Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kampfgruppe: Normandy Mods for 28mm

Let me start off this post by stating that I think KGN works fine for 28mm as is. It is a game with some rather large abstractions that allow the player to focus on the tactical aspect without getting bogged down in piles of useless stats.

I have been following Warwick Kinrade's blog for a while and trying to get a better feel for the game by reading the author's thoughts. One thing I found interesting are his ideas about the game when using 28mm figures. He feels that the larger figures, having more detail, changes the focus of the game and generally makes the abstractions, particularly the infantry, seem strange. At first I didn't really understand his issues, as I have already stated, I thought the game played well as is. He suggested a couple of changes when using larger figures.

The first idea he presents is to increase the range of everything in the game by doubling. That is a really huge change. It is also a change that I feel is not needed at all. The ranges are good and allow for a good size game on a 4'x8' or even 4'x6' table. Doubling the ranges would ruin this as almost all shooting would be happening at Close Assualt or Short range. I quickly decided to ignore this idea.

The second idea, that I like a lot, is to bring more detail to the infantry weapons stats. The slight reduction of the abstraction with infantry would really enhance the game without, I believe, bogging things down. This additional detail would involve more granularity in the fire power for small arms as well as restricting the ranges of these weapons. Basically, no more SMGs firing with the same range and rate of fire a rifle. This is a very common sense idea.

Here is a list of fire power and max ranges that I would like to test out in future games. These ideas are based on Warwick's stats without the range doubling.

28mm Small Arms Firepower Table

Firepower Maximum Range
Rifle 1 24”
Semi-automatic rifle1 1.5 24”
Submachine gun 2 8”
Pistol 1 8”
Assault Rifle2 2/1 16”
Light Machine Gun 2 32”
Medium Machine Gun 5 32”
Heavy Machine Gun 7 32”

round any fractions up.
2 firepower 2 at 0-8” and firepower 1 at 8-16”

If anyone tries these ideas out I would love to know how they work. Thanks to Warwick for the idea (hopefully he doesn't mind me swiping it).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Kampfgruppe: Normandy A Panther Hunt Scenario

Today Tim and I got together to try out the Kampfgruppe: Normandy rules. I picked up the rules from Warhammer Historical a few weeks ago as part of their 50% off sale. The rules were designed with 20mm models in mind but we are using 28mm models and figures. We played the starting scenario, A Panther Hunt. This scenario calls for a British force versus a German force. I did not have all the stuff for the British so I changed the scenario to an American force.

The Americans had an infantry platoon with a medium MG team. They also had a Sherman tank platoon with three tanks and an M10 tank destroyer. Not a bad little force. The morale value (MV) for the Americans came out to 17 with two command units.

The German force consisted of an infantry platoon with an 80mm mortar and a PaK40 anti-tank gun. The Germans also have one PZIVH and one Panther. The germans had an MV of 15 with only one commander.

It is interesting to note the differences between the German infantry platoon and the American platoon. The American platoon has three squads of infantry with 10 men in each squad. The have a BAR light machine gun and a Bazooka in each squad. The German infantry breaks the LMG teams out from the infantry squads so there are three infantry squads with five men in each. There are three LMG teams with three men in each.

This difference in unit configuration can really change how the two forces are played. More units will generally mean more flexibility in selecting targets as well as more maneuver options. Fewer units are easier to activate, therefor, more likely to actually do something.

Tim took the Germans and I played the Americans. Tim always plays the Germans...

Here is a point of criticism of the rules. There is an army roster that you can download from WHW. This roster sheet is pretty much useless. I could not figure out what information should be on the roster and thinks I thought should be on it had no place. In the end we just made notes of vehicle stats on note paper and referenced the gun stats from the book. I need to see if someone has made a better roster or I might just need to make my own.

