Frontal Assault at SWA’s Game-A-Thon

We’re wrapping up the NY/NJ Bolt Action Escalation League with our 1250 point round. Time to break out all the cool toys! The league is my first experience with playing regularly with another ‘meta’, I’ve played for several years at ToyWiz and we’ve pretty much settled down on plain vanilla ‘meta’ of paying lip service to historically accurate lists and not swinging to any extremes. With the change to the Down order it has become viable to take multiple Veteran squads and go Down when getting shot. Now this isn’t all that cheesy, but it does bog the game down and frankly it’s not a style I enjoy playing or playing against. Too many of the scenarios in the base Bolt Action system require you to move across the board, something you can’t do if you’re always going Down. None of the lists I’ve faced from the upstate guys have been overly cheesy (or cheesy at all for the most part) and are at least as historical as what I’m used to. I’m just not used to vet squads going down non-stop and not dying to overwhelming firepower, I’ve struggled to find a way to deal with them like I’ve normally dealt with opponents. Until this game that is…

 

We met at Proctors Theater for the Schenectady Wargaming Association’s monthly Game-A-Thon once again. We had a modest showing of six people, several of our regulars had to work and one was off doing Boy Scout activities. I faced off against Zach and his early war veteran French colonials. He had a three veteran squads in armored cars, two medium howitzers, an AT gun and a Char B(?) facing off against my three late war German regular squads, two medium mortars, medium howitzer, Wespe, Wirblewind, a veteran engineer squad and a truck for some mobility. I’ve wanted to keep the Panzer Grenadier theme going for my list but I had to dial it back a bit to fit on the mortars and the howitzer, which were key to my tactics. Before I’ve used two trucks and one or more Stummels which can (probably do to a type on the rule book) hold 8 men in addition to the light howitzer it carries.

I liked Zach’s list, its the French version of the list I’d like to play, if I thought I could make it work against the ‘downed vets’ tactic. It’s historical, has no cheese in it and he played it well I think.

Click on photos for larger versions

The battle was being fought around a farm, three objective markers were placed on my half of the table and Zach had to come get them. The difference between this scenario and Point Defense is that in order to win you need to have more objectives than your opponent, not two out of the three. Obviously I wanted to hold all three objectives but my fallback strategy was to hold the rear most objective and contest the other two, eeking out a victory on technical grounds. We lined up across the deployment zone, which actually stretched diagonal across the board from corner to corner. Zach put out his howitzers and a squad and held his armored cars in reserve, pushing his Char B up as far as possible. I had a squad in the grey roofed horse stall, a mortar behind it and my Wespe, Wirblewind and howitzer in position to hopefully take out the Char first turn! I quickly realized that the Wirblewind could do nothing to the Char B, and took a pot shot at the Char early turn one, nailing it but failing to do any real damage aside from jamming the turret. Zack’s howitzers tried ranging in on my howitzer and Wespe, but failed along with my own howitzer and mortar to find their targets. I learned the hard way that spotters are now considered to be always down unless they are given another order, one of the subtle changes that I had failed to notice. Zach’s howitzers were hidden safely behind several pieces of line of sight blocking terrain and the only way to deal with them would be to murder their spotters with overwhelming amounts of lead. Unfortunately this would only happen turns later as I had to go to extremes to get it done do to the added -2 from the assumed Down order.Turn two started with a great hit on my Wespe buy Zach’s howitzer which failed to kill it but immobilized it and added four pins to it, ensuring it’s death on turn 3. My truck full of panzerfaust wielding grenadier’s failed to come on the table, allowing his Char B to fire on a couple of my units and spread some pins around. Zach failed a roll to bring on an APC full of veterans so I guess it evened out. Reinforcements were brought onto the table by both sides. My flamethower wielding engineers ran from the board directly into a building. The fact that they didn’t hang around in plain sight would cause an upset later in the game. Things weren’t looking good for me on turn two. My Wespe was obviously going to die. I had spent the first two turns trying to take out Zach’s spotters, especially after one had ranged in on the Wespe. But first fulls of dice from the Wirblewind, multiple rounds from mortars and the howitzer all failed to find their mark and the spotter lived!

Turn three started off with Zach nailing my Wespe, as expected and taking out a LT in the process. My Howitzer had to move to not only get a better line of sight but to shake the second howitzer’s ranging in. Three turns and my howitzer had done nothing! Zach’s other howitzer scored a hit on the Wirblewind, taking it out before it could do anything effective. It would only play a roll as providing cover for my troops behind it. Zachs’s troops were moving up into position by this point, coming up to the red barn trying to take one objective and position themselves to assault the grey horse barn.

