Thursday, 27 April 2017

A Frostgrave AAR - my warband gets its first outing.

Last Sunday at the club my new Frostgrave warband got on the table against three other bands, those of Owen, Richard and Andy. Kev umpired the game. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but luckily Owen took plenty of pictures, and he has kindly let me borrow them for this blog post.

This was a one-off game but I think that we are now planning a proper campaign, which will be good. So, here is the initial table;

People are already starting to deploy. I am coming in from the right of the picture. Here are some of my desperadoes moving through the ruins.

The game was notable at the start for the inability of the wizards to actually cast any spells, occasionally even causing themselves any harm. At this point, I decided to save using magic until it was absolutely necessary.

Andy's band of Orcs made swift progress towards a huge pile of treasure but soon ran into problems and ended up embroiled in combat against a summoned demon that Richard brought on to the table as soon as he stopped failing to cast any spells.

His wizard seemed happier after that and late on in the game managed to cast Scatter Shot, which pretty much damaged everyone within range. He also managed to pick up an imp to fetch and carry coins.

Elsewhere, Owen advanced quite quickly, but became embroiled in a long-running combat with a ghoul. My wizard cast Bones of the Earth on one of his fighters, which anchored him while he was fighting the undead creature, allowing my guys to get past and head for more plunder.

Unhappily, a large and threatening White Worm attacked two of my thugs, killing one easily but the other fighter managed to hold on.

Owen's band seemed like an easier target than a giant grumpy vermiform, so I concentrated by attacks on them, sending an archer and a couple of fighters to pick off his gang.

At the same time, I sent a couple more of my men (including a zombie that my wizard raised from the grave) across the table to secure more loot.

Elsewhere, Andy was reeling from endless magical and earthly attacks, but managed to get his treasure away safely, even eventually seeing off the demonic entity that had caused him so many problems.

I also decided to cut my losses and make off with my plunder. Meanwhile Richard was plagued by a succession of attacks from marauding giant rats.

All in all, this was a terrific introduction to Frostgrave. The game mechanisms are pretty easy to grasp and the action comes fast and furious. I look forward to actually being able to gain experience and wealth in future games. 

In the meanwhile, I shall be painting up a few more magic users and maybe some other odds and ends for my Frostgrave collection.

A quick painting update

I've been working on a few things in the last week or so, so I thought that I'd post a couple of photos.

First up are two female magic users;

These are from Bad Squiddo Games and are by Otherworld Miniatures. The figure on the left is my first female wizard and the one on the right, actually a female barbarian adventurer, is her apprentice.

I chose to give them a dark colour scheme as I decided that they would be followers of the dark art of Necromancy. I think that this is in keeping with the overall dark nature of my initial set of warband figures.

They are both carrying torches. I thought that it would be a nice touch for the senior necromancer to have her torch producing magical blue illumination.

The other thing I've been working on is a set of 28mm resin Jump-Off Points for Chain of Command. When I bought the rules, I took the opportunity to buy the Full Bundle, which included these JOP markers. As I am working on using 15mm figures for my CoC project, I didn't really need these, but I thought that they would be a nice thing to paint and I could always sell them on eBay once they were finished.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Women with guns ............................

I recently painted up four female archaeologists for a Call of Cthulhu game at my wargames club and this gave me a taste for painting larger figures. Anyway, following on from the success of the previous game, we have another one planned for this weekend, a mash-up of Call of Cthulhu and A Very British Civil War.

A couple of weeks ago, I got started on some suitable figures and the first ones I painted up were these;

These (above) are six VBCW female militia figures from Ironclad Miniatures plus four female French Resistance figures from Dixon Miniatures WW2 range. This would give me a basic squad of ten for the game. However, I also needed an HQ group of five figures and my eye was drawn to the excellent Bad Squiddo range of female miniatures and the ones I really thought would work were the Dangerous Dames (2) set by Pulp Figures (below).

I wanted figures that I could use in other settings as well as just for this particular game and these are really nice models. 

It was my original concept for the VBCW setting that my figures would be part of an anti-government feminist revolutionary socialist militia and I think that the main group of ten work well for that particular concept. The other five are far more generally useful for different settings, especially Call of Cthulhu.

