Friday, 21 December 2012

SAGA: The Taxman Cometh...

Adam and I managed to find time to have a game of SAGA last night (not that hard, SAGA doesn't exactly take long for us). The Brave and dashingly handsome Irish were fighting the ruthless, cold, kitten killing and generally bad guys, the Rus.

The Irish were hanging in their village, tending their crops, telling stories of their greatness and downing an ale or two, before the a messenger of the oppressive land owners arrived, demanding their due. Screaming something about taxation and representation, the Irish dutifully sent that messenger back headless.

Apparently that was not payment enough, so it was not long before the Rus arrived..

Cue the Imperial March from Star Wars....

The Warlord Fionúir emerged from his castle, ready to do battle.

The Warriors sallied forth to defend the wagon (which might have been previously owned by the Rus. It was their own fault for leaving the windows down and the keys in it)

The Rus advanced relentlessly towards the Irish, but much to their suprise, the Irish sallied forth from their walls, and sought combat! So much for a walk over!

The Irish ran forward, throwing Javelins at the oncoming Rus. In spite of a ridiculous number of projectiles, no one died. Not even a scratch. Loki was pulling the wool over the Irish eyes!

There are meant to be less of them!

This clever plan of running out and throwing sticks seemed to maybe not be the best idea. First, the women and children were hiding in the woods, and were spotted by the evil lord along with his axe-wielding vassals...

Ruh Roh.

The Levies needless to say did not last long. They killed one of the enemy, but were not spared.

Then the enemy levies sought combat with the brave Irish boys..

Which ended with the Warriors killing many Levies, but losing almost all of their number. Then they ran off (stupid enemy battleboard ability killing my dudes)

In the centre, Fionúir surrounded by his loyal wolfhounds was ambushed first by enemy warriors, who sacrificed three of their number to roll an astronomical 20 attack dice!


And after...

The cunning Rus had sought to isolate Fionúir, for without his loyal hounds he was easy picking for the heavy axes of the enemy Varangians.

But the Varangians themselves were then ambushed by yet another unit of warriors (I have a few), who pelted them with their javelins. This time, the missiles had an effect, killing almost all of the number. The last Varangian was killed trying to avenge the death of his brother in close assault with the Warriors.

But then those warriors were ambushed by the enemy Warlord and some more Varangians, the mutual destruction leaving just two men standing before the gates of the village.

The game ended shortly thereafter, when that lone warrior rolled many, many 6's on a dice to give himself a lot of Javelin dice, then proceeded to throw them all at the enemy Warlord. One missile was enough to cause a fatal wound, saving the village!

Not that there is anyone left alive in the village...

Was a fun game of SAGA, something very different! It was good to play SAGA after so long, the Irish were getting very bored sitting in a box without a game!

Right, painting challenge is all go, I need to get cracking. Moderns game Saturday, which will be awesome.


Thursday, 20 December 2012

Nam by Mark Baker, a review.

I bought Nam second hand when I was in Australia and had not got around to reading it until now. I would by no means call myself any sort of expert on the Vietnam War. I know a bit about it through my reading, but I know that there are a lot of people who read this who know far far more than I do. But yet, I am compelled to comment on this book. I finished up reading this book a couple of days ago, and after a few days of stewing about it, I was prompted to write about what I thought.

The book Nam by Mark Baker has been around for quite some time, published first in the 1980s this book is a collection of stories from people who were in Vietnam, soldiers, marines, nurses and others who told of their experiences through the conflict. Baker took the interviews and chronicled them together based on a series of titles, the start of the conflict, boot experiences etc, through to combat and finally coming back stateside.

The book is told from the first hand perspective of individual soldiers, and paints a pretty bad picture of them as a whole. The soldiers are portrayed through their words as being perpetually stoned, not giving a damn about their job, totally disbelieving about their purpose and totally immune to the horror of the lives that they take. Drugs are talked about at length, stupidity of senior officers (even from boot Lieutenants) is constantly talked about. Most of the book is following this track, it is almost horror writing. Americans (through their words) are seen as murderers, massacres are commonplace and sought after to perpetuate "kill-counts".

And that bothered me.