This would become deadly ground of the french colonials, as several squads and APCs would be finished off here by three of my squads. An APC moved up on turn two, unable to dismount it’s troops due to running. On turn three they were joined by a second squad that ran into the barn itself hoping to fire into the horse stall next turn. Somehow Zach had missed that the veteran squad I had in there carried a flamethrower. I was talking to a buddy about the force before the game and I though Zach knew. The next activation they opened up. The flamethrower killed three men and added four pins to the squad. The rest of the guns failed to do anything and the colonials managed to not route off of the table. The dice started rolling in my favor on turn three though. My mortars were ranging in and getting lucky 6’s. This trend of high explosive death would continue all the way through turn 7. My howitzer spun around and nailed a squad hiding in the building. The recent changes to HE meant that it was easier for me to hit the building than a squad. Zach went down to minimize the damage and I rolled the 5 I needed, decimating the squad, killing 4 out of the 7 and dealing 3 pins to it. except I actually needed a 6 to hit. I followed that up with a mortar hit that killed 2 guys and added a single pin. A consolation prize at least. My truck full of panzer grenadiers came onto the board and almost made it into range to kill the Char B, but at least they poured fire into the spotter and missed! The tide was turning!Turn four was where my tactics started to shine, with a heaping load of luck. Zach advanced his Char B into range to shoot my men and the truck they came on on, missing all of the rolls needed to hit and damage. They returned fire nailing it with the panzerfausts he had forgotten they had, dealing massive damage with one and blowing the tank up. They also murdered the spotter directly in front of them. Standing still had taken the to hit roll down from 6+6 to straight 6’s and plenty of German rounds found their mark. A Squad of men advanced up and nailed an APC with panzerfausts. They needed 6’s to hit, movement and a pin from Zach’s sniper. Two sixes! Blown up APC. The veteran squad inside comes out and goes down. The flame-throwed squad of Zach’s failed it’s activation check with boxcars! no FUBAR for me, but they fled away along with jokes of toasted baguettes. The turn ended with the tide turned in my favor.

Turn five saw Zach’s sniper finally move into a position to fire again, after a couple of turns of firing on the only squad they could see Zach blocked their line of sight with various APCs and squads. The last fresh squad of veteran colonials advanced out and killed the now panzerfaust-less to a man, they simply couldn’t withstand the withering point blank fire. Zach had maneuvered up this squad and we both had thought was relatively safe. But my recently re-positioned howitzer was able to take a long shot, through two buildings and rolled a 5, hitting them with the 3 inch template. I can’t remember if they were all killed or failed the morale test after 50% casualties but they disappeared. The engineer squad advanced out and flamed the APC which moved them up and it failed the morale test after the attack, routing it. Some re-positioning on both of our parts moved units into line of sight, setting up some killing for the turn six. The last activation of the turn was one of my medium mortars. I had only one shot, drawing line of sight from a spotter to what was left of a colonial squad. I couldn’t re-position to a better spot so I just tossed my die, which landed on at least the third first shot 6 for my mortars. The squad was bunched up and the 2 inch template hit all four, killing them all. Eliminating the last of the French infantry squads and securing two of the three objectives for me. It also left an empty APC with no friendly troops close.Turn six and seven left only mopping up. A sniper was hiding on a corner of a building, an LT was close enough to contest an objective that I still needed to take and Zach still had two howitzers and an AT gun left that were slowly re-positioning. My engineers murdered the sniper with hot fire and continued the steak of not running out of fuel, six games so far! although plenty flame throwers have died to snipers, close assaults, mass fire and other calamities. In an effort to win with all three objectives I advanced out of buildings to kill the LT on the objective. I loaded a squad into my truck and chanced the run past an AT gun on ambush, and lost! Truck blown up with surprisingly little damage on the squad inside. They jumped out in perfect position to assault, but it was turn 7 so they would never get the chance.

 

 

My strategy going in was to exploit the Down order in my favor. Several times over the course of the game after Zach went down in response to fire or HE I responded by firing a mortar at him. Indirect HE is not modified by cover or range, it starts at a 6 to hit and gets better as long as the firing unit AND the target don’t move. My first activation for the next round would be the same mortar, hitting several times (often times rolling a six, adding insult to injury). Several times my mortars hit first turn, once on an APC. In addition the HE has a penetration modifier, reducing the target number to wound from 5 to 3 or even 2. I honestly can’t recall my small arms doing more than one casualty per activation, if any. 95% of the casualties I caused were due to one heavy weapon or another. In addition the first time Zach ran a squad into a building I hit it with HE, not only ignoring the cover bonus but also the extra protection that buildings give to infantry. I got lucky with 3 first turn hits from mortars, but odds were on my side with two medium mortars and two medium howitzers. Once a unit went down I would have at least one chance on a 6 and another on a 5 in the following turn, more if both mortars could fire. The medium mortars and the flame thrower were punching far above their weights, killing several times their points costs and making no part of the board safe except complete line of sight blocking cover, which was hard with spotters. Zach’s careful movement into cover and down orders were hugely successful against my small arms, but offered no protection to steel rain and gouts of flame! My vehicles were taken out before they could do much in the game but my real AT solution worked, panzerfausts in every squad. The flame thrower even scored a vehicle kill!

This was a great game, at least for me. I’ve been practicing with some version of this list for the entire league and it finally came together successfully. Zach played well, but my poor luck in the first half of the game turned around and what seemed like hundreds of sixes were thrown in rapid succession.

Bolt Action: Key Positions.