Anyway, they were good fun to paint and I am looking forward to seeing them on the table. I'll take a camera along to the game and hopefully do a bit of a write-up of the proceedings.

Monday, 10 April 2017

A D Day scenario for the US Airborne - an AAR for IABSM

This scenario, played out by myself (Germans) and Kev (Americans) at the club last Sunday concerns a company of US Airborne troops dropped inland from Utah Beach as part of the D Day landings. C Company’s dropzone is in the region around La Forge, a small hamlet on the road west from Sainte-Marie-du-Mont. Unfortunately, the company’s three platoons have been dispersed and need to join up in La Forge and consolidate their position and prevent German troops from attacking the landing zone. 
Capt. Eugene O’Neill, commanding C Company has set up his Command Post in the hamlet and deployed Able platoon in defence. Baker and Charlie platoons are scattered around and are attempting to find their comrades. Capt. O'Neill has to hold on until troops from Utah Beach can reinforce him. These are represented by a platoon of M5A1 light tanks.

So far, the US troops haven't been attacked, but German forces moving towards Utah Beach have spotted the Americans and need to eject them before joining the forces opposing the seaborne landings.
US forces

HQ : (1 blind +1 dummy)
Capt Eugene O’Neill (L4)
Lt. Marvin Doolittle (L3)
2 x bazooka teams (2 men each)
2 x Browning 0.30 LMG (3 crew each)

Able Platoon: (2 blinds + 1 dummy)
Lt Doug Gatsby L3)
3 x sections(10 men)
1 bazooka team
1 60mm mortar (4 man team)

Baker Platoon:
Lt Steve Austin (L3)
3 x sections (10 men)
1 bazooka team
1 60mm mortar (4 man team)

Charlie Platoon:
Lt Harry Cooper ( L3)
3 x sections (10 men)
1 bazooka team
1 60mm mortar (4 man team)

Tank platoon (on the road, heading for the village)
5 x M5 light tanks
Lt Lou Reed (L2) 

German briefing

American parachute troops have landed and are all over the countryside. One group is in the vicinity of La Forge. A company of Panzergrenadiers with vehicles has been dispatched to round up the Americans and prevent them securing the roads. Because of the risk of attack by fighter-bombers against large columns moving on roads, the German forces will arrive in separate groups. Two Panzerjägers are available but will not arrive immediately.

German forces

Wave One (arrives when German blind chip is first drawn) 2 blinds plus 2 dummy
Oberleutnant Stefan Wurst (L4 Big Man)
3 MG42 MG teams (2 men each)
3 Panzerschreck teams (2 men each)
1 SdKfz 250/10 with 37mm PaK and 1 SdKfz 250/9 with 2cm cannon and MG42

Zug One - Feldwebel Otto Klein (L3 Big Man)
3 rifle squads (8 men each)
2 Panzerfausts
1 additional MG42 team

Wave Two (chip goes in the bag when German blind chip is next drawn) 2 blinds
Zug Two - Feldwebel Uwe Seeler (L3 Big Man)
3 rifle squads (8 men each)
2 Panzerfausts
1 additional MG42 team
2 x SdKfz 251/9 (75cm L24 howitzer)

Wave Three ( chip goes in the bag when German blind chip is drawn for the third time) 3 blinds
Zug Three - Feldwebel Hans Helder (L3 Big Man)
3 rifle squads (8 men each)
2 Panzerfausts
1 additional MG42 team
3 x SdKfz 250/9 with 2cm cannon and MG42

The German A/T chip goes in the bag with Wave Three

Panzerjäger Zug - Leutnant Georg Ritter (L3 Big Man)
2 x Marder III 75mm Pak 40

 La Forge - a sleepy Norman hamlet

The first US platoon arrives from this side of the village

The Germans will approach from this side

The Germans begin their advance under blinds, spotting the Airborne platoon in the paddock surrounded by hedges in the hamlet. On the right more German troops move to occupy the walled garden, again under blinds.

Having been spotted by the Americans in the village, the German Zug takes cover in the walled garden. This will prove to be a problem in the coming battle. 

