Goals, motivation, and progress: The road to 350.

January is seeing some slow but steady progress on my goal of 350 painted miniatures this year. I’ve prepped a bunch of Ground Zero Games old school 25mm Star Grunt minis and started painting a squad while waiting for some 6mm Battletech minis to dry between paints and washes. I’m batch painting both projects so it’ll add up to about 15 miniatures done for the week, which is a good start to the year!

Ground Zero Games 25mm Star Grunt figures getting primed
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Sound of the Guns. Nuts! Blood on the Risers Solo mission.

As my ragtag platoon advances towards Saint Mere Eglise it comes upon a cluster of houses that is clearly being used to garrison some Jerry’s. We need to clear out these houses so we’re not leaving enemies to our rear when we get to Saint Mere Eglise. As we ready our assault we run into a lieutenant an eight more paratroopers. We split into three squads and advance to secure what will be our Northern flank.

My character, a .30 cal team and an assistant charge around the corner of a hedge, surprising the crew of a Pak 38. They don’t even have time to raise their rifles and a grenade and a hail of gunfire tears them apart.

The rest of the men advance towards two other buildings, grenades at the ready. It worked well last time, enough high explosives seems to calm any German down. Unfortunately the dice have us sitting still for two turns, not good in a game with a 12 turn limit. The PEFs move (a second one being generated by activation dice) but no Germans see us yet.

Turns four, five, six, and seven see me bogged down by a cluster of enemies in the center of the table. A two man anti-tank team armed with assault rifles knocks two men out and pins down my other machine gun for the rest of the game, even after they’re finished off with grenades. An HQ squad in the center survives multiple machine gun burst and grenades by hiding out in a barn and an MG42 team is finally killed by point blank fire after surviving three turns of withering fire and grenades. It’s a good thing I found so many gammon bombs last game.

A panzerfaust team pops up behind my men (I forgot to resolve a building I needed to clear out) but is quickly suppressed by my .30 cal and picked off on turn eight. Unfortunately on turns eight and nine only my character and his squad get to go, but it’s enough to round the corner and take out the remaining MG42 team. Four rounds have passed since the Germans have activated, machine guns and grenades have kept them ‘ducked back’ the whole time to boot.

As the game comes down to the wire a scout squad appears near the last building that needs to be cleared. My character comes into line of sight, another assault rifle armed ant-tank team appears and I win the In Sight Test but fail to do anything but suppress them with machine gun fire.

The scout team sneaks up to the front of he building and tosses two grenades in. Or tries to at least, one guy drops his grenade and the scout squad dives for cover barely escaping the blast. The grenade kills both Germans on turn 11 winning me the scenario just in the nick of time.

My two Out Of Action men seem to have just flesh wounds and were carried off the field by their buddies. The Lieutenant and his squad are folded into my platoon. We gather some replacement weapons for our unarmed men and continue on towards our objective: Saint Mere Eglise!

Several of my men at this point are carrying captured weapons. There doesn’t seem to be any rules for this though. Following the spirit of the scenarios my men aren’t going back and scouring the battlefield for loot, we have an objective to achieve and we need to press forward. As scenario 1 ended my squad had just killed a machine gun nest and a load of AAA crew so I scavenged the MG42, MP40 and a couple of KAR 98’s for my unarmed men. At the end of this scenario my squads are next to several men and grab assault rifles for the last unarmed men. I have decided that once these men roll Out of Ammo results that the scavenged weapons will be useless, either truly out of ammo or damaged or fouled beyond immediate repair.

I’m starting to get the hang of the game. The charts and tests are intuitive after a while. I know I’ve messed up several things in the past like wound checks and the Outgunned mechanic but game play is starting to flow well now. I think my next step is to actually use the squad rosters and maybe add some traits to my men.

Thunder and Flash! Nuts! Solo campaign.

One of the reasons I wanted to learn Two Hour Wargames’ system of rules was to play co-op games with my friend Murph. The stars aligned and Murph came down to play a game and catch up, so I picked up the Nuts! campaign Blood on the Risers campaign so we would have something a little more structured than the random learning games I’ve been playing solo. We played through the first scenario and I replayed it again at night.