I met up with Paul to get a game in for the Bolt Action escalation league. Paul set up the table and then we chose to play the Key Positions scenario since it was one of the monthly missions. Since it was one of the special required missions there were a couple of changes to it for the league. There were extra objectives, Three of them had to be placed near the center line and an infantry unit could chose to blow an objective up if it ended the turn on it. These changes ensured that there would be fighting, since several of them HAD to be in the center, and you couldn’t leave them undefended in case your opponent rushed up and destroyed one you were counting on claiming at the end of the game.

The objectives were mostly clustered around the patch of forest and the ruined buildings on the left side of the board, with only three of the ten objectives following the road up the right side.

The first two turns were fairly uneventful as we deployed onto the table and traded a couple of shots across the battlefield. We both had two units flanking, Paul had a flame thrower team in a kubelwagon and I had an pioneer team in a truck.

The exception was my Puma coming out late turn one and getting a great hit on Paul’s Hanomag with a squad in it that was poised to take an objective at the end of the turn. I rolled a six to hit and a one to damage! Despite that being enough to damage the Hanomag, one’s don’t do damage! I put a single pin on the Hanomag and the squad inside. Paul’s howitzer armed Panzer III came out and missed a shot! That single pin would wind up being very important on his green volksturm squad. We both realized that they couldn’t exit the halftrack because it had run to get up there.

The turn starts with the the Panzer III moving into cover and nailing the Puma with a shell, failing to damage with its +2 pen vs my Puma’s 8 armor, but putting 2 pins on it. The Puma strikes back, rolling the 5 it needed to hit, a six on the damage resulting in massive damage and another 6 on one of the dice, brewing it up! Paul’s Hanomag had parked itself ontop of an objective, allowing him to blow it up at the end of the turn. His green troops inside had failed 3 activation rolls due to the single pin, but were still able to destroy the objective while inside the transport. Paul had also moved another squad up to sit on an objective near his deployment zone. My troops in the center of the table were ready to spread out and take these two objectives since I didn’t think I could take three of the objectives on Paul’s half of the table, so I needed to stop him from blowing these up. Late turn 3 I rushed my flanking truck onto the table, firing it’s machine gun point blank into the volsktrum squad sitting on the objective in the rear. I inflicted 5 casualties but he still left the man on the objective. Paul rolled a 1 for the result of his Green ability, adding FOUR pins to the squad. I immediately fired my sniper, adding another and killing the man on the objective and leaving the squad with a single man with a panzerfaust. Paul’s green squad in the Hanomag was finally able to make it out, just not the way he wanted. The truck had a pioneer squad in it that jumped out and lit the halftrack on fire, blowing it up and forcing the squad out and down, surrounded by enemy machine gun, they didn’t last long. The lone survivor of the squad in the rear got it’s revenge, fire off it’s panzerfaust through the pioneer squad and blowing the truck up.

Meanwhile in the center of the board.

By turn 4 I had advanced two squads and a truck up to a couple ruined houses, facing off against Paul’s one squad and a Puma. The Puma had missed a couple shots into my truck, which was sticking close to the infantry so it didn’t rout. Shots were traded back and forth, mortars and artillery missed. Turn 4 opened with an advance into partial cover and a point blank shot into the front of the Puma with two panzerfausts. Succes brewed it up. That was quickly followed up by a howitzer hitting with it’s indirect shot nailing five men in ruined building right behind the smoking Puma. The left flank had collapsed and the center was following.

(that building HAD a full squad in it a second ago…)

Paul’s latch ditch effort to kill my Puma was to rush the Hanomag up to point blank range and hop his flamethrower out to take care of it. Unfortunately after his Hanomag flanked up I drew a die before he could get his team out of it and destroyed the car with a shot from the Puma’s AT gun. The team was forced out, took FIVE hits and was destroyed. I was surprised that I could roll more hits than the team had but I couldn’t find anything that said it was limited. This only left a couple of Paul’s units on the board. His command team, a sniper, one squad that had taken a couple of hits and a MG42 team that had so far not fired a shot.

Turns 5 and 6 saw me mopping up what was left, one squad got back into the truck to rush forward and kill his command team, my LT gunned down the sniper with STG44 fire, the mortar team rushed forward to capture an objective as I moved guys around to try and take as many as I could.

The game was a victory on my part, holding 7 of the 10 objectives on the board. Paul played well, but my dice were on fire and he failed to damage at a couple of key points. His Puma was never able to get into position to get a shot on mine without giving me point blank shots at his rear with panzerfausts. His Panzer III was taken out before it could get shots on any of my infantry and his panzerfaust armed troops were stuck in the Hanomag with a single pin keeping them from activating. My howizter only hit once, but I was able to follow it up with a successful attack that caused a failed morale check.

I’ve tried to keep this list mobile as the league goes on, wanting to play a panzer grenadier list. Most of the time I’m able to get a squad into position with a well timed transport activation and support it with the trucks guns for a turn or two before it gets nuked. This game I was able to use my trucks very effectively, deploying the pioneers just when I needed them and redeploying a squad to secure the backfield late in the game. This is probably the best use of the not normally long lived trucks I will ever have. For the 54 points they cost I’m usually very happy with the one round of mobility and usually two rounds of machine gun fire they give me.