Anyway, back to the game. The American deployment can be seen above. The battlefield had a dog-leg road on the right flank running across the table. In the American center as a field edged with bocage. On the American left as a large wooded area. The Americans deployed two Shermans to the right of the road along with one infantry squad as well as the infantry platoon HQ. On the road was the M10 and the .30cal MG team. In the American center was one Sherman and one infantry squad. On the far left of the American line was a single infantry squad behind the woods.

The Germans side of the battlefield had a large wood on the extreme left. Next to that is the other end of the dog-leg road. This road is lined with bocage with only a couple of gaps. In the center of the German side is an orchard surrounded by a stone wall. On the German right is a second road that runs diagonally and exits the table on the short table edge. This road is line with low hedges. To the right of the road is a farmhouse.

The Germans deployed most of their infantry on the right along the diagonal road or in the farmhouse. In the gap between the orchard and the diagonal road was the Panther. In the orchard was one infantry squad and one LMG team.

We rolled off for the first turn. This would actually be an important roll as we had both deployed armor on the road. Whoever went first would have a huge advantage. I got lucky and got the first turn.

The Americans started off with a big push on their left flank. One Sherman and one infantry squad moved up quickly on the left while the M10 cautiously moved up the road and fired on the PZIVH. In KGN direct fire can be tricky because you must spot your target first. If you fail this spotting check you cannot fire. Fortunately, vehicles in the open are extremely easy to spot (for me anyway, Tim would have lots of trouble with this early on). The shot from the M10 was on target and the PzIVH was destroyed. I thought this a great way to start off the game but Tim was not impressed.

In American center one Sherman and one infantry squad moved up and the Sherman attempted Suppressing Fire on the LMG team in the orchard. Suppressing Fires differs from Direct Fire in that no spotting check is required so it is much easier to do. The down side is that you are not likely to damage the unit you are firing at. The Sherman was able to suppress the LMG team so Tim would have to draw a morale chit in order to rally the unit.

Throughout the game there are certain events that require a player to draw a morale chit from the cup. These chits mostly have numbers on them. These numbers are subtracted from your MV as noted above. Once a force is reduced to zero MV their force breaks and the battle is over. The most common reasons for drawing a chit are when a unit is destroyed or to remove a suppression marker from a unit.

The Germans were taken by surprise and where very slow to react the American attack. The Panther moved up and attempted to fire on the advancing Shermans but with no success. The suppression was removed from the LMG team so they were already starting to feel the morale hit.

The American quickly secure the dog-leg road and began to pore fire into the Panther as well as the infantry in the orchard. Most of the was of little effect.

The German fire from the orchard hit home against the American infantry and they started to take casualties.

The Panther has several good shots but either failed to spot of failed to hit.

The American were able to get one Sherman on the Panther's flank. Faced with two Shermans and one M10 to the front and one Sherman to the side things were looking grim for the Panther.

A lucky shot to the side and the Panther was aflame.

A this point in the battle the Germans had lost both tanks and had only managed one killed American infantryman. The Germans had already collected a few morale chits. Tim was just about ready to throw in the towel. Bad dice rolls and a dislike of the rules meant he was not having much fun (I was also giving him a ration of shit about his whining so that was not helping either). We took a little break to talk over the rules and check a few items in the rulebook.

We decided to press on with the battle and soon the Americans were taking a pounding in the center. A series of suppressions and direct fire damage was taking a tole. In addition, another big push by the American infantry to flank the orchard would get severely bogged down trying to cross the bocage.

All of this drama was capped off by the Germans infantry squad moving out of the orchard to engage the tank platoon commander. The Panzerfaust hit and the Sherman brewed-up. This was really bad news for Americans. This was not only a lost tank and a chit for loss of a unit, it was also a lost commander. This would make the command phase a bit tougher.

The Sherman supporting the commander eventually destroyed the German infantry squad but the damage had been done.

Just eight German infantry hiding in the walled orchard had held up my flank attack and done real dame to my center. The good new was that there were only two of them left. Time to press harder one the German positions along the diagonal road.