I have had the privilege of meeting servicemen, some of whom have served in different conflicts, including Vietnam. I know that I have a boyhood idealism when it comes to war, I grew up reading Kipling and the concept of the great adventure of war has stuck with me. Equally, I can comprehend the horror that was the Vietnam War through what I have read. Could I really understand what it was to go to war there? No, and I won't pretend I can.

But this book bothered me.

I am not so naive to believe that there weren't drugs in Vietnam. Equally, I know the war was not the heroic Americans saving the Vietnamese from the bad bad communists. But to portray every single character in a book as being that baby-killing stoner really bothered me. I can accept the fact that they existed. That war was frustrating militarily, fighting an enemy who refused to fight on equal terms, an enemy which held complete command of the local populace, who could melt into their surroundings.

How could you combat that? Collateral damage was tragically inevitable.

But I fail to believe that all of the soldiers who served in Vietnam were the stereotype presented in the book, and that is what bothers me. I know that the war was horrible. But perhaps I choose to believe that it did not destroy everyone like those who were portrayed in the book. I think there were heroes from that conflict, people who sought to help the Vietnamese, rather than simply racking up a kill-count.

And if I am wrong, so be it. Leave me to my delusions.

The saving grace of the book, was the concluding chapter. The plight of Veterans when they get home is something which the western world struggles with. We ask soldiers to do so much, but do we give them enough in return? I don't think so. I am sure statistics exist about suicides of servicemen, of them being incarcerated, of their inability to reform to civilian life. Is that so hard to understand? I think it isn't, they have gone through something unimaginable and unthinkable for society as a whole, broken rules which are socially taboo and have been kept isolated from society for the last however many years. And we expect them to reform right back in to line.

And that bothers me.

To all the veterans who read this, thank you for your service. I hope that you have found whatever form of peace which you need to be yourself. As for the book, well, I urge you to take it with a grain of salt. But there is a kernel of truth to the stories told, but I fail to believe that this was standard operating procedure for the conflict.

Please comment if you agree or disagree, correct me if I am wrong please.

Tonight, the painting challenge starts....


Saturday, 15 December 2012

ACW Test Model and Preparations for the Painting Challenge

The school year has almost finished up, which has started to offer me a whole lot more time to get into modelling projects before I need to pack everything up for the move!

In that time, I have been cracking into painting a 7 base unit of ACW soldiers, and here is the first completed soldier!

Just a standard Perry Plastic model, no conversions, just simple painting. His pants are pretty muddy, but that hasn't really come through in the photo. I did that mainly to break up the bright blue of his pants, so that it wouldn't overpower the rest of the model. He looks pretty good I think, will certainly fit the bill! The remaining 34 guys from the unit are all half finished too, hopefully will get them done and have the whole unit finished by tomorrow night.

Along with painting up a whole lot of blue, I have been getting things out of boxes and assembling them. I have had plenty of 28mm figures stuck unpainted (usually in their original blisters) as part of old projects, old ideas or they got stuck in the too hard basket.

The plan then for the Analogue challenge is for me to get them OUT of their boxes, and get them painted so I can actually use them! Or at least have them painted in their box!

The first couple of these armies got taken out of their boxes and put onto bases today.

Empress miniatures Taliban and Insurgents, they are at least on some bases! I have some USMC on order to oppose them too, probably using Force on Force I think. But they are lovely miniatures (I have avoided them for so long, but Empress are gorgeous), so I am looking forward to painting them!

Two squads of ANZACs in Vietnam and one squad of NVA infantry from Eureka Miniatures. There are a couple more on the way just to complete the ANZACs, and I will go looking at other companies to flesh out the NVA, as Eureka only do these 10! Not sure which rules I will use for these, I have the Ambush Alley rules, so they might work, but if you have any suggestions, let me know.

Oh, and that green blob in the back? A 28mm Huey. Can't do some Vietnam gaming without in my book! Just to give myself a bit of a challenge while I am at it. I think I will petition Curt to make it worth a few more points, it is ginormous!

Anyway, off to undercoat these now, then will get back to painting ACW. Then I need to prep a whole lot of 6mm Modern infantry, then I might start prepping some ACW... then some Thirty Years War....


