Monday, April 17, 2017

Shadow War Armageddon

The Easter Bunny brought me a new game over the weekend - Shadow War Armageddon.  I feel VERY lucky to have obtained a copy as this thing flew off the shelves.  As soon as I heard this game was to be released and was going to be heavily based on the Necromunda game, my all-time favorite games, I knew I would have to have it and play it.

With barely any reading of the rules Tim and I decided we had to get this on the table.  I created an Ork kill team and Tim took Chaos Space Marines proxying his old Chaos Cult Necromunda gang.  I dug out all my old Necromunda and 40K card terrain and we went to fighting.

This 'new' game is really about 90% Necromunda and probably 95% Necromunda Underhive.  It is so close, in fact, we actually picked up the rules very quickly and then ended up playing Necromunda as we missed most of the very subtitle changes.  Most of the changes are around the teams you can take and how the campaign system works.

The game was a blast and honestly it could not have been anything else.  They started with one of the best designed games of all time and really resisted making major changes.  In our first game I pulled out the win.  I have noticed much commentary about how allowing power armor and such is unbalancing to the system but In out game the Ork firepower, such as it is, was more than up to the task of taking out power armored troops so I think these fears are over stated.

I have a feeling this game is going to get lots of play this summer.  I am trying to get a group together for a campaign so we will get a much better idea on the biggest changes to the system.  I currently have all the Necromunda gangs, which seem to be pointed exactly the same as the new kill teams, as well as Orks, Space Marine Scouts and Catachans.  I pulled out some Chaos Space Marines to paint up and I will be expanding my collection with other factions.

Game's Workshop finally released a game that is guaranteed to suck me back into the GW hobby.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Warlord Plastic Tigers

My contribution for the Germans forces for our big Point 213 game is basically done with these two models.  My friend, Tim, completed his a few weeks back while I have been busy building and painting British tanks and terrain. 

The first of my two Tigers is tank number 211.  This tank was commanded by Obersturmfuhrer Jurgen Wessel.  Wessel was an infantry veteran but new to tank combat.  For game purposes this will be a regular Tiger per the Bolt Action rules.

The second tank is tank number 223 commanded by Oberscharfuhrer Jurgen Brandt.  This tank will be a veteran Tiger per the Bolt Action rules.

I am getting really excited for this game but there is still a ton of work to be done.

And just for fun here is a picture of three tigers in three different scales.

1/100, 1/56, 1/48

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Germans for TANKS

I have been playing TANKS a lot this year and, of course, I must have painted models for the game.  In my early games I used some of my existing Flame of War tanks but I really want to have one box with models specifically for this game.  For the Germans I have purchased three expansion models so far - Panther, Tiger and Puma.  This is in addition to the Panther/Jagdpanther model included in the starter set.




Tiger I
The Panther is the only model I have purchased so far that had cards included in the starter set.  I wanted to know if you get new cards with and expansion that was covered in the starter set.  In this case there was only one new card.  If you already have Panthers/Jagdpanthers you might not want to buy this expansion.  The Tiger and Puma sets seemed to have all new cards and the vehicle cards are also new as they were not in the starter set.  I will likely pick up one of each expansion just to make sure I don't miss any cards.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Flames of War v4 Test Run

Tom and I got together yesterday to try out the new version 4 of Flames of War.  Actually we played what we are locally calling v3.5 which is the EW/LW free rules.  But we committed a terrible heresy by playing these rules with our mid-war armies.  This was done because we really wanted to get our old stuff back on the table but Tom has Italians and I have British Infantry, neither of which are playable with the proper mid-war v4 rules.  We figured that since most of the special rules are covered in either EW or LW lists there should be no reason that the MW lists would not work.

We played 1500 points of infantry heavy forces but with a balance of tanks and artillery.  Neither of us had air support so we did not get to try those rules.  In the interest of full disclosure neither of us have actually read the entire rule book so there is a slight chance that we did something wrong.  In fact it is almost a certainty.

British tanks and carriers move into the village in the center of the battlefield.

This post is not a proper battle report but really just a collection of thoughts about the game.  So first and foremost this is really 90% Flames of War.  There are some differences but I was really surprised and please this this is still the game I love.