For most of the battle the American had been ignoring the main German force to their left. By the time they were ready to attack this line the M10 was out of ammo and had retired, one Sherman had been destroyed and another was stuck along the dog-leg road attempting to cross the bocage. The American infantry on the left had been suppressed and taken a couple of casualties but was still combat ready. The American were attempting to shift the infantry from the center to wards the left but they were taking a beating.

In order to support the attack on the left the Shermans from the center swung around to engage the Pak40. This gun had been an annoyance most of the battle but had done no damage. It was time for it to die. The Sherman fired HE at the gun team but the shot went wide!

The Pak40's return fire was true and the Sherman went up in a ball of fire. In addition, the Germans were able to destroy the two American squads attacking the diagonal road. This was the end of the battle with the Americans broken. Germans win with 20 points to 14. The last couple of turns were very closely fought.

I really had a great time with this game which is something considering it was the first time we played it. After out mid-game break the rules started to click for Tim and he really started to get into it. What helped was getting to more infantry action. I do not think the A Panther Hunt scenario is a very good first game. If I were to setup a scenario for an introductory game I would not include any armor or vehicles. I think you get a better feel for the rules by playing infantry. Having said that, I thought the armor rules worked fine and are fun.

I have a few more thoughts on the rulebook. The actual rules only take up the first 70 or so pages of the 350 pages of the book. Those first 70 pages are pretty well laid out and the rules are pretty easy to follow. The remaining 3/4 of the book is comprised of the army lists, scenarios and background/historical information. This part is divided into a British sector and a US sector. Each section includes scenarios, army lists and a campaign. The problem that I have is that finding the information in these sections is a major pain in the ass. The layout of the book would have been better served by putting all the lists in one place, all the scenarios in another and the maybe just splitting the historical and campaign stuff by zones.

The book is very beautifully done and includes some really nice model and game photos as well as some historical pictures of the Normandy campaign I have never seen. On page 242 is something I have never seen in a rulebook for a miniatures game before - a photo of a dead American soldier (I actually cannot recall ever seeing a game with a picture of a dead soldier for any nation). This was actually a bit of a shock and I found it distasteful. I am probably over reacting but I just thought that was fairly classless. Sometimes, as historical gamers, we forget that the games we play, or write, are about events that actually happened. People actually died. I understand this, I just don't need to be reminded of it in the rulebook. I will step off the soapbox now, sorry.

All-in-all I liked the game and I plan to play it again. I thought the 28mm models worked fine with no modification to the rules. I would love to see additional periods and theaters of the rules covered and I understand that some may be in the works. Knowing how long it takes WHW to put out a book it may be a long time before we see anything else for this game.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thoughts on the Year Ahead

2012 is here and it time for me to ponder the gaming year ahead. This is an exercise that I, and many others, indulge in every year and it is generally a pointless exercise. This is a terrible time of year for me to be thinking about the future. I am totally burned out from the holiday madness and I have yet to get any inspiration. This means that this is all just a huge guess.

Even though this is a guess there is some thought and reason behind it. This year will be a tough one for the hobby budget. My wife is returning to nursing school and that will soak a lot of the mad money for the majority of the year. That means that new projects might be tough to get started. With that said let the pondering begin.


This is going to be a major focus for the new year. I have a great love of a beautiful table. Probably even more than my love of nicely painted figures. To me, miniature gaming is the whole package; figures, terrain and rules. Lately I have let the terrain projects slip. In fact, it has been a couple of years since I have worked on a serious terrain project. There a a few categories of terrain that I hope to make progress on this year.

28mm - The first area I want to work on is 28mm terrain for WW2 games. I will be working on some Normandy terrain. I really needs Bocage, French builds (farms, town and churches) and some good roads. This will probably be the first project I work on.

15mm - Flames of War has inspired me to expand my terrain collection to include 15mm elements. I got rid of lots of this stuff years ago when I got out of 15mm gaming so now I must start from scratch. Since most of my gaming for FoW is North Africa and Mediterranean that is where I will start. I am planning to do some items for Tunisia with hopes of getting use out of them for other areas. I need mostly buildings and roads.