Both sides exchange fire, no casualties are caused but both sides take some shock. The noise of the shooting is bound to attract other troops to the area. First to arrive is a second US airborne platoon, quickly followed by more Panzergrenadiers and some SdKfz recce halftracks. A couple of SdKFz 251 halftracks with short 75mm howitzers also arrive.

Things start hotting up as more fire is exchanged. So far, neither side has suffered many casualties, but shock is slowing things down. The Germans seem reluctant to advance and this allows the US Airborne to start consolidating their position when the final platoon arrives. This platoon takes up a defensive position behind the bocage lining the road to prevent the hamlet being outflanked by German infantry. The German SdKfz 251/22 with a 75mm Pak 40 near the walled garden opens fire on the hamlet but misses, and this brings an instant response from the US bazooka teams, who destroy the vehicle after a couple of shots. 

By now, all forces apart from the US tanks and the German Panzerjäger Zug are in action. Both sides are also taking casualties, mainly to heavy fire from the LMGs of both sides.

The platoon defending the hamlet is suffering from MG42 and howitzer fire as the Panzergrenadiers begin to advance across the open fields towards their enemy.

Realising that being stuck in the walled garden is pointless and unable to move along the road due to a US platoon behind the bocage, the German troops climb over the wall and begin to advance across the ploughed field towards the hamlet. A second Zug moves up in support.

However, time is running out because the US cavalry has arrived in the shape of five M5A1 tanks. Where are the Marder anti-tank guns when they are needed?

The M5s immediately open fire with machine guns on the Panzergrenadiers caught in the open, inflicting both shock and casualties. The much-needed Panzerschreck teams seem paralysed with fear and are stuck in the middle of nowhere, unable to do anything useful. 

A section of Panzergrenadiers eliminates the US LMGs in the hamlet and advances over the wall towards the houses, causing the US commander to beat a hasty retreat. 

There is still no sign of the Marders, who must have fallen foul of the Allies elsewhere in the area, and the machine guns of the American tanks are decimating the Panzergrenadiers caught in the open in the ploughed field. Elsewhere on the battlefield, the third American platoon defending the road behind the bocage, has destroyed a whole section of Panzergrenadiers and pinned another in the open. Oberleutnant Wurst, the German commander is forced to admit that his assault has bogged down and reluctantly decides to beat a hasty retreat before the US tanks destroy his complete company.
We had to call a halt at this point because we had run out of time, but I think that my position (i.e. the German one) was decidedly weak. My infantry were taking a pounding from the tank machine guns and I doubt that my SdKfz 250 halftracks would have stood much of a chance against the fairly weedy 37mm guns of the M5s. I am assuming that their 20mm guns would have been pretty ineffectual against the slightly tougher armour of the US tanks. I really needed those Marders and it was a huge mistake to get the 75mm SdKfz 251 involved early on because it would always have been vulnerable to bazooka fire.

Getting a whole platoon of Germans boxed into the walled garden was a mistake too, especially as an American platoon pitched up almost immediately on the other side of the road, effectively blocking the exit.

Another thought-provoking game, with the victor's crown going to Kev's American Airborne troops.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Attack Through The Bocage - an AAR for IABSM

This game was played out at Lincombe Barn on Sunday 2nd April. The Americans were commanded by Chris and I was leading the Germans.

The AAR covers a fictional scenario representing an action between American forces attempting to break out from the Cotentin peninsula and clear a path southwards towards St Lô and the German defenders attempting to contain them in the weeks immediately after the initial landings.

US briefing

Capt. Travis Perkins, commanding A Company has been ordered to secure the road south from Ste Eulalie-en-Bocage to allow the passage of armour and guns towards the main objective south-east towards St Lô. The company has suffered some casualties since the landings at Utah Beach but morale is good. The Weapons Platoon has been detached and is not available for this operation, however a single platoon of M4 tanks is available. These are fresh from training and have not seen combat previously. The armour has a morale level of 3 but from lack of combat experience have the potential to be cautious. To represent this the Hesitant card will be present in the game deck but will only affect the tanks on their next activation or on the next activation of the tank Big Man. The infantry will be unaffected by Hesitant.

All the American troops are rated as Regular.

