Friday, 21 June 2013

Red Devils approaching!

Actually this week had an excellent start with "Trooping the Colour" on Saturday. This ceremony is closely connected with some of me earliest memories of English military tradition which sat the headstone for my livelong affection to the United Kingdom, its army and military in general. So I was highly motivated to get some British on my workbench finished. A perfect opportunity to put the final brush marks on the Red Devils I started to paint some time ago.

But unfortunately weather turned bad. Some hot air from Africa turned our part of Germany into a mixtures of oven and steamer. To be honest I like typical British weather as much as tea, biscuits or some nice fish & chips. Thus that subtropical sauna weather was just terrible to me. Even thinking of work made me sweat... Under those hard conditions it took until yesterday evening until I finished the first squad:
The whole squad
Miniatures are from Warlord Games' Bolt Action range and as usual I used nearly solely Vallejo Model Colours:
1. DPM smock:
Basecolour: VMC #70.823 "Luftwaffe Camouflage Green"
Camouflage 1: VMC #70.818 "Red Leather"
Camouflage 2: VMC #70.824 "German Camouflage Ocre"

2. Trusers:
VMC #70.921 "English Uniform"

3. Webbing:
VMC #70.821 "German Camouflage Beige"

4. Skin:
Formula P3 "Khardic Flesh" and Citadel "Elf Flesh"

5. Wooden Parts:
VMC #70.940 "Saddle Brown"

6. Blackened metal parts:
VMC #70.995 "German Grey"

Afterwards I painted some Armypainter Quickshade Dark Tone on the figures and added some final highlights after drying.

I know I adumbrated the DPM only but I like the result. It complies with my humble skills and gives an idea of the DPM even at wargaming distance.

Here are some detail shots of the boys:
Two troopers kneeling down and watching the surrounding area eagerly.
Corporal Williams throwing a hand grenade at a German MG-42 position.
Private Miller providing protective fire while Private Atkins is advancing.

Bren loader Private Jenkins catching up.
Lance Corporal Johnson rushing forward.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Napoleon's Retreat 1812 - A skirmish game

One of our fellows is creating his very own skirmish ruleset for Napoleonics. Especially for Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. The game is campaign and scenario based. It entwines around historical events during November and December 1812 and each match is to be lead by a gamemaster. It can be played with one or more players and each leads a small group of retreaters which is called his company. Depending on the composition of the company it may contain between five and twelve men who can be recruits, soldiers, veterans or heroes. This state determine their basic abilities and additionally they can gather new skills or special equipment during the campaign.

However we met up on Friday evening and Bernhard had prepared the third scenario of his test series. It was a bit difficult to imagine the harsh Russian winter of 1812 with about 25 °C outside but his table gave an idea of the snow covered wideness of eastern Europe. The vegetation isn't winterly so far but he and some other guys from the team are working on a new winter gaming table. Anyway for this game the excellently painted miniatures on the table fixed the rest. Most of them Perry and Front Rank miniatures from Bernhard's large collection and my five conversions. So sails were set for a great game...

Altogether we fielded four companies:
Holger lead a group of stragglers which gathered around Colonel Marbot (which you might know because of his sledges), Axel commanded some cavalrymen who lost their horses, Heinz was in charge of a mixture of Old Guard veterans and I participated with the grenadiers and one chasseur I modified myself.
Our mission was to close the gap on the retreating forces after we lost contact while foraging the surrounding hamlets. We had to reach the road before night closes in (after nine turns) or otherwise our severely wounded comrades (those who were dropped to 0 life) would be doomed to die. Unfortunately our soldiers had only three shots each but we knew that there was an amunition cart left behind somewhere in the woods. Naturally the area between us, the train and the caisson was packed with wolves, cossacks, Russian Jägers and other dubious encounters...
The battlefield with the ammunition caisson in the left forest and the retreating column at the other end of the table.

The retreating army... and our safe harbour.
Some figures of Axel's company.
We knew that three shots per man are absolutely insufficient to force our breakthrough. Hence we decided to turn our attention to the left flank and the abandoned cart. At least Heinz, Holger and I did so while Axel was disposed to secure our right flank. A typical task for cavarly... Mounted or not... But this time it held more danger then we thought. More about that later.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Bloggers for Charity - I'm in !