The campaign begins with my lone lieutenant parachuting into Normandy in the middle of the night on D-Day. A AAA battery and three PEFs are deployed to the table. As my character searches the fields for some equipment bundles the PEFs move on up towards me.

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Nuts! Round 2. Solo Wargaming

Game number 2 has my platoon of US Airborne defending a farmhouse from an impending attack by the Germans. I set up my forces, generated the PEFs and started the game.

Not wanting to leave the cover of my stone walls and ruined buildings I waited for the Germans to advance, only shifting one .30 cal team to my right since two PEFs appeared in the woods. As the closest PEF moves into view it resolves into three armored vehicles! Since I have only one platoon with one bazooka I decide that they will appear as three half-tracks, sent in support of the advancing troops. It doesn’t make any sense that they would appear in the middle of the board, so I have them enter the board at the roads to my north.

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Studio Miniatures Die Verdammten (Nazi Zombies)

One of my 2019 projects was to paint up a bunch of Nazi Zombies for our yearly Weird War II game at Council of Five Nations. I picked up a couple boxes of Studio Miniatures Die Verdammten, plastic Nazi Zombies. At the time they had a bundle that included two twenty zombie boxes, some alternate metal heads and a metal Nazi officer mini. I was excited to have cheap ‘multi-pose’ plastic miniatures so I could fill the table without breaking the bank.

While they’re technically multi-pose there is only two bodies, one alternate head and three sets of arms per sprue, so the actual range of poses is limited. I used the alternate heads and left over bits from my Warlord figures to increase the variety. The Warlord figure were also very usefully for using up the left over arm and head bits from the Zombie sprues, leaving little waste and ‘fleshing’ out the horde.

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Wrapping up my first 350! 2019 painting in review.

2019 is almost done and I haven’t blogged since the beginning of the year! I set out in January with a goal of painting 350 28mm miniature figures, with my major projects being a WWII Soviet army, Terminator Genisys miniatures and a mix of zombies including some Nazi Zombies for a convention game in my hometown I attend every October. I never got to the Soviets, as a matter o fact I’m trying to sell them off since I don’t think I want to do the Warlord Games plastics, they’re too fiddly and the weapons are too prone to breaking. and I didn’t do nearly as much as I thought I would of the other tree. I wound up only getting 16 Nazi zombies and 8 modern zombies done, and only 28 of the Genisys miniatures completed. Considering how easy the Terminators are to paint that’s a pitiful amount.

I took on two commissions from friends, one a continuation for Murph of his German WWII army and another from a new player at the club just south of me for another German WWII army. It helped fund some hobby purchases and is part of the reason I got so many of my own Germans done this year but it did cut into my painting time, I was worried I wasn’t going to make my goal but I picked up speed as fall hit and the convention stuff was done.

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The road to 350

2018 was a slow year for me. Between finishing up a degree, having a baby and starting a new job miniatures and gaming took a back seat. 2019 is upon us, the baby is almost a year old and I’m settling into the new job pretty well. I started thinking about what I want to get accomplished this year and decided to set myself a goal. 350 miniatures painted by the end of the year.  This sounds lofty, but there are several reasons I think I can get this done.

  • On a normal week of painting a couple hours a night for 2-3 nights I can usually get done about 10 figures if it’s batch painting uniforms, 6-8 if they’re individual characters.
  • My main project of the year is a Soviet WWII army. This will require me to paint over 100 soldiers, which I’m going to use ‘The Dip’ method on to speed up the process.
  • The other project I’m working on this year is the Terminator Genisys game. I have a little over 60 Terminators, which are easy as pie to paint up by the dozen since they’re simply prime black, drybrush gunmetal, wash, drybrush silver, paint eyes and the plasma gun. The resistance is almost as easy since I’m sticking to batches of 16 figures with a simple camo pattern (it’s the future, I can make it up!) and armor. The sculpts are pretty basic but well done so they should paint up pretty quickly. My guess is once I get going it’ll be 8 resistance and 8-16 Terminators a week.
  • I have two batches of zombies and one batch of Nazi zombies to finish up. This totals about 50 figures  and most of the zombies are simply going to get basecoated, dip’ed and then a simple highlight. They’re zombies, they’re dirty, and they’re meant to die by the bushel load.

