the Royalists Lord Byron and Lord Flasheart, obviously disagreeing over who had the right of way at a traffic calming measure.  Lord Byron picked his side, and oddly went for the side without the hedgerows – obviously confident in his troops numbers (500pts to 400pts of Lord Flasheart).  Flasheart brought just infantry and ordinance (an entirely painted one!), which lined the hedges but lost the war of attrition against his enemy who advanced swiftly to pistol range and then engaged in a push of pike, with Byrons horse pushing Flashearts musketeers back on his right, and swiftly moving shotte sleeves doing the same on Flashearts left.  The defending ordinance fired 12+ shots between them before running out of ammunition, but missed all but one, and the confrontation was lost.

Flasheart wasn’t going to take this lying down, well, not while outside of a taverns 4 walls, and formed up his troops to defend the next  available junction in the short time that was left in the evening.  This time his foote marched swiftly into position, and fended off the enemy attacks long enough to claim victory.  The campaign rewards per side were an extra village (Ollerton) for Byron, and some tougher cavalry for Flasheart.

For those following the By The Sword Divided campaign, see here:

Sir Ralph Hopton's pike push back Byron musketeers, but the pike beyond will do the same to them.

The King's Lifeguard defending a hedgerow before the horse broke through the musketeers lines.

The main area of fighting, with Byrons horse having broken through in the foreground.

Lord Flasheart deploys once more - Stradlings foote tasked with holding the junction.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Declaring for the King - Part 5

Its been a mere month since my last  English Civil War update, but a long time since I decided to move from 8 figure musket sleeves to 12 figure sleeves, and thus rendered every unit in the army unfinished apart from 2 artillery pieces and a commander.  However, in a blitz of painting and sudden dipping motions (well, painting the Dip stuff on) I have completed not one, not two, but three foote regiments!  Admittedly the Kings Lifeguard and Stradlings foot needed only 8 musketeers apiece, but Sir Ralph Hopton’s foote were a total of 40 models in musket and shot, and to cap it off I finished the army commander; Lord Derek Tiberius Flasheart!  Oh, and the three foote regiments even have bigger and better (historically accurate) flags!  I have now started painted one of the horse regiments.

There has also been action in terms of purchases and modelling; I picked up another box of Warlord cavalry and a blister of mounted officers at Vapnartek 2013 which will be used to provide the dragoons with a mounted version (currently they walk everywhere!).  There was even 2 horsemen spare to finish off a horse regiment, taking my horse wing to 4 regiments.  I’ve completed these two (but not painted) but the mounted dragoons are awaiting a couple of modelling additions before they are complete. 

The full army list now looks like:
Commander: Lord Derek Tiberius Flashearts

Foote - Sir Hugh of Beeston
Regiment of Foot (Stradlings; Blue jackets) - Standard - 16 pike, 24 muskets
Regiment of Foot - (The King’s Lifeguard; Red jackets/Red Flag) - 16 pike, 24 muskets
Saker Battery - 1 gun

Foote - Bishop of Bath & Wells
Regiment of Foot (Talbots; White jackets/White Flag) - Standard -16 pike, 24 muskets
Regiment of Foote – (Sir Ralph Hopton’s; Blue jackets/Red Flag) – 16 pike, 24 muskets
Mortar Battery - 1 gun

Horse - Brigadier Wolfe
Regiment of Horse (Sir Horatio Carys Horse) - 8 horsemen 
Regiment of Horse - 8 horsemen
Regiment of Horse (Sir Richard Astleys Horse) - 8 horsemen 
Regiment of Horse - 8 horsemen 
Regiment of Dragoons – 6 mounted (unmade), or 8 dismounted
Regiment of Dragoons – 6 mounted (unmade), or 8 dismounted

All the units are standard in size as agreed at the RGMB club for the Pike & Shotte rules, and this gives me a painted to unpainted (cannons count as 1, with 1 for each crew member, horse count as 1 model per rider and horse together) for ECW as:
Painted – 131
Unpainted - 102

The King's Lifeguard & Stradling's foote regiments, plus Sir Hugh.

The foote and ordinance.

The ordinance.

Sir Hugh of Beeston.

The whole bally lot.

Lord Flasheart.

The foote in their preferred Terico formation - pike in the centre, shotte around the edges.

Brigadier Wolfe and his horse brigade - 4 regiments of gallopers and 2 of dragoons (shown unmounted and praying for horses).

Sir Ralph Hopton's foote regiment.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Vapnartek 2013

For only the second time I headed North-easterly to York racecourse for the Vapnartek wargames show, the first being a trip in 2010 with Red, Nathan and Ian to take part in the Flames of War tournament (or in Ian’s case the Warmachine one).  This time my travelling companions were once more Red, and Luke.  Red joined me at Wrexham, we headed to northernmost Widnes (a place most unlike any other part of Widnes it seems) to pick up Luke, and drove up to York in my car, making numerous wrong turns, and trading money for bounty bars and toilet stops.

Arriving at the racecourse in York we had to park in a place marked ‘dry standing’, although perhaps that was only when it hadn’t rained; there is still Yorkshire mud on the car tyres and I managed to miss Luke almost falling flat pushing the car out of its space later on (thanks lads for the shove!).  Admission was £4, and we instantly became aware that it was extremely busy, so much so that it was difficult to move without jostling someone, or see anything at a stand or game without being jostled yourself.  As such we didn’t stop to play any of the participant games, and I didn’t buy anything until after lunch when it had quietened down and you could see more clearly.  Red had no such scruples’, and spent lunchtime reading the SAGA rulebook and admiring Gripping Beast Vikings!  After lunch Luke and Red, having mostly made their purchases, trailed after me as I wandered back to the places and bits I had already spotted, and helped find things for me (thanks again lads – especially Red for his paint colour finding expertise!).  With the bag full we headed back to the car and a steady trip home.