I had expected the road to play more of a role, but after the objective placement and unit deployment early in turn 1 I had decided that my focus was on my left flank, using the hill to hide my Puma until it had secured that side. My plan was to use the blown up truck as cover and advance on Paul’s Puma, or hit it with panzerfausts if it moved on me first. Three squads with two panzerfausts each and the flamethrower in the pioneer squad were my backup plan.

29, Lets Go! Scenario 2. Delaying Action at Arthenay.

Dan and I continued the 29, Lets Go! campaign with scenario 2, a delaying action at Arthenay. Our first game was a 4 player version of the Probe into La Cambe. Both Dan and Matt wrote up nice AARs of it on their blogs.

http://laststandatcairngorm.blogspot.com/2017/03/la-cambe-chain-of-command.html

http://saltflats1929again.blogspot.com/2017/03/chain-of-command-29-lets-go-scenario-1.html

 

I was an American player in the first scenario and my flank bogged down as two squads got caught out in the open after trying to exploit a double activation. I hopped over a hedge after rolling two sixes, counting on rushing forward and laying down some close range fire on the second activation. Unfortunately the next toss of the dice didn’t allow me to do anything with those squads. They got caught in the open and torn up over the course of a couple of German activations. The two Shermans that charged up the road to reinforce them got ambushed by a panzerschreck team and an off board 88 laying in ambush. It was getting late and we had to call the game. The Americans started with 11 force moral and I believe we were down to 6 at about 10:30 with my platoon pretty much combat in-effective and the two Shermans knocked out we all felt it was just a matter of mopping up the remaining units and we called it as a German victory. The Americans withdrew and called in artillery and leveled the farm (we didn’t feel like replaying the scenario).

 

Dan and I met to play the second scenario. Dan brought his Americans and I fielded the German side this time. Setting up the table as it is pictured in the campaign book leaves a lot of open field for the Americans to charge across. I was looking forward to the MG42 getting a work out. We played out the Patrol Phase and decided that the fields counted as light cover, so a jump off point could be deployed there. I put a jump off point in an orchard, a small walled section and I had to place one farther back next to a house becuase of the rules for the scenario. Dan had one in the field, one in an orchard at the edge of his table and one behind a long row of hedges. I was able to lock his patrol markers down and force him to put the jump off point almost at the edge of the table. This was my plan since I had two barbed wire sections to put down on the side of the hedge near the road, stopping him from hammering away at the MG42 in the walled in section at close range. It paid off since the machine gun team pretty much held that side of the table. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

 

Dan got a double activation right off the bat. This allowed him to deploy almost his entire platoon onto the table. Unfortunately they had nothing to shoot at! He held back his Sherman and forgot about a second .30 cal team for the rest of the game. Dan’s mortar team fired often but never caused a casualty. I guess it evens out my sniper being all but useless, causing a single casualty.

 

I had a good activation and deployed the machine gun team and one squad into the orchard. This squad would wind up holding off the Americans on that side of the board all game with fantastic rolls, 6-8 hits per phase stacking the shock and casualties. Lots of letters home to mom because of the MG42 there.

Dan had deployed a squad on the hedges which exchanged fire with my MG42 team behind the stone wall. The hard cover was working to my advantage and he decided he needed to rush the wall and kill my men. On a double activation he hopped the wall and moved forward, firing at close range. I had been luck all night with my casualty rolls but they were catching up with me. Four shock and a casualty racked up and the team was in danger of being pinned.

On my activation I deployed my senior leader to support the machine gun and a squad into the house to reinforce the flank. The senior leader removed some shock and ordered them to return fire. Despite the Americans being in the open I didn’t inflict enough casualties.

I decided to use a CoC die to end the turn, giving me the next activation. The senior leader removed the last of the shock and ordered the team to open up again on the American squad in the open. My reinforcing squad was in place and opened up on them too. The angles meant that only the MG42 team could get line of sight on them but 10 dice isn’t all that bad and then added to the GI’s bad day. Dan took the next opportunity to jump the squad back over the hedge just after they lost their junior leader.

The Americans in the wheat field were not having any better luck. They had stalled once they entered the fields and were trying to trade fire with the German squad in the orchard. Odds were on the Americans side since they had a squad backed up by a .30 cal team but the dice gods were not on Dan’s side. The German Orchard squad were crack shots. 10-15 dice per turn were resulting in 5-8 hits regularly. Dan was having some luck on the casualty results but it just kept adding up.

His return fire wasn’t as effective, either not enough hits or good results on the casualty rolls. I lost a couple men but the shock wasn’t coming quick enough. Repeated activation with the junior leader were keeping them in check. By the time the Sherman was deployed in support Dan had both his Senior leaders supporting that flank. The American infantry squad was whittled down to just one BAR and a couple rifles and the .30 cal was taking hits (although not many pins). It was all he could to do keep the shock down. He did manage to rally them back from a break though, losing the broken team that had failed to assault the stone wall on the other flank in the process. The Sherman and some covering fire from the squad held back in reserve quickly forced the orchard squad into pinned and to broken status, forcing my senior leader to dash across the road and halt their retreat. It didn’t matter, the hedge side of the board had collapsed and the Germans were pushing the counter attack.