The company consists of;

HQ - Capt. Travis Perkins (L3 Big Man)
Sgt Enrico Fermi (L2 Big Man)
2 .30mm MG teams (4 crew each)
1 M3 halftrack with .30 MG and 2 crew

Platoon One - Lt Ernie "Brick" Wall (L3 Big Man)
3 rifle squads (10 men each)
1 bazooka team (2 men)

Platoon Two - Lt Roscoe P. Coltrane (L2 Big Man)
3 rifle squads (10 men each)
1 bazooka team (2 men)

Platoon Three - Sgt Cooter Davenport (L2 Big Man)
3 rifle squads (10 men each)

Tank platoon - Lt Ricky Reeves (L2 Big Man)
5 x 75mm M4 Sherman tanks

The Americans have one dummy blind

Recce teams report that German troops are active in the area and that armour is likely to be present. The ground is flat but criss-crossed with bocage hedges. A shallow but wide drainage ditch runs alongside the main road for part of its length before turning off across a field which is muddy and counts as broken terrain. The ditch can be forded by infantry but should be counted as a major obstacle. There is a bridge over this ditch that is suitable for light vehicles only. Vehicles cannot cross the ditch. There are two lanes running at right angles from the main road. At the far end of the road there is a walled farm on some raised ground, with a couple of outbuildings, surrounded by an orchard enclosed by a fence. Northwards beyond the orchard is a field of corn.

The bocage hedges are a major obstacle and take one action for infantry to get through. Tanks will take one action to break through and count as broken terrain to cross once a breach has been made.

Capt. Perkins must secure the road by clearing any defenders from the area and take the farmhouse. However, the terrain is difficult and every hedge or obstacle should be treated as a potential hiding place for enemy troops.

German briefing

It is imperative that the American advance towards St Lô is halted. Reconnaissance has indicated that the Americans intend to push down along this road to outflank our troops to the north-west of the town. Although our resources are stretched, Oberleutnant Hans Knopfel has been sent to guard the road with a weakened company of Panzergrenadiers. These are rated as Regular.

Oberleutnant Knopfel has also been provided with some armour, but not much, few vehicles can be spared. They are, however, rated as Veteran. Their commander Leutnant Heinz Scribner is a Tank Ace.

His forces consist of;

HQ - Oberleutnant Hans Knopfel (L4 Big Man)
Obergefreiter Stefan Schtupp (L1 Big Man)
4 MG42 MG teams (2 men each)
2 Panzerschreck teams (2 men each)
1 SdKfz 250/9 with 2cm cannon and MG42
1 SdKfz 251 with MG42 and 2 crew

Zug One - Feldwebel Ewald Schmidt (L3 Big Man)
3 rifle squads (8 men each)
2 Panzerfausts

Zug Two - Unterfeldwebel Fritz Blick (L2 Big Man)
3 rifle squads (8 men each)
1 Panzerfaust

Panzer Zug -  Leutnant Heinz Scribner (L3 Big Man)
3 x Stug III Ausf. G 75mm
1 x PzKfw IV Ausf. H 75mm

The Germans have two dummy blinds

Oberleutnant Knopfel's orders are to prevent the Americans from advancing down the road and to cause maximum casualties.

The game opened with the Americans advancing through the bocage under blinds. Because of the nature of the terrain attempts at spotting were difficult. The non-arrival of the German Blinds chip didn't help matters much either.

Before long, American M4 tanks had crashed through the bocage (presumably aided by Culin Hedgecutters, and were confronted by a single Zug of Panzergrenadiers. Despite the explosion of one tank from a short range hit from a Panzerfaust, the M4s opened up with a devastating salvo of HE shells which soon caused significant casualties and much shock, suppressing the German troops and soon forcing the survivors to withdraw.

At the same time, US infantry began to advance across the ploughed fields, to be met with a devastating hail of fire from MG42s in the roof of the farmhouse and also closer along the fence around the orchard.

Unfortunately for the Germans, the German Blinds chip (also the chips for the German armour and second Panzergrenadier Zug) refused to emerge from the bag for a number of rounds. Only the endless rain of bullets from the MG42s was keeping the Americans pinned, together with the Hesitant chip preventing the tanks from advancing any further. Finally, in a bloody bout of close combat around the fence, the German defenders were eliminated. However, more MG42 fire from the farm forced the Americans to withdraw in shock with heavy losses. All this time Capt. Perkins and the third American platoon remained behind the bocage, seemingly unwilling to advance into the cauldron of fire.

