Monday, June 18, 2018

US Marines for Bolt Action

My first army specifically built for Bolt Action is done (well, not really done but playable).  This is about 1200 points of US Marines.  All the models are from Warlord Games US Marines line and are pretty nice models.  The core of the army are made of plastic and much of the support is metal.

I started collecting these models a couple of years ago so this has actually been a pretty quick transition from and idea to a usable force.  I am rather notorious for projects taking YEARS before they are ready to play.  My friends and I had decided that when we made the transition to BA 2nd edition we wanted to play new Pacific war armies.

Platoon HQ with LT, platoon sgt, and runner.  The figure to the right is plastic and the other two are metal.

This is the first of two flamethrower teams.  These are both metal models.

The second flamethrower team.  The separate heads, even for the metal models, means you don't have to have an exact duplicate for a models like this.  The assistant is plastic.

Bazooka team of metal models.  You can build a bazooka in the plastics set but the loader would end up being generic.

This is my Forward Observer team.  This  FO is plastic and the radioman is metal from the Marine command set.  This army can have up to three FOs so I am sure I will be adding more.

Marine sniper team.  This one will need some work.  The assistant is actually not 'legal' under the rules as he has a rifle.  The army list actually specifies the assistant has a pistol and can be upgraded to an SMG.  This model will likely become an FO in the future.

M1919 MMG Team.  I really am not a fan of this set.  The gunner comes with a figure base molded to hut butt in a very awkward way.  It took a lot of work to remove this base so the figure would sit correctly on the plastic base.  The M1917 MMG does not seem to have this problem and I will be painting up a couple of those in the future.

81mm medium mortar team.  The mortar crew are metal and the spotter is plastic built from the Marine box set.  I noticed just now that I forgot to finish painting the bases on these.  

Navy Corpsman and Marine stretcher bearer.  The strecherman is a wounded Marine that looks to have been pressed into service helping the Corpsman. A neat little set.

Marine Squad 1.  Ten men with 3 BARs and 2 SMGs.

Squad two configures the same as above.

Squad three is the same as the other two.  I plan to add additional figures to take these squads up to their full thirteen man strength.  You can have up to three shotguns in each squad but I am not sure its worth it.

Action Shots!

OK, I've not played a game with these yet so I decided to pose some action shots to get me excited about getting these on the table.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Age of Sigmar

After three years of delay I finally bought an Age of Sigmar starter box.  Yes, I know that a new version and a new starter set drops in about two weeks.  That is why I bought this as they will soon be gone.  My friends and I have decided to play Age of Sigmar starting with the new edition.  I will be doing the Stormcast Eternals to start with and this set gives me a nice starting point.  Combine this with the Stormcast Eternals in the new box and I will not need to buy anymore.  The Chaos models will make for a nice core of another army.  Being on a 40% off clearance made this a no brainer.  Well yet another game to distract me and something else to get my money.  Games Workshop is really killing me.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Battle of Point 213

Long time followers of this blog are likely aware that I have had a dream, for many years. to play the Point 213 battle from the Flames of War Normandy Battles supplement.  But like many of these dreams it had to be more than just a game of Flames of War with 15mm models - boring!  So I came up with the idea of playing the scenario in 28mm using the Bolt Action rules.  This idea actually goes back more than 9 years.  Tim and I initially started work on this project in 2009 using Tamiya 1/48th scale tanks.  You can see my Firefly here.  This first effort did not go very far as the 1/48th scale kits, which were really all that was available at the time, were just a bit too expensive at about $40 each.  So the idea died.

Fast forward to 2016 and we have all the tanks needed for this game available from Warlord Games in nice new 1/56th scale plastic kits.  These kits were only slightly cheaper than the Tamiya models but the various online retailers offered better discounts and in the end a platoon of these tanks cost about the same as two of the 1/48th scale kits.  This was suddenly a doable project.

After many months, about a year and a half, of work we had finally collected and built all the models as well as built all the terrain.  I had hoped to have enough bocage terrain to do a full 8'x8' table but at the time of the game (which was the first time I had all the terrain out) we were a bit short and had the switch to an 8'x6' table.

The British forces consisted of a full armored company.  There were three platoons, each consisting of a Firefly and three Cromwell tanks.  The command platoon had three Cromwells and the battalion commander was in a Daimler Dingo scout car.

The Germans had 4 Tiget I tanks each acting as their own platoon.  Had we been thinking about this more clearly we should have given each a +1 morale bonus as a platoon leader.  I will changes this for future games.  Two of the Tigers have veteran crews and two had regular crews.  All Tigers had the Lucky skill from the Tank War book.  The Veteran tanks each had an additional skill.
The battlefield.  At 8'x6' it was not as big as I initially planned but still large enough for a great game.  We allowed tanks on the roads to follow the curve of the roads without penalty but we did not grant the road movement bonus (mainly as I forgot that BA had this bonus).  In future games I will likely add this back in.