Sunday, 9 December 2012

Analogue Painting Challenge 2012: Well, why not?

Well, it is that time of year again, Curt has laid out the next painting challenge, so another three months of frenetic painting will be had!

Given I am moving house in this period, I am not expecting much from myself at all, but if it will get some more things out of the boxes, painted, then put back into boxes, then so much the better!

This year there is a whopping 47 entrants, who each have 3 months to paint as many historical (or Tolkein) miniatures that they can manage!

The points breakdown has been modified for this year,

6mm foot figure = 1 point
6mm mounted figure, artillery piece or crew served weapon = 2 pts
6mm vehicle = 3 pts

15mm foot figure = 2 pts
15mm mounted figure, artillery piece or crew served weapon = 4 pts
15mm vehicle = 6 pts

20mm foot figure = 4 pts
20mm mounted figure, artillery piece or crew served weapon = 8 pts
20mm vehicle = 12 pts

28mm foot figure = 5 pts
28mm mounted figure, artillery piece or crew served weapon = 10 pts
28mm vehicle = 15 pts

54mm foot figure = 10 pts
54mm mounted figures, artillery piee or crew served weapon = 20 pts
54mm vehicle, limber, etc. = 30 pts

So, there are plenty of points on offer! It is likely I will just have 15mm, 6mm and 28mm models, but you never know with me!

The Plan

Well, the plan is to paint...

-28mm ACW Union 1st Corps. I have almost got my first unit done, now to do the rest!
-28mm Thirty Years War. I have a whole Spanish Army which has been in a box for god knows how long.
-15mm Flames of War figures- I have a whole lot of random stuff that needs to be done, things like Hellcats, Late War German armour, I wouldn't mind doing more Soviets. Plus whatever I play for Day of Days and Valleycon...
-15mm Vietnam. I still have a bit of this which hasn't been totally finished.
-28mm Vietnam and Moderns- I have a few things for both of these which should get done at some point. Wouldn't mind some vehicles too actually.
-6mm... Something modern. I can't seem to keep myself from getting more and more of this stuff. But some USMC definitly, then perhaps it is time to go to the Russians..?

Plus I need to paint ONE Samurai figure to send to Curt, as payment of entry.

A lot of plans and ideas, but now I have to actually put that all into some form of action!

But for now, I am off to do some assembling.


Thursday, 6 December 2012

6mm Moderns- Australians!

Well, it was inevitable after my trip to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps museum that I would write the rules for the Australians in Conflict '89.

The Australians adopted a pretty interesting formation in the modern period. Historically, the Australians (and New Zealanders) were regarded as some of the best light infantry in the world. Battles like Tobruk, El Alamein and the fighting in Papua New Guinea during the pacific campaign cemented that reputation.

But it was in those battles which the Australians realised the need for specific close supporting armoured formations- they were actually one of the first formations to be supported in big tank attacks in World War One. Through the later New Guinean campaign they were supported by Matilda tanks, using them as a jack of all trades style vehicle.

But on to the modern period. The Auzzies drove Centurions during the Vietnam War, by all counts they loved that tank, finding Splintex (flechette) rounds especially effective.

In the period of Conflict '89, the Australian armoured were equipped with Leopard 1AS4 tanks.

And here are my 10 Leopard 1AS4 Tanks, showing off the awesome colour scheme that is AUSCAM.

Supporting the Leopard tank formations is the Mechanised Infantry. Still equipped with the M113 of the Vietnam era (the AUSLAV is not available until the mid 90's), the Australians utilised multiple turret configurations, the most unique being the M113 MSV, which was an M113 equipped with the turret from a Scorpion light tank. This vehicle was tasked as an infantry support vehicle, based on their experience in Vietnam. Also in the formation is a mortar carrier also.

Again the M113s are showing off how cool AUSCAM is!

Of course, the M113s are transports, so need the infantry too

Infantry with 2 MILAN ATGMs and 2 Red Eye MANPAD

Also in support, there is a recon platoon of four M113, two equipped as MSV vehicles

I put them on bases with their dismounts, so I could tell which was which in relation to my formations.