British dug in on a ridge with mortars in support.
The first set of differences are the changes to the artillery and indirect fire rules.  The thing many people were concerned about before the release was the limit to the number of FO on the table.  My British army has 4, 1 for the 25 pdr battery and 3 for the 6 tube mortar platoon.  Now you can only take one.  The others are redundant teams and are not used at all.  I must admit I though this would be a major issue but in practice I did not find this all that limiting.  The fact that the formation HQ can spot as well as the battery self-spotting really meant that it is rare that you can't get a barrage off.

Italian infantry company takes up a position in a palm grove.
Another change with artillery is the aim point.  In v3 you aimed at a team but in v4 you aim at any point on the table.  This resulted in changing how ranging in works.  Since you no longer have to target a team you roll the range in against the spotter's skill level.  Once ranged in you then roll to hit based on the target's skill level.  This actually makes this consistent with how other types of shooting are resolved.   Since this is really the reverse of v3 it does take some getting used to.

Semoventis taking hits but only one would be lost the entire battle.
 Lots of players were concerned with the general increase in fire power that artillery particularly mortars received in the new edition.  The fear is that infantry will just be slaughtered by artillery and being dug in and attempting to hold ground will be suicide.  In our game I did not find this to be the case.  The first consideration is that increased fire power only plays a part after the target has failed their save and that is the same as last edition.  This means that infantry in the open are in no more danger than ever and are really only in slightly more danger when dug in.  The part that really stands out, however, are repeat bombardments.  Now all batteries can repeat as long as the FO still has LOS to the original target point and did not move.  These repeat bombardments are devastating in that the target must re-roll successful saves.  It is the combination of increased FP and repeat bombardments that will be the true bane of infantry.  Even with this improvement I spent three consecutive turns shelling an Italian infantry company that was dug and and I was not able to do enough damage to destroy them but they did take a pounding.  I really think this change is going to be a good one for the flow of the game.

British hold the town but AT fire is pounding the carriers and Matildas.

The next interesting change, and one that gave Tom and I fits, is the new target allocation method.  Gone are all the complex allocation rules from 3rd edition.  Now the shooter picks the primary target and resolves the shooting.  The the shooter allocates the hits to the primary target and then all eligible targets within 6".  The defender can then attempt to reallocate.  That is it in a nutshell and it is much quicker and much easier.  So easy, in fact, it was actually hard to do as we were both stuck in the old way of doing things.  Once we get this down it's a whole new game.

Matildas coming out on the loosing end of the gun duel.
 The change to movement may be the area where you feel the biggest change from v3.  There are now 4 different kinds of movement each with their own movement rate as well as 3 movement orders or tactics.  At first this seems like a lot, and to be honest I am still trying to digest it, but it actually not that much different than the old system. In v3 there were different movement rates based on the type of terrian you were passing through and then there was the at the double move.  Now you have a tactical move rate that you can use at any time and then you have three different dash moves depending on if you are dashing through terrain, cross country or on a road.  Gone is the at the double move and the silly double hits penalty!  The new movement system is going to take some practice but I see that this will change the tactical aspect of the game in a huge way.

The fight for the village rages on...
 The movement orders are Blitz (which is ironically named), Shoot and Scoot and Dig In.  Obviously the Dig In order is the same as last version but the other two are new.  Blitz is used before the Movement phase and if a skill test is passed allows the unit to move 4".  Since this is outside the Movement Phase the unit will still count as stationary if they do not move in the Movement Phase.  This is a pretty handy order and I used it with great success in our game.  The Shoot and Scoot order allows a unit that did not move in the Movement Phase to make a 4" move after shooting upon passing a skill test.  Again, a pretty useful order.

The Semoventi platoon would make good use of the Shoot and Scoot rule.
One big change that I think will really help mid-war and early war armies is how v4 handles guns listed as No HE.  In v3 No HE (High Explosives) was a very limiting attribute for a gun.  I basically meant you can only shoot the main gun at armored targets and never against guns or infantry.  This was a brutal limitation and didn't do a good job in representing how a tank like the Matilda would have been used in combat.  In v4 this limitation has been removed and replaced with a +1 to hit modifier.  This allows those 2 pdr guns to engage the enemy AT guns with something other than the machine guns.  This is especially helpful when the target is dug in or behind a gun shield as the main gun will have a better fire power rating.