After the Americans had jumped back over the hedge to take cover they quickly were pinned and then broken.

As they fled the Germans hopped up and charged the jump off point. Dan had been fairly lucky on his morale rolls, bringing him down a lot slower than I would have liked so I wanted to get the JOP from him. Plus, I have never taken a jump off point before so I wanted to have the glory! I had been holding a squad in reserve, not needing it yet and hadn’t decided where to deploy it. I quickly deployed it and charged it forward. The squad in the house had to run forward, adding shock as they went. Just as the reached the hedge the Sherman came on board and as it crept up it peppered the bushes with machine gun fire, threatening to halt me before I reached the JOP.

As the Sherman crept up again for a better shot my Marder’s that were laying in ambush opened up, brewing the tank up and ending the game. I had captured the JOP and destroyed the tank on in the same turn, dropping the force morale to 0 and forcing the retreat.

This had been the first game I’ve actually played to completion. Dan had been rolling ok with the morale loss and only lost 2 points once so it was a real challenge to knock him down I think. One more shock on my MG42 and the charge up to the wall would have succeeded I think. I had three full chain of command dice at that point (having started with two from the scenario) and I was forced to use one to get my senior leader to remove the shock and return fire with the machine gun. He was in a really exposed position and I was afraid that Dan would deploy his senior leader on that flank, rally the section and close in. The machine gun was already down to a 4 man team with two shock and without another activation he could have broken the team. I had a full squad right there and would have immediately engaged him, but that machine gun was essential in holding both flanks.

Hindsight is 20/20, I think if Dan had deployed his third squad to the hedges instead of behind the wheat field it would have made a huge difference. I certainly wouldn’t have taken the jump off point. Dan also forgot about one of his .30 cal teams and his mortar was pretty useless. if he had taken two .50 cal teams (they reduce cover) he would have taken the orchard. All of the hedges were only light cover, hammering at the squad there with a .50 cal would have resulted in far more shock and, more importantly casualties and he would have advanced through the fields, forcing me to defend from the house. I need to find my .50 cal teams and paint them up!

The Germans have pretty limited support options in this campaign unfortunately. They have no vehicles and no mortars, they can take an infantry gun once, and a Pak38 once. They can take a Pak40 for seven points, a MG42 or a forward observer for four, a sniper team for three points and after this second scenario they can take a squad of green conscript troops but will suffer a penalty to their morale rolls at the beginning of the scenario if they do. The rest of the options are roadblocks, barbed wire, entrenchments, mine fields, medical orderly and an adjutant. Pretty limited combat options. I had meant to bring my Pak40, but forgot. I’m glad I did since the MG42 was essential!

The Americans can take (and sometimes HAVE to take) Shermans, both .50 and .30 machine guns, mortars (I’ve never had much luck but they also drop cover by one level when they hit), flame throwers, engineer teams, extra bazookas (to hit what?) and have the option of doubling up on BARs. Obviously the Americans are on the offense and brought everything possible over for the invasion, but it certainly looks pretty lopsided. This is the third game of CoC I’ve played this year and I’m starting to get the hang of it!

Another week’s worth of work.

I finished up another group of minis and vehicles this past week. Click on the images for larger pictures.

First up is a pair of SDKFZ 251’s and a Stug III for my friend. The Hanomag’s are Warlord’s new 251/10’s that came with the Band of Brothers boxed set. I magnetized the Pak36, I still need to magnetize and paint the MG42’s, so I guess it’s not completely finished. The Stug III is a Rubicon model, with the barrel magnetized so it can be used as a Stug or a Stuh. Again I have to finish the other barrel. Three more Rubicon Stug’s are being built so both me and Murph can have two each. Murph wanted a simple Dunkelgelb paint job and some decals, so a simple wash and highlight was all it needed after that. We’re not trying to model any specific unit, and after an hour or so of internet research it seemed that by the late war they were putting markings where ever they wanted, when they even bothered. So I just kinda put things where they looked logical. I had assembled them before thinking about decals,  so I think next time I will move the stowage a little bit so I can put numbers on the sides. I have plenty more 251’s and 250’s on the way!

I finished two West Wind Kubelwagons. They were painted and waiting on decals so I could wash and highlight them. Once the above vehicles were done I slapped decals on them and finished them up! They’re nice little models, but they’re all metal so you could hurt someone by dropping them! I’m using these in Bolt Action so one has an MG42 and the other has an officer as a passenger. I’m planning on finishing two more for me and another two for Murph later.

Next up were some more 251’s and a Puma that I had finished painting and never put decals on. I went a little heavy with the wash, they were the first vehicles I had painted, but I think it just make them look a little dingy and road-weary. I have some German Pioneers for the engineer half track waiting to be painted up!

Group Shot!

The figures I got done were mostly artillery and mortar crew. Murph got a pair of medium mortars from Black Tree Designs on a recent sale and I managed to paint up a bunch of the crew, but somehow forgot to paint up the second mortar itself. They’re nice little sculpts and fit in well with Warlord’s for significantly cheaper.