Of course you also need someone to command it, this is the Battalion XO with his M577..

Another hallmark of modern warfare is using an unarmed helicopter as a forward observer for artillery batteries. The Australians use the Kiowa in this role.

So that is it, the whole lot!

What is next? Well.. These have been started..

But more on those soon.


Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Masters 2012- A Recap of the Guards in Wellington

Last weekend, 12 of the best (according to Rankings HQ) FOW players in the country congregated in Wellington to have a throw down to decide who would be crowned the Master of NZ FOW!

Ok, so I might have made the title up, and there are a fair few people who weren't at the tourney who I would rate a much better player than me, but at any rate I headed there anyway!

First game was against Tim W, who was running Hungarian Tanks. We played a Hasty Attack. 5-2 Win.

I rolled attacker on this mission, not that it overly matters when it is tank vs tank. This whole game boiled down to two very important things, firstly, Tim's reserves ALL came on in the exact wrong place (3 5's for reserve location), and his Panther bogged in the river when it didn't need to cross it.

But anyway, some pictures of the game.
First Troop prepares to engage the Hungarian Hetzers and Panthers before the game begins.

The 2iC tank goes stalking off by himself. This was a common tactic for me in the tournament, but this was the only time that it really worked, it got me in trouble a couple of other times!

The Stuarts came on as my first reserve, double timing up the right hand flank. This allowed them to flank Tim's CiC panther in the next turn, forcing it to move, when it was then dispatched by a 17pdr shot straight through the front plate.

Tim had one objective very well covered, by both Heavy Artillery and by Panther tanks. The artillery had little effect over the game, primarily due to me rolling an ungodly amount of 6's and 5's to bounce hits onto the top armour of sherman tanks.

My CiC went alone to try to destroy the last of the Hetzer platoon, thus preventing them from contesting the objective. It was not to be, as it missed. But what did happen was the Firefly behind the Hetzer put a 17pdr shot from 2" away into the back of it, finally destroying the tank. The CiC had his rear hanging out in front of 3 panthers, which had no other targets, he was hit and penetrated repeatedly to the rear. Ouch.

This was the end shot of the game, in the bottom left of the picture is the burning Hungarian CO, in the top left is two bogged Shermans who spent 3 turns trying to unbog, only for both to rebog! The bottom right shows the remaining two Stuarts who are duelling with Nimrods (for one loss each). Burning in the centre are the Guards CO and the 4 Hetzers, but in the middle of the wood is the objective, held by the one active Sherman tank in the whole bunch!

The other flank devolved into the Turan II tanks duelling with 2 75mm Shermans, to amount to a whopping 1 destroyed Turan after no less than 5 turns of shooting at long range! Worst Gun Duel EVER....

A 5-2 win for the Guards, but was a result of Tim making one mistake, and his reserves not appearing where he needed them.

Game Two was against Steve Hill, who was running SS with Barkmann and 2 Jagdpanthers. I lost 6-1 in a Free for All.

This game... I couldn't do anything right on my dice. I know wargamers are quick to blame their dice (workmen and tools etc), but in this instance, I couldn't buy a piece of luck.

Steve was running a very defensive SS panzergrenadier company, based around 2 mobile elements of Barkmann and 2 Jagdpanthers. Looking back at it, I should have deploed at long range, used Semi Indirect Fire and just said "come at me bro", but I didn't. I attacked, and payed the price for it. Sitting on my back board edge just isn't me, and that is probably why I don't win tournaments much, I just don't have the patience to time out win.

The Shermans deployed ready to start..

What do you mean "no rolling barrage"? Where are the Lancasters? The 5.5's? The thousands of Typhoon rockets?

And from that point it was all downhill. Steve deployed Barkmann forward, to make the most of his GTG status, he was deployed behind a low wall, where upon he fired twice, and killed 2 fireflies. From two shots. The Guards responded, getting a hit which went through the armour, and then.... I failed my firepower. My one chance to get a quick attack, and it does that. Barkmann did eventually die, but only after he had knocked out three more tanks. Then, because he is Barkmann, he came back, and shot two more tanks (because he repaired his tank, and then doesn't count as moving, nor has any penalty) By this time, I had two shermans which were refusing to unbog on a low wall, one troop was fully destroyed and I had no fireflies in the others.