Italian troops advance on the village after destroying much of the British support units.
 Next lets look at the new in command method for v4.  In the old version determining if a team was in command involved looking at the skill level of the team to get the command distance and then making sure that the team was within that distance from another member of the unit.  This could and often did result in units that were spread wide across the table.  This wide configuration really added to the complexity of the game without really adding anything to the playibility or historical 'accuracy' of the game.
Italian troops break cover and advance in the open.
 Version 4 changes this to a simple command distance for all units based on their size and is measured from the unit commander.  As an example, a 7 stand unit of infantry has a command distance of 6" so all teams must remain within that distance from the unit leader.  Units with 8 or more stands have a command distance of 8".  This forces the units to be tighter on the table than the old edition.  There is some concern that the tighter formations, particularly for infantry, will result in greater danger from artillery.  I found that this really didn't make a difference with how I usually play the game.  I never really used the full command distance allowed in v3 and I tended to run units closer together than say a regular tournament player.  Ironically most people ran their tanks fender to fender in the old edition even though tanks had 2" greater command distance than infantry. This will not change with v4 - tank parks will live on.  I the end this change will not really change how I play but others may find this extremely limiting.
Matilda platoon presents their side armor to the Semoventi platoon in a very foolish move that would cost me the platoon.
 I really like how in v4 most of your motivation testing will happen at the star of your turn and only happens once a turn.  The only exceptions I saw where tests for counter attacking in assault.  Version 3 had lots of testing and these tests could happen in any phase of the turn.  It was also possible that a unit would need to test several times a turn.  Now is it basically only once.  Additionally, the threshold for unit break tests is much lower than the previous version.  In v3 you tested for break at under 50% but now it is based on a minimum number of stands still in command.  This actually means that at times units are more resilient than the previous version and sometimes thes might actually be less resilient depending on how well you have managed to keep them in command and how your opponent allocated hits during shooting.

Italian troops prepare to swarm the village.
Well, that is all I can think of now after only one game and an incomplete reading of the rules.  Hopefully, everything I have discussed turns out to be things that we did correctly.  I will need to really digest this new rule book very carefully and certainly get in many more games before I feel fully comfortable ith how this game plays.  My first impressions are very positive at least as far as the rules are concerned.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

German 7.7cm FK96 guns for Flames of War Great War

This past weekend Tom and I got WWI back on the table after a several month break.  Knowing we were to play I felt inspired to pull out some models and paint another unit or my Germans.  This is the Battlefront pack GGE570 7.7cm FK96 n.A gun.  It is a two gun blister pack with the command.  You will never use the command unless you field this as a 4 gun battery.  As a two gun detachment the command stand is not used.  I do have another pack so eventually I could field the 4 gun battery but at 1500 points I doubt I ever will.  These were fun models to build and they might make it on the table for our next game, whenever that is.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Frostgrave Skeletons

With my interest in Frostgrave slowly increasing I decided it was time to get some of the encounter creatures collected and painted.  The fluff in the FG rules says that skeletons are the most common creatures encountered in the city (even though that is not realy reflected in the encounter table).  I decided this was the place to start.  Actually, this is just an excuse.  I have always wanted skeletons and I have never had a reason to do them until now!  These models are built from Games Workshop skeleton bits I have collected up over the years.  They were super fun and easy to build and paint.

I am having a little bit of an OCD attack around this project.  You see I only have 19 skeletons...19...that will not do.  My friend Tim is bringing me the legs and torso for one more skeleton so I will have a more calming number.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Chancellorsville May 3, 1863

A couple of weekends back my friends and I finally managed to get in the second game of what is turning into a Black Powder Chancellorsville campaign.  More than a year ago (actually nearly 2 years ago) we played the first battle which represented Jackson's flank attack against the Union XI corps on May 2, 1863.  This first game was a huge success and we were all sure we would get this back on the table quickly.  Well, that was not to be.  A few months ago we decided to get serious about putting on another game so we got to work to make it happen.