I picked up a pack of West Wind’s Pak40 crew to supplement my Warlord weapons when I’m playing Chain of Command. CoC has most weapons with their historic crew complement, while Bolt Action uses a standard number across the nations for the class they fit the weapon into. Most of the crew in the pack are specifically Pak40 crew, but enough of them are generic that they could be crew for anything.

After that was a mix of weapon crew for several warlord weapons. Some Nebelwerfer, some mortar and some generic enough to be anything.

I also started some motorcycle and side car figures. I can’t paint the ‘inside’ of them when they’re assembled so I did the motorcycles first, leaving room for the side cars. These are more West Wind figures I got from Old Glory here in the US. Cheep enough after the discount card and they’ll give some variety to the force. I have several more coming in from Bolt Action and Black Tree Design. Murph wants to run multiple machinegun side cars in a mobile force so he put in an order and I’ve been thinking about doing some motorcycle troops as well. Between me and Murph I have seven machine gun side car combos, four motor cycle side car combos, six motorcycles with pylon passengers and six motorcycles with just the driver. So, you know, a platoon’s worth of troops on motorcycles. We’ve joked about just running a motorcycle gang for a game.

 

I also painted two Bolt Action troops with STG44’s that didn’t get photographed separately. They were sitting around on my painting desk with just a base coat of Field Grau, so they got tossed in with the rest of this batch.

Another group photo!

 

Next up on the painting desk are 15 US Army casualties and 6 German grenadiers. I’m looking to spice up my game photos and taking pictures of tipped over figures isn’t cutting it anymore!

 

No longer gathering dust!

I’ve had a pile of minis in various stages of painting on my desk for the better part of a year. I started a LRDG/Desert Rats force for my friend Murph in 2015 and made some serious progress on it. He changed directions with it and some of the men got put aside as I assembled and finished more Thompson armed troops. Late in 2016 we both switched over to making late war German grenadier armies and these troops got pushed further back into the shadows of the painting table. Time came to finish these guys up and get them off to Murph.

First up were the Desert Rats and SAS. These were all base coated and only needed to be washed and high lighted. 7 riflemen, one officer and a radioman from the Desert Rats are ready to go along with two SMGs and a Bren gun for the SAS.

Next were two sets of Black Tree Design American .30 cal gunners I also posted earlier. Washed, highlighted and sealed they’re now ready for action!

Rounding out the group are a couple of stragglers. A German medic that was waiting for decals and the officer from a pack of Warlord Gurkhas. I’m not a huge fan of doing decals, despite how much I like the look afterwords. So I was waiting on doing some vehicles so I could just sit down for a couple hours and do a bunch at once. This past week I got the decals done (pics from the vehicles later) and this guy is finally off the desk!

It may seem like a lot, especially after my last post earlier this week, but these guys were about 90% done, just sitting there. It was nice to be able to get these off the desk without doing a whole lot of work.

Group shot!

So that’s 20 or so guys off the desk! I have a whole bunch of German Pak40 crew and mortar teams on there now and the remainder of these Desert Rats that were only primed. I’m hoping by the end of next week I can have them all base coated and ready for a wash.

 

This week’s progress!

With the new year I’ve been making a lot of progress on painting and assembling minis. I had started 14 minis last week for my friend Murph’s late war grenadiers and just finished them today. I also found 7 that I had finished but not sealed or added washers to and finished them up last night. I like the mixed nature of the late war German army and with the first batch of minis I made for him I had mixed up the gear a lot. I added pouches and packs from Russian and American sets and gave them Russian SMGs and painted them grey. This batch that I’ve started on I switched up the uniform color to a more green Field Grau, to emphasize the supply problems and mix of uniforms. The grenadier set already does a good job with the weapons, including a good mix of kar98’s, gewehr 43’s, MP40’s and PPSH submachineguns.

First off are 2 Panzerschreck teams from Black Tree Design.

Next up are two panzerfaust armed troops. One of them is running with an armload of panzerfausts. The instruction sheet that came with the box had a fellow made up similarly and I loved the idea. I have quite a few panzerfausts laying around since the sprues come with one loose one and one in the firing position, plus some leftovers I have already. Not enough to make a boatload of guys like this but enough to make one or two. I have a guy waiting to be primed that has a panzerfaust in one hand and a teller mine in another. I think it adds a little character to the squad.

Four more riflemen, you always need more riflemen.

One trooper with a STG44 assault rifle. The assault rifles are a little worse in Bolt Action v2 than in v1 so we don’t need as many.

3 men with MP40’s, two with caps to signify that they’re NCOs. Also, they’re pointing, NCOs always point…

And a group photo!

 

The figures I found:

Five riflemen, this brings the total up to 18 riflemen. Probably enough for awhile.

An officer with a map and field glasses, and a lone machinegunner.

I also mistaken discovered the best matte spray I’ve found yet! I use my airbrush to seal my minis and I grabbed what I THOUGHT was the matte varnish but would up being the matte medium fluid. Hot damned it cuts down ALL the shine on the minis! I went back over it with the matte varnish becuase I’m not sure how well it protects them, but I finished it off with another layer of the matte medium fluid and I’m really happy with the results.