I resorted to my usual tactics of assaulting things, but the cornfields slowing down the movement of my stuarts, which meant that they were sitting in front of Barkmann and two Jagdpanthers, who dutifully annihilated them. My one chance at a point was from his platoon of 2cm Flak guns, which I got down to ONE gun, who then failed THREE saves from 75mm HE. One of the three dice needed to be a 3+. Did I get one? No.


So, I died. But credit to Steve, he was most accomodating in letting me destroy myself with WW1 tactics upon his anti-tank assets.

Game Three was against Steve Chambers, in a No Retreat. A 4-3 Loss.

I was not feeling the best after the last game, I have said it before but I don't mind losing, I just hate feeling like I can't do anything. Give me destruction over impotence any day.

So when I drew Steve, who I know is a very good Soviet player, with an army with more tanks than I have, I knew I might be in trouble!

As it was, Steve deployed IS-2s, 2 platoons of infantry and a platoon of SU-100s in ambush. My plan was simple, throw everything but one troop up the left flank, send one troop to flank the right, then hope for the best.

Turn one amounted to me flanking an IS-2 with a 17pdr firefly, which dutifully annihilated it! The the Stuarts with their recon move zipped forward and assaulted the objective, claiming it for the Guards! Casualties beyond that were light. Then the SU-100s appeared from ambush, and so did the SU-122s from reserve. And they shot, and suddenly I had less Stuarts. In fact I only had one left!

The Stuarts when all was looking good...

The Shermans drove forward to reinforce the Stuarts, firing at the SU-122's, causing damage. Fire went into the SU-100s too, but their frontal armour protected them from firefly rounds (FA 9? Sigh). The IS-2s were seen off by a 17pdr round into the flank, the third running away from the fight. More fire went into the infantry, putting them below half, but they were still able to unpin and contest the objective.

And so, the shooting war began in earnest. SU-100s sniped at Shermans, which in turn were sniping at SU-122s and the fireflies were engaging the SU-100s. By this time, the SU-100s were flanked by 3 Troop, who fired 75mm into their flank, only to have them bounce off the armour.

The T-70s rolled on in reserve, hoping to shoot out the Sherman's flank, but they missed! The 75mm shermans tried to finish the SU-100s (to die gloriously) but could only bail two (firepowers!). The Troop's firefly did knock out 2 T-70 with the 17pdr however.

But the SU-100s were doing the damage, heavy rounds going straight through the shermans front armour. With unsuccessful return fire, the Shermans were finished off.

They did still have the objective, and Steve had to shoot the Universal Carriers, CiC Sherman and a Troop Commander Tank to prevent me winning the game. He had 2 shots with moving SU-100s on a 6 to kill the Troop Commander (which succeeded), 1 shot with 1 Sturmovik to kill the CiC Sherman (which succeeded) and 4 BA-64s to shoot the 3 Universal Carriers, which BAILED the one Carrier who was contesting!

If he had failed ANY of those 3 dice rolls, it would have been a 4-3 to me. But as it was, he didn't, so a well earned win to him.

The Battlefield was littered with wrecked tanks, T-70s, Shermans, Stuarts, SUs and IS-2s....

Game Four was against Bob, who was running Chaffees, in a Breakthrough. I lost 5-2.

I didn't think enough this game. Simple as that, I made a deployment error early on, and paid the price for it.

Bob put on table 1 platoon of Recon, and his Tank Destroyers. I SHOULD have put my recce and Bofors on table, but rather than doing that, I put all my tanks on table as a hammer...

Which in spite of looking awesome, was not the way I should have played the game. Turn One amounted to me driving forward looking cool (the comment was made that this was EXACTLY like a Bridge to Far, before the shooting started).

Bob's turn two amounted to him rolling BOTH of his reserves, and springing his Jacksons out of ambush. Which meant ahead of me was 4 Jacksons, behind me was 10 Chaffees, and the Shermans were stuck in the middle.

And they died. In droves. Three Jackson TDs fired their 90mm guns, rolling 5 hits and 5 successful firepower tests. Scratch First Troop off the ledger.