This years purchases:

SAGA rulebook & measuring sticks – Aidan had planted the seed of buying into SAGA a while ago, and with Red buying the book early on I stepped down from my fence and also made the purchase.  Luke and Red both bought Gripping Beast plastic troops as well to use for it, but being unsure which box suited my purpose of being Welsh the most I left that for a later time and more research.

Wars of the Roses – All Perry’s miniatures; a boxed set of WOTR infantry and a cannon.

English Civil War – A box of cavalry, with an additional blister of 3 models to make up the numbers in my dragoon mounted units.  I also bought a wooden 4Ground cart to act as part of a supply when I get the rest of the donkeys and oxes (I initially panicked when I got home in the fear I hadn’t actually paid for this – no receipts being the order of the day for traders – but remembered later than I had got it from the Gripping Beast stand.

Romans – A blister pack of Legionary command to complete an additional cohort for my 28mm Romans.

Scenery – A road (finally!), a total of 7 foots worth, along with 5 pieces of wicker fencing.  I also bought the Perry’s medieval cottage (plastic with more fencing).  Finally the find of the day; a 28mm church in a Saxon/Norman style, made of wood but sadly without the bell tower.  Still with plenty of character tho, and good for Dark ages through to modern day!

Hobby – Finally another 6 Vallejo paints with painting my 20mm ACW troops in mind, and a superglue pot.

Things that missed the boat and final word – I didn’t manage to get a few things which began the day on the list, including a river and ponds, WOTR Men at Arms, 4Ground buildings for ECW (not enough variety there) and Russians for Bolt Action (the Plastic Soldier Company prices not nearing the online prices sadly).  Overall a fair outlay on a variety of items, including topups for my Royalists, WOTR and Romans, plus additional scenery and a new game. 

Overall impression of the show:
Very busy, almost too much to shop!
Few participation games.
Great range of traders.
Not enough space (especially compared to Tripples) for everything, which made it seem busy and difficult to move.
Needs a ‘picnic’ area for those of us who brought sandwiches!
Wood seems to be replacing resin as the material of choice for scenery.
Warlord games must be raking it in – their stuff was everywhere, far less FOW.
The hired tables (replacing the Bring and Buy) were very busy.
Would definitely go again, good day out.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Flames Of War Battle Report – Grenadier Kompanie Vs.Strelkovy Battalion

Tonights opponent was Dennis at the Deeside Defenders, and with a 2,000pt game agreed, and a Grenadier Kompanie picked, I turned up wondering what I would face.  It would be Eastern Front, that was also agreed, but I had no idea what his collection consisted of, and in a paranoid fit about the possibility of it being a wave of T34’s I had kitted my grenadiers out with PaK38’s, PaK40’s, FlaK36’s and 3 StuG’s, plus 2 pionier platoons.  The opposition arrived, and revealed his force – Russian Strelkovy. “Damn”, I thought, “didn’t pick my HMG’s”.  The No Retreat mission was rolled and I, thankfully, was picked as the defender.  I set up objectives and troops, and then watched in horror as the enemy deployed.

The lead Strelkovy company consisted of 44 bases of troops.  There were riflemen, submachine gunners, pioneers, flamethrowers, scouts and anti-tank rifles.  I needed to kill off 23 bases just for the company morale check, which he would pass on a 3+ with a re-roll.  To cap it off they were backed up by a heavy tank company of 7 KV1e’s, some heavy mortars, AT guns and a second (thankfully much smaller) strelkovy company.

The Battle: 
This monster deployed, then used its scouts to infiltrate, then had first turn, swamping my first line of defence in the trees.  I was one pionier platoon down and the enemy were 2 teams down, it looked bad.  The monster swept onwards, with its minions following at a slower rate.  It crashed into my second line of the large pionier unit and my 2 HQ bases, and this, backed up by the FlaK36’s at point blank range, staved off the assault with defensive fire.  Three times the Russian horde came forward, and three times it was bounced back by the smallest of margins while heavy mortar fire and AT gun shells rained down. 

German re-enforcements arrived, and took up positions on the flank of this fight, with German mortars laying smoke to prevent the Russian mortars and AT guns from interfering.  The third wave attack was followed by the KV1e’s assault, but this fell foul of the FlaK36’s, and the StuG’s manoeuvring on the flanks.  With the German position finally stabilising the Russians had finally shot their bolt.  The monster strelkovy company was unable to advance from its woods, while the German infantry risked annihilation if it went in pursuit.  The StuG’s were intact, while 5 of the 7 KV1e’s burned, and the Russian CO conceded the field.

The deployment positions, before the Russian infiltration!

The monster takes the first wood...

Followed by its KV1e backup.

The German positions.

Smoke drifts over the battlefield as the last big assault goes in.

Post Game analysis: 
The Russian infantry company was truly something I had not seen before, and an awesome spectacle of manpower and combined infantry arms.  It formed up like a French Napoleonic column and came straight for my lines, with no subtlety intended!  I was lucky to beat it off as often as I did, and fortune that the heavy mortars didn’t damage my FlaK36’s position until the final moments when the rest of my infantry had arrived from reserve.  Dennis conceded, but a draw was more of a fair result.  If I would have had to attack there would have been only one result, and it wouldn’t have gone my way!  Oh, and this report took around 25 mins to complete, someone asked me that once ;-).