The Scenario

My vision for this was to continue with the Chancellorsville theme and this time tackle the May 3rd attack by A.P. Hill's division against the 1st Division, XII corps astride the Orange Turnpike.  The Union forces for this battle where better led and better prepared than XI corps had been the day before.

The objective for the Confederates was to breakthrough the Union defenses and capture the point where the Orange Turnpike exited the table.  This would be a long haul for the Confederates and success would hinge on a timely breakthrough.

The Union objectives are to hold as long as possible to allow the rest of the army (not modeled in this game) to withdraw and not be cutoff by the advancing rebels.  In game terms this was determined by preventing a Confederate victory within 10 turns.

Each game turn represents 30 minutes of battle.  With a 10 turn limit the Confederate have 5 hours to complete their breakthrough.

Long view of the table from behind the Union line.

The Rules

For this game we would be using selected special rules from the new Glory, Hallelujah! supplement from Warlord Games.  The conventions we used are as follows:

1. Charges - Charges into HtH must be a specific order to an individual unit.  The charge must happen within a single move distance (12").  No initiative charges are allowed nor brigade order charges.

2. Pass through - We used the unit pass through rules from the GH book to limit the ease of passing through lines.

3. Formations - We only allowed infantry units to be in Line, March Column or Attack Column.  Attack Column does not confer any combat or morale save bonuses.

For this game all woods and trees are for decorative purposes only.  In future games we will be looking at the enhanced rules from GH.

Confederate regiments in the deployment zone.

The Armies

The Confederate force is A.P. Hill's Light Division Commanded by Henry Heth.  The division was actually very large, between 5-6 brigades (the histories I referenced a little vague on the exact composition of the division for the battle,  Most map references indicate 5 brigades but the OOB is 6 with an artillery battalion.).  For this battle we went with 6 brigades split among 4 players.  The Confederate forces were as follows:

A.P. Hill's Division (Commanded by Heth)

Heth's Brigade (Commanded by John M Brokenbrough)
40th Virginia
47th Virginia
55th Virginia

Lane's Brigade (Commanded by James H, Lane)
7th North Carolina
18th North Carolina
28th North Carolina
33rd North Carolina
37th North Carolina

Archer's Brigade (Commanded by James J. Archer)
13th Alabama
1st Tennessee
7th Tennessee
14th Tennessee

Thomas' Brigade (Commanded by Edward L. Thomas)
14th Georgia
35th Georgia
45th Georgia
49th Georgia

McGowan's Brigade (Commanded by Samuel McGowan)
1st South Carolina
1st South Carolina Rifles
12th South Carolina
13th South Carolina
14th South Carolina

Pender's Brigade (Commanded by William D. Pender)
13th North Carolina
16th North Carolina
22nd North Carolina
34th North Carolina
38th North Carolina

Walker's Artillery Battalion
Brunson's Battery
Crenshaw's Battery
Davidson's Battery
McGraw's Battery
Marye's Battery

The artillery was divided up among the brigades leaving one brigade with no battery attached.

A view down the line of the Confederate deployment.

The Union force was considerably smaller but they held the advantage of prepared positions.  The 1st Division, XII Corps (William's Division) would be the adversary in the battle.  Their force consisted of the following units:

1st Division, XII Corps (Commanded by Alpheus Williams)

1st Brigade (Commanded by Joseph F. Knipe)
5th Connecticut
28th New York
46th Pennsylvania
128th Pennsylvania
1st New York Light, Battery K

2nd Brigade (Commanded by Samuel Ross)
20th Connecticut
3rd Maryland
123rd New York
145th New York
1st New York Light, Battery M

3rd Brigade (Commanded by Thomas H, Ruger)
27th Indiana
2nd Massachusetts
13th New Jersey
107th New York
3rd Wisconsin
4th United States, Battery F

All unit quality and special rules, as well as the commander ratings for both sides were determined randomly using some hand charts my friend tom provided.  We have used this random quality for our plast several games and they produce some very interesting units.  In this case the best unit on the field for the Confederates in the actual battle was Pender's Brigade and when I rolled up this unit using our random charts it was by far the best unit.