Eventually though, the Germans to the west of the main road started to move and soon the accurate 75mm fire of the veteran Panzer troops started to knock out the US M4s.

The arrival of fresh German infantry and the loss of their supporting armour seemed to cause a weakening of resolve among the previously confident Amis.

With Panzerschreck teams making their way through the orchard and a devastating series of bursts of MG fire from both the farmhouse and the advancing PzKfw IV, the remaining Americans realised that the tide had turned and began to pull back, leaving many dead and three brewed-up tanks behind.

So, a pretty tense and exciting encounter. From a German perspective, the early stages of the battle were dismal, mainly because of the non-appearance of most German chips from the bag. In fact, the chip for the L4 Big Man, Oberleutnant Hans Knopfel didn't come out at all (neither did that for his US counterpart Capt. Travis Perkins either), but the German L1 Big Man, Obergefreiter Stefan Schtupp's chip emerged frequently enough for him to activate the MG42s in the farmhouse, which pretty much stopped the US advance until the Panzers and the second Zug of Panzergrenadiers finally got moving. From that point on, the balance shifted decisively towards the defenders and the Americans pretty much had to retreat.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Making a start on Frostgrave

I've been interested in the idea of Frostgrave for a while, but never really thought about getting any figures because I wasn't sure I'd ever find anyone to play the game against. However, someone at the club recently showed up with a mat for the game and this piqued my interest. Inevitably, I took the plunge and bought the book and a couple of sprues of warband figures (Cultists and Barbarians) from ebay.

I've read the rules and it seems pretty interesting and I've also painted up ten figures from the sprues to be potential warband recruits.

Here they are;

I went for a relatively limited and fairly subdued colour palette, mainly because I don't really like garish figures on the table unless it is absolutely obligatory, but also because it seems to me that the kind of muscle for hire that would form a wizard's entourage might not be that bothered by appearances. I was also influenced in my ideas by the excellent gritty fantasy novels of Joe Abercrombie.

The miniatures I've painted so far are pretty much at the level of thugs, but I've also included a crossbowman, an archer, an infantryman and a man-at-arms. There is also one figure, the one on the left of the picture with the curved scythe weapon who could be used either as a thug or also as a thief (assuming one might think of his blade as an odd dagger).

To be honest, I am pretty pleased with the way they turned out. I've not painted anything like this for a very long time, not since I played Warhammer Fantasy about 20-odd years ago.

I also have a couple of figures primed to be my wizard and apprentice. These are going to be female practitioners of the magic arts and are from Bad Squiddo Games. I'll post them once they are painted. I'm not sure which magical path they are going to follow yet, so their colour scheme will be influenced by my choice.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Another Alien Squad Leader AAR

My Human Imperial army was on the table at the club again yesterday. This time my forces were pitted against Richard's Alien Enslaver horde, who might look somewhat familiar. Alien Enslaver armies are led by members of a Master Race with psychic abilities who command large numbers of psychically-enslaved Thralls. The leaders are also able to unleash psychic attacks against their enemies. This ability proved to be a huge problem for me.

Anyway, time for some scene-setting;

Still smarting from the forced withdrawal from the raid upon the despised Neo-Solar Autarky's planet, Hospar IV, Brigadier Natasha Franklin's strikeforce had withdrawn to Themis III, one of the Third Human Condominium's smaller homeworlds. The planet was not heavily militarised, but did have a 3HC military training academy and a resupply and repair facility. Brigadier Franklin fumed and kicked her heels as vehicles were repaired and new units were integrated into her command. "If only I'd been given enough troops", she fumed "That farming centre would have been dismantled and shipped off to one of our Homeworlds, and we would have stripped Hospar of produce too."

Her troops were almost back to full combat capability and had been reinforced by additional tanks and troops. Unfortunately, some of her jump-pack space marines had been detached for duty elsewhere, but additional heavy weapons teams would make up for their loss.  