These three projects account for roughly 250 of my 350 goal. The rest will consist of D&D minis, finishing up the German and US WWII armies I have, finishing up some German minis for a friend and a whole bunch of 6mm stuff I dug out of storage when my Ogre Minis II pledge showed up.

The second part of my New Years pledge is to not buy hundreds of minis this year. I’ve made several allowances if the prices are right. For years I’ve been drooling over two lines of minis. I missed out on the Starship Troopers game when it first came out and Dreamforge games makes a line of Eisenkern minis that I like. I have some of each already now and keep looking out for good prices. I still need some vehicles for my Soviet army, and if Warlord runs another sale after my raise comes in I will grab a couple vehicles. I already have enough to paint for this year though.

The year has started well, it’s the last week in January and already I have almost 60 minis finished for Terminator and another couple dozen random minis that were assembled and primed so I could clean of the paint desk.

CoC: Homerun at Osmanville

We’ve been playing through the 29, Lets Go! campaign for Chain of Command casually since the beginning of the year. We weren’t interested in fighting back and forth through the scenarios and replaying until the Americans won, so we just played each scenario once and moved on. Dan and I wrapped it up with scenario 5 last night. We’ve learned a bunch of lessons over the course of the campaign. One of the first was that this game tends to take longer than 2 hours to play. I’ve had a number of people tell me that they get through the average game in just about 2 hours, our experience is that with two players each game should take about 3 hours to fight to a conclusion. At the 2.5 hour mark we’re usually able to tell how its going to go, but we wouldn’t actually reach the objectives for at least another half an hour. Considering our time restraints (it’s an hour drive for me to get to the store) we generally call it right around 10-10:15 so I can make it home by midnight.

The building on the far left is the objective, the Americans have to either reduce my force morale to 0 or take the building and end the turn to win. Our Patrol Phase wound up with us deploying our jump off points about 3/4 of the way up the board, one either side of the second house and hedges there. Dan’s tank would, of course, have to deploy down one of the roads.

Dan chose his mandatory Sherman, plus a .50 cal and a .30 machine gun and the extra BAR for each squad. The .50 cal would go on to be the American VIP I believe, the reduction in cover being a major factor and one of the things that makes it almost mandatory for us now.

 

I chose a PAK38, an MG42, an adjutant and two pieces of barbed wire. With the Americans having TWO senior leaders and the Germans only having one I felt I needed to get mine on the board early. Rolling multiple 4’s would be an ongoing theme for BOTH sides during this game. I unfortunately left the barbed wire stands at home, so had to make do with a roadblock on the upper road. I think the barbed wire would have been a lot better, letting me deny the spot that the Americans used to great effect.

The game started off with a good American deployment at the house. .50 cal, one full squad and the platoon Sargent, I answered with two squads, one in the upper right of this photo and another just to the left with a clear line of sight down the wall in front of the house. I also deployed the MG42 in the second floor of the house. I fired on the .50 cal to no effect.

Dan opens up with his .50 cal dealing 4 kills to a German squad, it’s cover reduced to nothing do to the heavy weapon. My Germans respond with a double activation, deploying the Pak38 on the only road the Sherman can come down and firing on Dan’s mortar, doing only a single shock.

 

Dan responds with a double activation of his own, Firing the .50 cal on the same German squad up in the corner, causing them to break as the casualties and shock stack up. They will never recover from this and spend the rest of the game cowering behind several hedges.

Dan uses the Marching Fire ability to hop a wall and put some fire down on the squad I had deployed across from the house. The only thing that saved me was having gone tactical at the end of my last activation in fear of the .50 cal. Dan followed this up on his second activation with 2 kills and 3 shock! His mortar landed a round on the Pak38, adding one shock and a kill. I continued this throughout the game, using my senior leader on this squad to remove shock and have them go tactical, the only thing that saved them.