GW Terrain - I have quite a few GW terrain kits I would like to build and paint. Since I already have these I am sure I will be working on them as it will be cheap to do.

Hex Terrain - I have been thinking about this for a long time. I was a huge fan of the old Geo-Hex system and have always wanted a nice setup. Years ago I built a lot of the 4" hexes from GHQ fo use with micor-armor. I really loved that stuff. My friend Mike has a jig for cutting hexes and he made some very cool terrian hexes. I want to do this badly but I need to figure out what kind of terrain and for what scale. Right now I think this would be a great addition to the 15mm Flames of War collection. Stay tuned for this one.

Lord of the Rings SBG

This is has become the old standby game. I have no major plans for this game this year other than playing in the Gathering in the Desert GT in February. I know that I will be playing it and since I will be playing I will be painting. And since I have a large collection of figures to paint it is an easy area for a tight budget.

Flames of War

Flames of War got a lot of table time and painting time last year. I had a lot of fun playing and the painting was quick. I want to keep going with this game this year. There is a new version coming soon and the rules will be free to those who have the second edition rules book. Free fits in the budget. I don't have any major new army plans but I am sure I will sneak in some new Plastic Soldier Company models. If I were to start a new project it would be a mid-war Soviet tank force for Kursk, otherwise I will just keep addint to the 8th Army and Fallschirmjagers.

I would like to do an Infantry Aces campaign with my usual gaming group but I am affraid that most of them have cooled on FoW (if they were ever really hot for it to begin with). There seems to be a lots of different reasons why they are not feeling it. Maybe the new version will help spark some renewed interest. I will just have to keep working on them.

28mm World War II

Oh how I love thee 28mm WW2! I know I talk a lot about this but it seems I don't do much with it. That is because I do talk a lot and I don't do a lot. I am always whining about rules and such and I expect that to not change in the year ahead. I have great hopes that Warlord games will release there WW2 rules this year and it will be everything I have ever wanted. As the saying goes "Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment."

I have been reading the Kampfgruppe:Normandy rules a lot lately and I really like them. I was a but put off by the army lists as they are strange but I think I can get past that. I plan to get in a couple of test games soon.

I would also like to get a couple more games of Rules of Engagement in. I liked the rules but they got poo-poo'ed by my usual opponent. I my have to try them out with someone else to get a fair assessment. Likewise, Rate of Fire needs to see more table time. The first test of these rules left me a little flat but I think they can be fun with a better understanding of the rules.

The good news is that the painted collection is big enough to be able to do just about anything for rules testing and gaming that I would like. I also have lots of unpainted to keep me busy. I made one last order from Crusader USA, at the end of the year, to fill in a few gaps. Expect to see some newly painted stuff throughout the year.

I realized when I was doing the summary post for last year that I have never properly documented my 28mm collection on the blog. I have done some posts on the new items I have added but nothing on the entire collection army by army. I plan of doing some posts to correct that oversight soon.

It is my secret hope that 2012 will be the year of 28mm WW2...crap I just told the secret.

Warhammer 40,000

I am not even sure what to say about this. Rumor has it that there is a new version (6th) due out this summer. Whoopidydo! I can honestly say I couldn't care less. I really like 5th edition and I don't see any reason for a new version. I say that as a player who only plays against friends and never in tournament so I really don't know much.

I have shit-gobb-piles of figures and models. I have enough Orks to do several thousand points. The same is true of IG and Space Marines. I am sure one of my four armies - Orks, Space Maries, Dark Angels, Imperial Guard - will catch my fancy and I will go on a painting/modeling binge. Last year I was sure I would work on Orks all year, instead I painted a pile of Catachans.

I do not envision any purchases related to this game this year but those GW b@&%^s will probable get money from me for the new rules. Isn't this great? I have regrets about something I have yet to do...I am such a fool.