The battalion commander (the Old Man) has called a halt to the British advance and is holding a conference near the farm house.  He is surrounded by the company command platoon.

The rest of the company is deployed along the main road leading out of Villers Bocage. While the commanders are in conference the tank crews dismount for a brew.  To represent this D3 pin markers are added to all British vehicles at the start of the game.

A British Firefly covers the rear of the tank column.

The first Tiger arrives on the table.  This is Tiger 234 commanded by veteran Unterscharfuhrer Herbert Steif.  Upon arriving in the table he immediately fired at the British Firefly but missed.  The Cromwell ahead of the Firefly returned fire and scored a hit and a penetration!  This forced 234 to use their Lucky skill, negating the shot.  But you can only use that once.

Tiger 223, commanded by veteran Oberscharfuhrer Jurgen Brandt, enters next.  He moved full speed down the left had road North of the British position.

Tiger 223 was quickly engages by a Cromwell at the crossroads but his 75mm gun did not have the power to penetrate the think frontal armor.  This would make the beginning of a long and surreal gun duel between these two tanks.  The tiger would fire at and hit the Cromwell several time but would be unable to know out the weaker tank.

The arrival of the Tigers, mostly from the North and the rear of the column sparked a mad scramble by the British to clear the road and gain firing positions. 

First blood would go to the Germans.  Newly arrived Tiger 211, commanded by Obersturmfuhrer Jurgen Wessel, managed to get a good firing position North of the British and knocked out this Cromwell.

The German celebration was very short lived.  Tiger 234 was hit and destroyed by a British Firefly at the rear of the British column.  The early luck shot from the Cromwell would prove decisive. 

After knocking out the Cromwell, Tiger 211 was faced with a quickly forming British gun line.
Tiger 211 is now stuck in a British shooting gallery.  The volume of fire would force 211 off the bocage.
The British push through the gap in the bocage and use their knocked out comrade for cover.  The Cromwells really need to get off the road before the German guns wake up.

The British gun line at the shooting gallery.  They would pore a relentless fire on Tiger 211, making it extremely hard for the German tank to make any progress.

Back on the German left Tiger 223 has advanced to the crossroads under a hail of British fire.  Tiger 221, commanded by Untersturmfuhrer George Hantusch, is in support.  The Germans have a good position but they cannot hit, and when they do they are not getting effects.  AT this point in the battle German gunnery has become a bit of a joke.

Tiger 211 has been flanked by the Firefly and another gun duel is in the making.  Both tanks would have some very poor results.
On the German left the weight of British fire has stalled the advance of the Tigers.  If you give those Cromwells enough shots will will eventually get a kill.  Those Tigers need to get moving.

By turn 8 (out of 10) the Germans have managed only a single Cromwell knocked out and have lost a Tiger.  The remaining Tigers are in very bad spots so it was decided that Michael Wittmann was recalled from his solo attack on Villers Bocage to support the rest of this company.  He enters the table in the heart of the fighting on the German right.

He promptly misses the Firefly to his front.

But the Firefly has already knocked out Tiger 211.
Tiger 223 is knocked out the same turn.  The only results this tank racked up all battle was to remove the lucky from one Firefly.  All other results were either no penetration or a crew stunned result.

Tiger 221 was also knocked out on turn 8.  This tank basically spent the entire game pinned on the table edge unable to hit or kill.

In the end the Germans suffered a humiliating defeat.  The numbers are stunning.  The final kill totals were 4 Tigers for 1 Cromwell.  Considering each Tiger had the Lucky skill, meaning they had to be killed twice, it is even more stunning.  Only the Firefly's had Lucky and of those only one, I think, used it.  I have really never seen such a bad string of die rolling.  Having said that, I thought the game was great and I really enjoyed it, but I played British.  Click here for a video battle report from Bill, one of the players.

We have played several, smaller, test games over the last year plus and this helped.  The results of these test games showed that the scenario is balanced regardless of the outcome of this game.  Past games have been 50-50 on the win ratio.  This game was just an extreme example.

A quick note on the rules of the game.  We used the Bolt Action 1st edition rules as that is the version we are playing (this was the last game of 1st).  I decided to stick with 1st as I am not entirely sure how the 2nd edition rules will effect the game.  We wanted the Germans to have something like the stormtrooper move from Flames of War to sort of help address the disparity in numbers.  Mobility is key.  We decided to allow the German player, at the end of each turn, to roll the order dice for each tank.  If the result was either advance or run the tank could make an immediate advance move but could not shoot.  This move did not require an order test so even heavily pinned tanks had the potential to move at the end of the turn.  This really worked well.

I plan to run this game again in the future, as long all all the models are available.  Future games will be using the 2nd edition rules which are now learning.