I used my activation to shoot on Dan’s advancing squad with both of my squads and throw some hand grenades to minimal effect, 1 kill and 1 shock.

Dan decided to bring on his Sherman at this point, unfortunately I didn’t have a full CoC die to fire on it with the Pak38! His main gun causes only shock on the anti-tank gun.

Thankfully I rolled another double activation! Firing with my squads and then following up with a Handgranaten attack I almost wipe out Dan’s squad at the stone wall, they break and Dan simply removes the 2 survivors from the table. I fall back behind the hedge I came from and go tactical again. There’s not much left of this squad but they would survive right up until the end of the game, falling back far enough that the senior leader could start commanding the MG42 to fire.

My Pak38 saw it’s short useless life ended as the Sherman hits it again, causing two kills and breaking the unit. The two survivors run for their lives with five shock on two men. (use I’m using a 105 howitzer as the PAK38)

I roll four 4’s, only activating my MG42 to fire at the .50 cal. Dan one ups me by rolling five 5’s and quickly ending his phase.

The MG42 FINALLY kills the .50 cal in the next turn, it had been hiding behind a stone wall for so long!

At this point Dan has not managed to cross the road. His men are concentrated around this house, with one squad inside, one advancing to take the position I had assaulted at then retreated from. That’s a .30 cal team behind the house taking shots at my squad after routing the Pak38 team. Outside of this photo is a mortar team and a Sherman right down the road on the left. It’s not looking good for the Germans, but the Americans haven’t taken the house yet. I’m down to one squad that you can barely see on the left of the photo above, one MG42 in the house and the remnants of a squad in front of my house. If I could hold them here I can win at this point.

Dan advances his Sherman down the road, FINALY having a full Chain of Command die I ambush with my Panzerschreck team. A long range shot immobilizes the tank and adds two pins! Dan pours fire into my last full squad for a second round as causes them to break, abandoning their position. I begin to run my leader over to try and remove the shock.

As I activate next to follow up Dan does the same to me, killing the Panzerschreck team before it gets off it’s shot. And of course I fail to get a photo of the tank at any point in the game! It’s a Sherman, you’ve seen tons of them.

At this point we call the game. It’s after 10 and I have one squad reduced to an LMG team, one squad breaking, whats left of the first squad I deployed never going to recover from it’s broken status and an MG42. Dan has a full chain of command die and I have a force morale of 5. Dan can easily use his CoC die to end the turn and remove the two broken squads. He has an immobilized tank that has a line of sight to the objective building with the MG42 in it and two full squads along with two senior leaders on this board. We forgo the 30 minutes of Americans mopping up at their leisure and call it an American win.

This is our fifth game of the year so far. We’ve both started using our nations abilities to good effect. Dan was using Marching Fire to pin down one squad while hoping between stone walls, I used Hangranaten to effectively wipe out a squad that was causing me problems. Dan’s gets his money’s worth out of the .50 cal, reducing my cover along with the mortar he took for the same reason. I’ve been using my leaders to have squads go tactical, and now I need to start using covering fire and overwatch more often. I think the Germans are hampered from not being able to take another squad in this campaign. They can take a squad of green conscripts once in the whole campaign, and I’m not convinced it would be worth it. I would have loved to have a fourth infantry squad, it would have allowed me to be much more flexible in my coverage of the approach to the house. All in all it was a great game.

 

 

D-Day in July!

We ran a large Bolt Action D-Day event at the Schenectady Wargamers Association’s monthly Gameathon this July. I tried to do it in June but work got in the way. The original plan was for six players to face off across an 18 foot long table. With the beach at one end and airborne at the other. The ground scale had to be abstracted a little bit since the Airborne certainly didn’t land only a couple hundred feet from the beaches, but not having to stick to an actual historical site allowed us to design the table and objectives for a more balanced game. We sent out some messages to the SWA and local Bolt Action groups and got a luke warm response at first. As our pre-planning turned into actual planning and sides were being drawn up several more people showed interest and we had to expand the game to 8 players and STILL turn people away. Our 18 foot table quickly turned into a 24 foot table! On of the SWA members, Ron, made the beach and cliffs, propping up one of the tables to make the cliff’s 3D and I frantically tried to build enough terrain to fill the added table.