28mm Ancients

One of my first major gaming obsessions was 28mm Ancients gaming using the Warhammer Ancients Battles rules. Man I loved that game! I built several armies and play tons of games. We had a great local group of players and held an annual tournament. It was great. But all good things come to an end and interest in WAB slowly died out. Some people might say it was killed off but now is not the time to dwell on this. WAB 2.0 almost renewed the interest in the period but, saddly, WAB 2.0 sucked and you could only get it from the UK. The good news is there are a couple of new rule sets out that could get me back into the period.

The first is Clash of Empires. I picked these up last July and have read through them. I have also watched a couple of games locally and the game seems to be just what the doctor ordered. It is very much what WAB 2 should have been and then some. I think this game could just what I need.

The second is Hail Caesar. I was really excited when I heard these rule where coming out as they are based on the same base mechanic as Black Powder and I love those rules. My mom bough these for me for Christmas and I have yet to dig into them yet but I will very soon. So far, all the reviews of the rules have been positive.

The good news, from a budget perspective, is that I have the rules as well as two painted armies. I also have a third army in the process of being painted as well as lots of unpainted figures. This means little to no expense to get back into the period.

Black Powder

This game is turning into a myth. I have had the rules for nearly two years and I GM'ed one test game. It is another project that I talk a lot about but never seems to materialize. The good news is that I have made progress on the figure collections for the game and I should be able to continue that this year. I still have lots of ACW figures to paint so no new purchases should be required to finish that period. I also have some Victrix French left to paint so I should be able to finish off my starter French Napoleonic force. As for playing, this should be the year where ACW hits the table. My fingers are crossed!

The Great War

Here is another Warhammer Historical game that I would really like to play and a period I have always had an interest in. Late last year the guys and I discussed making this the group project for the year. A few of us were very interested and others not so much. My limited budget for the year may make this a non-starter and I certainly will not able able to do a force of Renegade or Great War figures like I dreamt of. I might be able to purchase an Old Glory late war army to get me started. I don't hold much hope for this project but I am not ready to give it up just yet.

Other Games

Here is the catch all bucket of the forgotten games.

Last year's Poncho Villa project might get some more painting time as I already have the Mexican figures. I will not have the $$ to add in the Americans or the Federales this year. It seems like some of the other Old West players have moved on so I don't expect that we will have our campaign day like we have done the last couple of years. That is too bad as I really like those events.

Legends of the High Seas...hmmm...what should I say about this? I have some unpainted pirates that I might be inspired to paint this year. Again, I have the figures so it is a cheap project.

Blood Bowl was the first game I played this year. I had never played it before. I had a good time and the games seems pretty solid. I could see myself playing again but I will not be building a team.

I wonder if this year might be the time to pull out the Zombies and do some Zombie Apocalypse games? I have tons of cool figures I could paint for this. Something to think about.

I am sure I will get in a few games of BANG! and maybe some other card and board games. I keep thinking about Descent (that is about as far as it will go). Maybe I should play some Space Hulk...I paid enough for the dumb thing.

Blogging and the Blog Community

I have never really thought about my blog and my interaction with others in the miniatures game blogging community as part of my hobby but it really is. I spend more time working on my blog and reading others blogs than I do playing games or painting models. With this in mind I need to take this a little more seriously. I have a bad habit of not replying to comments to my posts and I don't do as much commenting on the post on others blogs. I need to be a better member of the community. I really believe the feedback that you get from the blog is a great motivator.

In the five years I have been doing this blog my posts have mostly been documenting my painting and modeling projects. This is fine and it really is the main focus of the blog but I would like variety. This year I will try and do more writing and not just posting of pictures. I would like to do more battle reports, how-to articles and maybe some book reviews.

Painting Totals from 2011

Here are my final painting numbers from last year. Not a bad year.

Lord of the Rings - 93 (3 mounted)
40k - 104 (1 Vehicle)
Old West - 18
Flames of War - 168 (39 vehicles, 4 guns)
28mm Napoleonic - 28
28mm ACW - 34
28mm WW2 - 16

Total YTD - 461