 

I have a pile of half finished guys sitting on my desk waiting to be done for next week. About a dozen Perry desert rats and some Black Tree .30 cal US troops. I need to move my painting desk so the pile of half done things I was slowly working on in between Germans gets bumped up in priority.

 

 

Schenectady Wargamers Association Feb Bolt Action Day

The NY/NJ Bolt Action escalation league continued at the Schenectady Wargamers Association with another Bolt Action day. We set up three tables and had five players come by for a day of gaming. I’ve been trying off and on to get a Bolt Action community going in the area for a couple of years now with little success. A new game store opened in Perth (Guardian Games) and they had a fist full of players actively playing at the same time we announced the joint NY/NJ escalation league and several of them jumped at the chance to join! This combined with the 4-5 other players in the area who are interested have given us the critical mass to get this off the ground! Th league continued into month 2 with 750 point single platoon lists on 4×4 tables. Me and my friend Murph have been busy buying and making more terrain, but keeping the tables at 4×4 certainly helped us fill them up. We’re confident that we will be able to fill 4×6 tables by next month and we’re looking forward to fielding 1000 point armies full of toys to play with!

We initially put together 3 tables, with Bruce from Guardian Games bringing some of his own terrain to fill out a fourth table with a factory setup that’s going to look awesome once painted.

We had four different German forces and one American force. I unfortunately lost two games and won only one. I narrowly missed drawing one game due to figure placement. I had to be 3 inches from the objective and I was 3.5, my opponent took a very hard fought win with American and German dead scattered around the battlefield. The highlight of that game was my Nebelwerfer hitting twice, one hitting two units directly and splashing damage onto a third squad of airborne TWICE,  dealing four casualties and FIVE pins to them. That squad never recovered and was eliminated on the next round. My nebelwerfer also managed to nail a sniper team that was positioned to take the objective. Runner up to that was three rounds of a .50 cal armed jeep and a bazooka team firing away at a kubelwagon at point blank range and either missing or failing to do any real damage to it. The game ended on the 7th turn with his LT on the objective and my mortar team having run up to great cover that was half an inch away from the objective.

I was taking pictures of the other games when I could, but didn’t pay too much attention to them. The highlight of my friend Murphs game I did catch was his opponent sneaking a Puma to point blank range behind his Stuh and missing, only to have a squad with a panzerfaust take a long range shot and blow it up! The Stuh got to live and rain HE death down upon some Waffen SS dogs!

 

Some more pictures here

Airborne: The Battle of Carentan review.

I’ve only been wargaming seriously for about six years now, and have only been playing 28mm WWII for three years. Compared to a lot of people I’m like a babe lost in the woods. After a year of playing Bolt Action my desire for something more historical lead me to Chain of Command and growing interest in the battle for Carentan shortly after D-Day. The problem with Carentan seems to be that it was a relatively short battle and, although pivotal in securing Normandy and linking several forces together, it went fairly quickly and without too many problems. It seems to get glossed over and aside from some chapters in what amount to biographies of men or units there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of academic style writing on it with maps and non-anecdotal reports. This past year was rough and I was planning on picking up a couple of books I had found out about and doing some more research to make a series of linked scenarios around Carentan for Chain of Command and Bolt Action. I was just starting to think about it again and trying to figure out when to start to get ready for an October convention when I see an ad on The Miniatures Page for Britton Publisher’s Airborne: The Battle of Carentan, procrastination won out once again! After a little searching and an unkind utterance in regard to the website I plunked down my $11 and bought the PDF.

The book has 12 scenarios ranging in size from a single squad to company level engagements. A quick count shows 1 squad level scenarios, 4 platoon level scenarios, 3 company level scenarios and two scenarios each that are either platoon vs company or squad vs platoon engagements.

It starts off with several pages describing the background to the battle, the German forces involved, how they rate the troop qualities, and describes a number of important considerations such as the hedgerows, marshes, bridges and the Belgian Gates that held off and funneled the American troops as they approached Carentan. Throughout the book there are some very good contemporary military maps, aerial reconnaissance photos and modern satellite images and in a couple of places some photos of gaming table setups.

Every scenario has a paragraph or two of the setting and lead up to the scenario, a solid breakdown of the forces involved, the victory conditions and the historical outcome and aftermath. It also has GM’s notes and deployment rules where needed, and also has footnotes and citations to the books referenced in the sources section. This book is well researched and a treasure trove of information for the battle of Carentan.

This is the fourth book in their Airborne series chronicling the battles from D-Day though Carentan. They’re $11 for the PDFs or $17 for the printed versions. With 12 scenarios in each book you could spend years fighting these battles out! This is the first scenario book I’ve read that wasn’t from a games manufacturer and I’m very pleased and the variety of scale included in these scenarios, a friend of mine wants to try out Nuts! and I think the smaller scenarios would be perfect for it. I’m very happy with this book and will almost certainly pick up the rest in the series.

 

Forgot to add links to the books the first time around!

Britton Publishers Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/brittonpublishers/?fref=ts

Britton Publishers storefront

http://brittonpublishers.com/Skirmish_Scenarios.html

 

 

 

(still) cleaning off the painting desk!