My panoramic photo ran out before I hit the beach! Here are photos of the individual tables

The beach! Shawn’s Big Red One stormed the beach here, meeting fierce resistance from the German garrison.

The Artillery table! This was table #2, veteran German defenders played by Dave against my own veteran Airborne troops.

 

Murph’s Glider troops taking the crossroads in the face of a German counterattack by Bill on table #3

Table #4, Peter lands his glider troops and tries to hold of an overwhelming counterattack by Ron’s Panzer Grenadiers. Ron made the beach and cliff’s, then plays as far from then as possible!

 

A whole bunch of fog of war occurred during and after setup. We accidentally laid out the game mats differently than in the planning and the last table wound up being 4 feet long, and the first table 8 feet long. This had the effect of isolating the beach attack from any reinforcements (historical, but didn’t play into our plans of a balanced game), and giving the glider troops on table #4 no room to maneuver and an immediate engagement with the larger Panzer Grenadier counter-attack.

In addition Charles, the German beach garrison commander deployed ALL of his troops in the trenches, instead of half as we had planned. This wound up having a huge impact on the game as the numerically superior Big Red One was stuck on the beaches for the whole game.

 

With four tables and me playing on one of them it was impossible for me to keep a blow by blow record of the game. The beach and table #2 were attack/defend scenarios. Table #3 and #4 were meeting engagements with both sides trying to secure crossroads to deny them to the enemy and ensure that their forces could use them for rapid reinforcements. Shawn’s objective on table 1 was to break thru the defenders and off of the beach with his American infantry, the Germans simply had to stop this. My objective on Table 2 was to take two of three objectives, artillery emplacements with Nebelwerfers, 88’s and flak guns. Table #3 would be a fight over the crossroads between Murph’s Glider troops who were armed with 2 light AT guns and Bills Germans with a Sdkfz 222 and troops. Table #3 pitted Peter’s glider troops against Rons Panzer grenadiers. Ron brought a Panzer 4, a Puma and a Hetzer while Peter had one light At gun and bazookas, a bad deployment on my part unfortunately. The idea was that Murph would deploy his guns in a way as to cover the two boards he was in between, war doesn’t always go according to plan.

The Army Air Corp provided a preliminary bombardment on tables one and two and a few late releases cratered the roads leading across the boards. Repeating history the beach was only lightly hit, but table #2 suffered some irrecoverable damage even before the game started. Dave had deployed one full Vet squad, a sniper and a veteran Panzer 4 to the table. The prep bombardment hit all three! Two pins to the vet squad, killed the sniper’s buddy and nailed the Panzer 4, blowing it up before it could even get a shot off. Veteran Panzer 4’s aren’t cheap!

The game progressed from there. On my table I moved squads up to the mid point behind the hedges, positioning myself to take the house in the center and spread out to two objectives from there.

Dave moved a veteran squad into the house and started hammering me on my advance. A failed close quarters charge wiped out my unit by the started of turn 3.

 

Shawn’s Big Red One stormed the beaches under the cover of their landing crafts guns, disgorging troops and a Sherman.

We abstracted the rules a little bit so Shawn didn’t have to buy landing craft that and risk blowing up his only way onto the board. Shawn Advanced non-stop, taking full advantage of the American rules and progressed up the beach under withering fire.

 

Murph and Bill on table #3 duked it out all day, trading blow for blow.

Murph’s AT guns never seemed to be in the right place at the right time, failing to get a good shot on any vehicles if I recall correctly.

 

Table 4 saw some quick gains by the American glider troops which slowly wilted under the firepower of the grenadiers. Ron had 1250 points of Germans against Peter’s 1000, to mirror the beach’s 1250 points of American storming the cliffs. A lack of support from table #3 and aggressive moves from Ron’s bloodthirsty grenadiers prevented Peter from taking the objective. A good arty strike by the Americans stalled the counterattack for a turn or two, and Peter almost took the house that was the objective but he just wasn’t able to pull out the win in the end.