Union troops defending the works.  Reserve regiments in the upper right.

The Table

This game was played on a 12'x8' table which is the largest table we have used to date.  It did pose some challenges but it was really the right size for the battle (I think the Confederate players would have loved to cut off one or two feet from the length).  The Orange Turnpike rand diagonally across the table.  The Union works ran roughly perpendicular to the road on the other diagonal.  Other than some decorative items the only real terrain on the table is the line of Union defenses.

View of the Union center/left with reserve regiments in the background.

Union troops holding the line.

The surgeon has a lot of work to do.
The Battle

The battles begins at 5:30am (game time).  The Confederates are packed into their deployment zone and fill the line of more than 8' of troops.  The plan is to send troops to attack the Union left and right in order to pin the flanks in  place and then to hit the Union center with overwhelming force.  The plan is sound there are some major challenges that will need to be overcome if it is to work.  The Confederate left wing brigade will need to cross more than 6' of table to make contact with the Union right but the Confederate left has only 2' before contact.  This difference in distance could complicate the plan.

In what turned out to be a fortunate turn of events the Confederate center was extremely slow in launching their attack.  History might say this was all just part of the plan but the reality was that the center brigades were just not motivated to get into the fight.  This slowness did allow for both wings of the Confederate army to make contact with the Union works but they were too far away to really benefit from their heroic actions.  Both Confederate flank actions would be repulsed with huge losses. Pender's Brigade, the best in the Confederate force, made their charge and were pushed back, the brigade broken.  But these sturdy troops would rally only to be battered by Union fire.  Again they would rally.  In the end these fine troops were squandered in a futile attack.

Pender's Brigade charges in!

Lack of coordination between the Confederate brigades slows the attach costing precious time.

After misunderstanding an order a Union regiment leaves the works and charges the enemy.

Union reserves are brought up in support of the center of the line.
After an hour and a half, 7am, McGowan's Brigade would finally make their advance and they moved swiftly.  This rapid and aggressive movement seemed to inspire the rest of the Confederate center to launch the main assault.  The full weight of McGowan's Brigade would strike home not on the Union center but closer to the left where they managed to get 3 regiments in a single assault against a single regiment of Union troops.  This fight would last nearly an hour but they succeeded in breaking the Union troops.  McGowan's Brigade pored through the gap followed closely by troops from Heth's Brigade.
McGowan's Brigade breakthrough but they take a brutal beating and the impetus of the attack is lost.
The Union reserve troops, including some untested raw recruits, were re-positioned to block the advance rebels and pored a murderous fire into them.  This fire proved to be too much for McGowan's Brigade and they broke.

Union reserves have been committed to the center but the breakthrough comes to the Union left.  The quickly shift to stop the Confederate advance.
It was at this point with only one hour left (2 turns game time) to meet the timetable for the attack the Confederates conceded the battle.  The loss of the breakthrough brigade and the lack of supporting units in the breach meant that they could not achieve their objective in time.  Union pulled of a victory by the skin of their teeth.

Final Thoughts

This game was a blast and my be the best game we have played.  We had real concerns about the field works and how to rate them.  For our test game we used a +2 morale save modifier.  This made the Union unkillable.  I thought that dropping this to +1 would make it too easy to make the breakthrough.  Since there is nothing between +1 and +2 I was at a loss.  In the end we decided to randomly determine the morale save for the works and the Union lucked out and got the +2.  Had this roll gone the other way I do not think the Union would have been able to hold on.

I was not real sure about the Glory Hallelujah special rules at first.  This game was our first real use of them and I think the ones we used actually worked great.  Much better, in fact, than I was expecting.  The only one we did not use was the Rebel Yell which seems over the top to me.  I am sure we will try it at some point.

Our next game will take place sometime later this year.  Probably in September or October.  I am planning to run the Salem Church battle from the GH book.  I think we will need more Union troops for this game so expect to see some painting progress this summer.