This past week I’ve managed to get a bunch more stuff that has been living on the painting desk for months finished and made progress on some more. I have to move the table in a week so I’m really trying to finish a lot.

I’m also working on my friend Murph’s Panzer Grenadier army at the same time so I’ve been adding in some of those to the work flow.

First up: Germans!

I’ve had these Nebelwerfer crew half done for months now. They needed to have a wash and highlights done and then eventually basing


I also had three riflemen from Warlord’s late war German’s and a Fallschirmjager officer from Black Tree Design sitting around with just a grey base coat for at least six months. I am increasingly displeased with the rifles in this generation of Warlord’s plastics. They are thin and break WAY too easily. I actually have a pile of soldiers who’s rifles broke while I was painting them. I actually bought metal rifles from The Assault Group to start replacing the broken plastic ones and any new figures I put together will have them. They scale very well and fit into the arms almost perfectly. The newer generation of Warlord’s plastics, the ones with the weapons molded into arms, are fine. They are a little beefier and will actually bend before breaking. The German blitzkrieg, Fallschirmjager and Panzer Grenadiers and the American Airborne troops are all the newest generation.

 

My friend’s Panzer Grenadiers: An officers/spotter, two machine gunners (to make up for the two extra loaders I finished last time!) and 5 riflemen (Bolt Action doesn’t differentiate from the Kar 98 and the Gehwer 43 so I’ve made them randomly.

Next up: A small group of Americans!

I had a .30 cal machine gun that was only primed and eventually got embarrassed enough to take it out of the case and start painting it. Six months later it’s finished!

Warlord’s machine gun, loader and ammo bearer! I magnetized the base for version 1, it took me long enough to simply paint it I’m not bothering to re-base it becuase of the template rules…

I also made a number of ammo bearers from a combo of the Blitzkrieg Germans and American plastics. Bolt Action uses 3 man machinegun teams but Chain of Command has 4-5 man teams depending on the nation. I got tired of having to make a team up of 3 machine gun guys and a couple of rifle guys and decided to put these guys together so they look better when grouped up.

And two men from the Warlord observer pack. I already painted the third guy, who is kneeling with a radio up to his face. I liked how other people have been painting little maps on these types of guy and decided to give it a try. The photo is a little washed out but there are green and brown spots there and a couple of black lines for a road.

I also made some progress on some minis last week that I’m hoping to finish this week. Murph’s first army was an LRDG/8th army combo and I have had some of Perry’s plastics sitting around in various stages of completion for awhile now. These are ready for a wash and then highlight.

during one of my Black Tree Design binges I got a couple of packs of their ‘Airborne’ .30 cal teams. They’re wearing spats/gaiters so they’re clearly not Airborne, not that I’m a rivet counter. So they got put aside since I was rushing to finish some Airborne for a convention scenario I needed to get done. I’m generally pleased with Black Tree’s minis, being well worth the price even if the Fallschirmjager’s weapons are comically large. But I think theses need new molds. The detail is all soft and rounded and not up to their usual standards. I know that they have taken minis off of the store to redo the molds and these should be next on the list.

Of course clearing minis off of the table means getting more ready to go on!

But most of these are new additions, not old forgotten troops…

Chain of Command 2v1

Last week before the big Bolt Action event I played a game of Chain of Command with a couple guys that I meet up with occasionally. The last half of 2016 was a little rough and I hadn’t played anything for awhile so I was eager to get in a game when Dan suggested Chain of Command. I already had to pack up the car for the weekend so I just brought everything along and threw the table together while waiting. We did a simple attack/defend scenario with two regular German platoons defending against one American attacker.

 

Dan used his Americans, with a .30 cal and a mortar for support, plus an extra squad if I remember correctly. Howard and I had only a tripod mounted MG42 to back us up. The German counter attack came quick as I had a couple of good rolls and took three activation’s, locking down a side of the board with one squad and started throwing some pins around and kept the Americans behind a hedgerow with two squads taking cover behind a stone wall. Howard’s platoon took the long way around the board and eventually did some real damage to the American platoon by rushing a hedgerow and creating a crossfire, decimating a squad with a hail of grenades. The Americans eventually took the flank that I was holding down with a lone squad and threatened a jump off point, but had suffered some morale loss during the turn.

We had to call the game due to time, but the outcome was clear: The Germans were threatening two jump off points and the Americans had two broken squads (or what was left of them). I had a full Chain of Command die and could almost certainly end the game with a good round of fire and then use the die to end the turn, routing the broken units and cause a complete loss of morale. The Americans were at 5 morale and even good rolling on their part would have brought them to 1 or 2 morale, severely limiting their activation dice and just prolonging the end.

I’ve played several 3v2 games and the suggested balancing of adding a full CoC die to the side with fewer players worked well enough. I think Dan was simply out activated, an extra chain of command die wasn’t nearly useful enough to balance the game. I think next time we do a 2v1 game we will make the lone player elite, with six activation dice. I originally thought that an extra die of support would do, but without the dice to activate that’s not much of a help.