On my table Dave ran in some mid-game reinforcements and turned them on Murph on table 3. After failing to stop my advances he saw a juicy target, a squad of veteran glider troops with a clear line of sight.

Murph had been trying to gun down one of Bill’s squads on the border of our table and Dave ‘snap to action’ed two squads to try and get the pressure off of Bill. Unfortunately it’s pretty hard to kill Vets and Dave eventually turned their fire onto one of my squads and wipped it out after a couple of turns of fire. 

The tables turned later on as Murph brought some sweet sweet justice and paid him back

My table (#2) was pretty much locked down for an American win as I steadily advanced towards two objectives.

Some token resistance from Dave stopped me from taking all three and sending any meaningful support to the beach, but couldn’t really stop me from winning.

 

Table #4 was all but a route for the Americans. Peter had gotten a squad almost into the objective house. Unfortunately close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. If we progressed into turn 7 he could have taken it and quickly lost it to the near by Germans.

The beach and table #3 were the deciding factor on the overall outcome. Shawn was steadily marching up the cliff and had managed to get a squad into the trenches, knocking out the Pak40 and was poised to engage a squad nearby. Unfortunately Charles still had several squads in the trenches and a Panzer 3 roaming around. We all came to the consensus that it was a draw at the end of turn 6. Shawn had a squad and several weapons teams either in or right at the trenches, but it was obvious that a turn 7 could easily go either way.

Table #3 looked like it could go either way. The crossroads was littered with burning vehicles and bodies.

 

The last few activation’s of turn 6 could re-write history! Bill ran his command squad up and took the crossroads. Murph ran a command squad and a bazooka team in, gunning down the Germans and winning the crossroads and the game! This was another slight case of fog of war. At some point BOTH players had heard that you needed to be within 6 inches to control or contest it, but it was the standard 3 inches. The Germans had a squad that was activated right out of 3 inches, which allowed the Americans to take it.

We were right up at the 4pm time limit, with only an hour break for anyone wanting to play in the evening event slot so we decided to call the game at the end of turn 6. Turn 7 could have changed the outcome for sure. Ron would surge up from Table 4 to add long range support for Bill with his tanks and I was powerless to stop it. I had a pack howitzer and a bazooka team ready to hit the beach garrison from the rear and take some pressure off of Shawn’s advancing infantry but I’m not confident it would have been enough. As it was we had a fun game and were ready to pack up and go home.

We’re planning on making this a yearly event and I learned some lessons.

Setup: I had taken pictures and divided all of the terrain up into bins by table. This greatly sped up putting it together and we were ready almost half an hour before I expected to be. I spent a lot of time with the entire board laid out in my basement making sure there were no 12 foot lines of fire across multiple boards and the photos helped ensure it stayed that way. I think next time that I’m going to actually grid it out though since a couple of objectives were a little out of place and were either too hard or too easy to reach (I was very close to holding two objectives on my deployment).

Written rules: I should have had a written copy of the rules including deployment, objectives, terrain rules and the custom rules for several things. This would have eliminated almost all of the fog of war issues we had and would have cut down on the time I spent answering questions that only I knew the official answers to.

Forces: Ron’s three tank grenadier force was unexpected and pretty much ensured that Peter could not win the board. I gave some loose guidelines but I think next year I am going to make up the forces and then tweak them to fit with the troops the players actually own.

Force sizes: The beach landing force had 1250 points and so did the counterattacking grenadiers. I envisioned that the entrenched Germans would be more of a roadblock with half of their forces still in reserves. Even with Charles deploying all 1000 points into the fortifications the Americans still made it up the cliffs and almost broke through onto the main land. I think I can safely reduce the American landing force to 1100 if I make the garrison force split on deployment and reserves. The German counterattack on board 4 would similarly be reduced, giving that American player a fighting chance.

It was a great game and now I need to finish painting all the things that were half done due to the addition of a fourth table. I should be done just in time for our January game, four tables set up in a semicircle to defend Bastogne from the Germans!