The Chaffees fired at 2nd Troop with 20 stabilized shots. Scratch Second Troop off the ledger.

Quickly, the Guards were 2 wickets down, for no runs.

In an attempt to save the day, the remaining troop fired back at the Chaffees. With 10 shots, 4 of which being 17pdrs (not that it matters to a Chaffee), and they all missed.

Hitting on a 4+.

So, the Jacksons fired again, and I had even less shermans, the Chaffees fired and I had even less again.

I did manage to kill ONE platoon of Chaffees through actually rolling to hit, but this game my dice were even worse than against Steve. Which says a lot!

Stuarts deployed forward to seize the objective!

Oh, Hello Jacksons.... 90mm you say?... AT 14?....

Shermans attempting to engage the Chaffees in spite of losses...

A troop moving past a destroyed Jackson, trying to engage the Jacksons and Chaffees.

So a 5-2 loss. I like playing Bob, but I don't like it when he is rolling well. Because it makes my army disappear, and that makes me sad. I can't fault him for the game, like Steve he played it perfect and really if he had average dice, I still would have been under the pump, but a little bit of luck my way and it would have been much different!

Game Five was against Damien in a Fighting Withdrawl with his 12 platoon Finnish Army.
4-3 Loss.

So, if there was ever an army I didn't want to fight in a Fighting Withdrawl it was the 12 platoon army of Confident Veteran Finns!

I knew I had to attack hard, and fast. I took the 3" mortars with my column platoon for smoke, and NEVER used them as a smoke weapon! What they did do was roll a LOT of 6's for firepower, meaning that they were doing all the killing for the first couple of turns!

Behind recce Stuarts, the shermans advanced fast up the left flank which was guarded by 2 PaK 40s and lots of infantry. The Stuarts assaulted early, putting a platoon below half (which passed the test), but pushed them back off the objective.

Casualties from the PaK 40s were pretty intense, destroying many a sherman and stuart, but I was able to destroy them with both the 3" mortar (which was kicking ass by this point) and with 75mm direct firing shots.

To win the game, I decided to assault with two troops of Shermans into a wood, to destroy the two platoons of infantry lurking within. The first troop went in, bogged one on the way in, but killed 2 teams. The pioneers responded, killing one, and I failed my morale (with a reroll), then tried to get out of the wood, and bogged. So 3 dead Shermans, for 2 dead infantry. Ouch. Scratch that troop.

So the next troop rolled in, with the CO attached. Who then bogged on his way in. The other 4 assaulted, killing multiple teams, but the Finns responded, bailing one, forcing the troop to take morale. Which failed with a reroll, thus meaning the CO was dead.

The two units of Finns ran away, but I was under half, and my CO was dead stuck up a tree like some lost kitten. So before I could win the game, I broke on company morale.

Damn trees!

Game Six was against Rob Shirley, in an Encounter, which was a 5-2 win to me.

This game was interesting. Rob did not have a lot of AT, but he did have a lot of panzerfausts in trenches. I thought a clever turn 1 assault by Stuarts might be fun (it wasn't), so with that failure, I deployed back and just started shelling the enemy.

The plan went well, his Hornisse appeared, then got shredded by Semi Indirect Fire, the PaKs got sniped by direct firing 75mm and one was killed by a Bofors!

The only glitch happened when Rob's halftrack recce were able to bail the stuart contesting the objective, meaning I had to break his company to win the game!

But, through no less than 3 seperate assaults, I was able to kill one platoon, von Sauken and put another below half (which ran), meaning he had to automatically fail company morale.

This game I felt SHOULD have been easy, but I should have known that aggressive infantry are scary to tanks, as his infantry very nearly caught my Shermans unawares when they went down to the woods.

I was getting a little stressed this game, Rob was making me think hard, which is why there are no photos!

So, all told I had a good weekend. I haven't had "bad" dice in a long time, so I was probably over due for some. Usually they are pretty good actually. But, as it was, the bad dice I had, I was needing them to be good dice, not just average, so it was my own fault for stretching myself too far on the odds.

It was fun running Guards, but I think I am more of an infantry player than an armoured commander.