Most of you might have read about the project of James of Exiles Wargames Painter, Mike from Mikes Wargaming & Modelling, Andrew from Loki's Great Hall and Kevin from Kevs wargames Cabin. Those four guys started in May to collect supporters for the charity projects "Men Matter" and "Help for Heroes". The first one calls people's attention to the three main male cancers: Prostate, Testicular and Penile cancers. The latter is a organisation which helps British soldiers who were wounded in action and their familys.
To bring these organisations into the wargamers' minds the four are organising a large skirmish game of Muskets and Tomahawks for ccc (refight of the battle of La Belle Familie). After the games all the figures used in the game will be raffled to raise funds. Some well known companies like Warbases, AW Miniatures, Terra Firma Studios and Flags of War will support the project with material. Meanwhile they were searching other wargamers to help them with their painting skills or monetary donations.

However I decided to join the team and offered my humble painting skills. Andrew accepted ans so I'll contribute the painting of a unit of British redcoats for the game. I'm looking forward to receive further information which regiment will be needed and I'll use any progress with this as cause to keep you in the loop and bring the project into your mind again.
Help for Heroes

Men Matter

Friday, 7 June 2013

Reviewing X-Wing

A photo I took on my workbench yesterday and edited it slightly...
There are games that arrest one's attention but disappear between other projects. For me the old Wings of War was such a game. I saw it years ago on a fair and liked the test game we played. Since my wife didn't like it at all I forgot about it and its further edition were beyond my radar. But last year Fantasy Flight Games published a follower of this line of ancestors which I couldn't ignore:
After lurking around the core set for nearly a year I bought it last week and whish to present a short review of it. Somehow Anatoli from Anatoli's Gameroom blog had the same idea and presented his review some days before (here). It's really worth reading and I hope not to bore you with my humble point of view.

Contents of the starter kit
Actually the box is packed with a lot of stuff. Obviously and most important it holds three miniatures: Two Tie-Fighters and one X-Wing. Additionally the rules, pilot cards, damage cards, upgrade cards, manoevre wheels for all the ships, manoevre templates, special dice for firing and dodging, a bunch of different tokens as well as a set of mission material like satelites, asteroids and a shuttle token.
Contents of the X-Wing core set. Except the small blue box which I bought in the hardware store.
All of the stuff is well designed and of good quality. The miniatures come pre-painted and except of a small fault at one of the Ties' solar panels I see no reason for repainting or improving them. Even in closeup view they do rather well as you can see on the picture at the top of my post.
Rather mediocre pics of Tie-Fighter and X-Wing. Remember, they're 1:287 scale.
Therefore quality: 5 / 5

On the one hand that's a lot of high quality stuff, but on the other hand three ships is nothing more but a teaser. It's enough to learn the rules and practise the game mechanics but the three suggested missions are rather shallow. Really annoying is that there aren't enough dice to use all rules. E. g. when you fire the X-Wing's primary weapons at short range, you need four red dice, but there are only three in the starter set. While the lag of additional ships could be accepted as starter set factor, including too few dice smells just like daylight robbery to. Especially because FFG offers additional sets of dice...

Playability: 2 / 5

The Rules
After reading the rulesbook I got the impression that the rules should work well and smoothly. After two games which I played against myseld this impression proved to be right. At the beginning of each turn the players chose which manoevres their ships shall fly and adjust the manoevre wheels suitably. Afterwards the manoevre are flown with the worst pilot beginning. Then special actions can be performed and last but not least combat takes place. This yet starting with the best skilled pilot first. Hits and damage is worked out by special d8 and a set of damage cards. It works well and after some few sessions anyone should have taken the core rules in. If you are interested in them, look at FFG's homepage where they offer a free PDF (here) or at Heidelberger Spieleverlag for the German version (here).
But in spite of the simple rule the games promise to be exiting and anything but simple. It's rather hard to anticipate which manoevre the opponent might use and counteract in advance. Seems to promise a lot of suspenseful battles.

Ruleset: 4 / 5

Meanwhile two waves of additional ships hit the market and are so popular that they've been sold out for week if not for months. They deliver additional Tie- and X-Wing-Fighters as well as Tie-Interceptor, Y-Wing and A-Wing. Second wave provided the Millennium Falcon and Boba Fett's Slave I. Those are still available.
However rules include arrangements for custom squadrons which may include the additional ships. Thereby one could employ nearly any number or combination of the available ships depending on the mission terms and conditions.

However related to the nice miniatures that causes a high amount of expandability and a lot of potential to collect them.