With mere days before her force was scheduled to ship out, a hyperspace communication was received from the southern hemisphere, warning her that a strong Alien force of a previously unknown type had landed and was sweeping across the region of Euboea, destroying settlements and carrying off the populations. Within hours, her force was transported to the scene.

Brigadier Franklin's forces were deployed on the outskirts of a small industrial unit, with a number of units detached to hold the strategically-important command centre. 

The remainder of her troops were to the east of the site, under the cover of forests and low hills.

The powerful offensive punch of her main battle tanks was on her left, supported by infantry stormtroopers.

 Surveillance droids revealed the alien threat, which had already occupied the western industrial complex and the country to the south of the built-up area.

Franklin had never seen such troops. They were silent, eerie and their presence filled her with foreboding.

Armoured fighting vehicles began to deploy in the centre.

 Franklin's worst fears were intensified as reports came in from the Command Centre of casualties caused by unknown means began to mount. Her soldiers just fell screaming to the ground and their comrades looked on in horror as heads simply exploded. 

Despite this, Brig. Franklin ordered her troops forwards. The only way to win was to fight.

Some of the defenders of the Command Centre were forced to fall back but the only available jump-pack marines were despatched to reinforce the advance guard.

On the left, despite taking fire, the armour rumbled forwards, accompanied by doughty stormtroopers. Suppressing fire by these troops would prove invaluable on the left flank of the battle.

The evil alien invaders packed the industrial complex in silent ranks and began to advance inexorably towards to Command Centre. Waves of psychic assault finally eliminated the brave defence, leaving the Command Centre at the mercy of the enemy.

The 3HC force had comms links to powerful orbital batteries and commanders were able to call down indirect fire to devastate the alien hordes. Slowly but surely, powerful barrages began to thin out the enemy ranks.

However, despite taking casualties from the guns of the Vanquisher class heavy battle droid and the armoured vehicles, the aliens remained in possession of the Command Centre. Their ability to seemingly shrug off all but the heaviest fire was uncanny.

From the cover of the forest, the powerful battle mech rained fire down on the aliens, destroying a number of floating weapons platforms and depleting the enemy ranks even further.

However, a nasty battle was also being fought on the right, with both sides taking heavy losses before the aliens were finally eliminated in hand-to-hand combat.

 3HC casualties were heavy, mainly from psychic attacks, and the butchers bill grew more and more costly, even though I'd secured my right flank.

On the left, one of the MBTs swung round to occupy a copse of trees from where it launched a series of frontal attacks on the enemy, eventually eliminating them by simply overrunning and crushing them. This swung things my way on this flank, too.

Things were also turning the 3HC way in the centre as the alien numbers were further diminished;

Until, calamitously, after taking a number of hits, the volume of fire told and the giant battle mech exploded in a giant fireball and was eliminated. This left the centre pretty much unable to mount any kind of assault.

Finally, though, the MBT on the left literally crushed all opposition.

Although the aliens still controlled the industrial complex, their numbers were so much depleted that defeat was inevitable and the battered by unbowed 3HC troops cheered wearily as their opponents simply withdrew, as silently as they had arrived.

So, an interesting battle. From my perspective the real threat to my troops came from the psychic Oscillating Force attacks from the Alien commanders. These were pretty devastating early on. In hindsight, I shouldn't have bothered occupying the Command Centre, which was an objective for the aliens, stayed out of range and just blasted everything in sight. My big Mech and MBTs had a longer range than anything on the other side and effectively could have just stayed back, in the open with good lines of sight and picked off anything with heavy weapons. The main body of the alien army were the Thralls, who were pretty rubbish at shooting and in hand-to-hand combat, although the Heavy Weapons Thralls in the centre did eventually manage to kill off my Mech. 

What swung it for me was the indirect fire. I had some incredibly good dice rolls and eliminated a lot of stands of troops, which brought me to the brink of breaking Richard's army. Unfortunately, I was also on the brink of being broken too. Luckily, in the very last round of combat, with nothing left to do except mount three oscillating force attacks against one of my AFVs, only two caused damage, whereas my MBT on the left, plus supporting infantry fire enabled me to destroy the final stand of Thralls I needed to reach Richard's break point, leaving me a very lucky victor.

I think that my new casualty recording bases worked well too. I'll be using them again.