Expandability: 5 / 5

After all X-Wing is an entertaining dogfight simulation game with the potential to create complex missions either from the Star Wars films or completely free. It's collection aspect complies to fans and gamers alike. Unfortunately the core set doesn't provide more than absolutely necessary to play small games to learn the rules. Therefore serious players will have to invest into another core set or some of the expansions.
But under these conditions X-Wing is a really good game about the combats most of us know from the Star Wars movies. I definitely stay tuned!

By the way here is the original photo:

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

AWI-AAR: Battle of Freeman's Farm

On friday our bi-weekly meeting took place at the club's HQ and we decided to play another game of AWI Black Powder. Holger prepared the Freeman's Farm scenario from the rulebook (pp. 110 - 117) which is inspired by the real battle in 1777 during the Saratoga campaign (for more background look here or here).
The figures came from several collections. Most of them from Holger, Heinz and Bernhard with my Scots as small addition.

However the battlefield was slightly smaller than the design in the Black Powder rulebook but it contained the key elements. On the one side the British with Hamilton's brigade with some pickets ahead on the left flank and Fraser's brigade advancing from outside the battelfield at the far right flank. Only some marksmen, Canadiens and Indians which belonged to his forces were present. The loyal troops were lead by Bernhard as incarnation of Brigadier Hamilton and me as Brigadier Fraser.
On the opposite site Heinz and Kalle took seat and embodied Brigadiers Learned, Poor and Morgan with their troops.
Holger acted as umpire and announced that maybe Von Breymann's German brigade might enter the battlefield under his command later in the game.

Anyway the aims of both sides was rather simple:
Meet and defeat the particular antagonist.
The battlefield with our British already set up.
Indians and Loyalists of my brigade (left) and Hamilton's pickets (right) which were deployed from the very beginning.
The game started with the British troops unfolding. Bernhard spread his troops over the center and left wing and began his advance in steady line.

The British left flank and center under command of Brigadier Hamilton
Menawhile I sent my Indians into the forest near the farmhouse to buy me some time until the rest of my brigade had entered the battlefield. An absolutely necessary task because I wouldn't have been able to withstand an American countercharge with those small units of my advance guard. Fortunately Kalle decided to take an entirely defensive position.

The American line of defense along the road between the two cottages.
After the first turns I was in urgent need of my troops. The Indians were slain by some continental regulars and my other troops were difficult to steer since they were far away from Fraser's command and didn't have the "Marauder" special rule. However the first of my regular units to enter the battle were the Scots who formed a line by the road and stormed towards the American seditionists.
My brigade arriving and slowly expanding.
Fortunately things went better in the center and on the left wing. Bernhard had his pickets capture the farmhouse on the left and his men defended it bravely against some skirmishing Americans. Meanwhile his lines advanced steadily by the sound of fifes and drums.
Hamilton's brigade advancing.
They appealed so much to the Americans that the largest of their three brigades entered the large forest in the middle of the battlefield and tried to hide from the redcoats. One of Heinz's surprising manoevre. We didn't actually know what to think about it but we suspected a shocking plan...

Simultaneously some heavy fighting arose on my flank. The Americans sent one brigade towards my forces and tried to overwhelm its front units. But the Scotsmen proved their stubbornness. They attacked and broke a unit of American militia suffering heavy closing fire. Afterwards they took a lot of musket fire from the surrounding Americans but their shaken morale lingered long enough to be rallied by Brigadier Fraser the turn after.
Meanwhile the rest of my brigade started their advance and especially the British grenadiers showed the benefit of hard drill when saving lots of hits without casulties and striding forward yard by yard.
Fraser's brigade preparing the decisive blow.
Although Kalle held his troops on my opposite in excellent order, his spirit started to falter. After my Scots had slaughtered his militia and the light infantery shot a unit of regulars to pieces, his worry lines deepenend. In this very moment we heared further fifes and drums closing by: The Hessians!
The Hessians bring the decision for the right wing.
Now the other British brigade closed a pocket around the forest in which the Americans hid and shattered unit by unit. When the continentals entered the forest they lost their tactical coherence and were doomed to be defeated bit by bit.
Hamilton's brigade clearing the forest yard by yard.

So ended a very entertaining evening and an exiting game with the Americans retiring. Very different from the historical battle but well deserved I think.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Monty the lucky beggar!

That's an incredibly good start for this week:
Lucky me won a nice lot of three old Airfix boxes in Mike Whittacker's raffle for his 100K celebration of last week (here and here) !
My booty...   :-)
Especially the Guards Band box is a thing I have been looking for for some time...

Many thanks to Mike for his raffle and good luck to all participants for the next draws.