Monday, 13 November 2017

610 - The Chaplain

Hullo, All.

Just a quickie today - aptly enough, just after Remembrance Sunday - I've made a chaplain to look after the spiritual needs of 4KSLI.

Having read surprisingly often about the astonishing everyday bravery of the chaplains who went into war, I was pretty keen one day to have a model in their honour, and since finding new rules for them earlier this year with the release of the 'Battle of the Bulge' campaign book, I knew I had to make one.
(He now has sleeve insignia)

Rather obviously he's made from a plastic British Tommy with a twisted wrist, a paper dog-collar and a paper sacramental scarf-thing. I'm pleased with this one.

Essentially (rules-wise) he can remove a pin each turn from a nearby unit on a lucky roll...but I've given him a medical kit too, so if all else fails he can be a more characterful medic!

Stay safe; We Will Remember Them.

- D.

Monday, 6 November 2017

609 - PER ARDUA! Start of the Rock Apes

Hullo, All.

This is the start - at last - of a project that I've been considering for a while: my RAF Regiment platoon for Bolt Action. 
The idea of these guys is two-fold: 
(1) I wanted the reinforcements for expanding my 4KSLI infantry to be something different yet compatible (mostly so that their half-arsed presence was more explainable!), and 
(2) I wanted troops who could feasibly be in either the Italian campaign or in NW Europe. 
In Italy, the plan was to have them fighting alongside my brave Sikh boys, but I've realised that not only are the figure proportions a little too different; they also have differently sized and textured bases. I couldn't handle that, so the plan is that alongside my formidable Churchill I, I'd also be able to field the Boys in Blue, above, and maybe a small box-set platoon of US Buffalo Soldiers too. But shhh! - don't tell my wife!

The plan for this lot will be a force (Flight) of about 500pts, comprising a Pilot Officer, two sections, a PIAT, a medium mortar [they seemed to use these a lot!], a forward air observer, a Marmon-Herrington armoured car, and a selection of small transports. I don't yet have the armoured car, but otherwise I'm good to go!
In addition to scouting, securing and patrolling forward air bases, these boys were also used extensively from late '44 onwards as general line infantry: equipped and used in the same way as their Army brethren. And there were thousands of them!
In terms of what I've done, it's nothing super exciting. A couple of RAF berets, the regimental shoulder flashes in sky blue on navy, and the NCO's rank chevrons in the same style. A fellow in the other squad will be wearing the popular RAF forage cap/side cap...or at any rate, a slightly altered version of the equivalent Heer headgear! 

Right then. Back to work.

TTFN!

- Drax.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

608 - More Bolt Action: Germans Vs Commandos and US

Hullo, All,
The best bit!
Not many pics in this post, as
So many models were unpainted.
Much as the title says, I managed to squeeze in another game last week - probably my last game in Portsmouth's 'Fistful of Dice' FLGS, sadly, as I no longer have the need to visit home regularly. A shame, on all fronts.

Still, as a final farewell, I got the chance to play Steve's Commandos again, as well as his friend Phil's US Army. Phil's an experienced gamer but new to Bolt Action, so we played a fairly open hand all game. 
The board. I'm advancing from the left.
I had 1500pts of my Germans supplemented by 500pts of Steve's - mine were my Heer Grenadier Veterans with their Hanomags and my new Panzer IV, along with a squad of Luftwaffe Field Division and (for its first outing) my Nebelwerfer! Steve's German contingent was all regular and mostly comprised two LMG squads, a second medium mortar, an MMG and a PaK40.

Arrayed against us were a very 'vanilla' US Army force of 1000pts (2 BAR squads, Sherman, Greyhound, mortar, 57mm AT, bazooka and an air observer) allied to Steve's 1000pt Commando force (modelled after Rattenbury's force if a few posts ago, but with an AEC III in lieu of the Cromwell. Four well supported squads all grouped around a Captain's squad: very fighty and near impossible to break!).

The game.

It took us a while, but we actually played all 6 turns of a meeting engagement! 

Early Game: 

Things started well for me. My sniper dispatched Steve's artillery FOO, which was vital as with 2000pts arriving over a 72"x12" belt, my units were too tightly packed for comfort. Phil had chosen to place his air observer behind terrain, so I didn't have to worry about an air strike being ordered until at least turn 2. 

My MMG was wiped out by (I think) Phil's Greyhound, but revenge was taken in the surprise form of my Sd.Kfz 251/10 trundling on and brewing up the US Sherman with its PaK36 "doorknocker!" Phil was not impressed.

The mortars and Nebelwerfer did nothing turn 1, but it was a stark realisation, I think, for Steve at one of the few weaknesses of the Commando Captain's powerful command bubble: everyone has to stay close!

Mid-Game:

Now things started to stall for the Germans - the Panzer IV had failed its order test and reversed back behind behind the buildings in the centre of my line, and I just wasn't able to destroy enough of the Allied units. To make matters worse, one of my mortars AND the PaK40 had both been zeroed-in on and wouldn't stick around much longer. 
Things start to hurt in my left flank...
On the plus side, I'd killed and pinned a few models with the mortar/Nebelwerfer combo, and my sniper had managed to bag the air observer - the bad news was that just before he copped it he'd managed to call in a fire mission on the centre of my line. Luckily, it was delayed at the start of turn 3; unluckily it came in with a roar at the start of turn 4...

...but I'd not been idle. Trying to make up my points from 1465 to 1500 had been a cinch when I realised that giving each of my three Hanomags a rear pintle MMG would do it perfectly, and although I figured I'd never use them, as it happened, I now knew that an airstrike would (on a 4+) be striking the centre of my line, so I fanned the three half-tracks out in a loose triangle with their backsides covering the centre of my lines - exactly where the plane was placed! Eighteen MG42 shots later, and the 'Jabo' called off its attack - hurrah!

The tables turned on me again, though: I lost both of the 251s in quick succession, and then on both flanks my infantry started to get whittled away and a bazooka was threatening my tank. Meanwhile, I still hadn't dealt with the blasted Greyhound or AEC in the centre, not to mention the AT gun or the mass of Commandos advancing on my left...

My centre squad of Heer Vets got brave and launched three Panzerfausts at the two vehicles facing them - no luck and they were left exposed.

End Game:

In turn five, with my back to the wall, the gods finally decided to roll with the Germans. A brave charge from the Luftwaffe Field Division finally took-down the Commando Captain and his last man, and at this point I really realised that I probably should've sniped his sorry backside earlier: he really is the lynchpin of that Commando formation! Ho-hum. 

On the other flank, I finally lost my PaK40 and my regulars were withdrawing, but success at last! The command 251/10, still basking in the reflected glory of its Sherman kill, finally brought its doorknocker to bear on the pesky Greyhound, and blew it sky-high around the same time as the bazooka team were dispatched.

This in turn cleared the opportunity for my Panzer IV to sneak out in the middle and put an AP round straight through the side armour of the AEC III wheeled tank. Thank god! 
The Heer finally dig in on the right...
...and the vehicles break out!
It was late in the day, but this was the real turning point: the Allies just couldn't come back from the loss of their vehicles and the Command HQ. Victory was agreed for the German Heer. 

It was a fun slog, and I was grateful to Steve and Phil for their engagement and good humour. Lessons learnt? Well, probably these:
-- don't forget that I can pin the crud out of open-topped vehicles!
-- don't put too much faith in the costly Panzerschrek: it hit nothing;
-- the Nebelwerfer was every bit as fun and threatening as I thought it would be...and just as ultimately useless!
-- snipe any Commando Captains;
-- don't block in your own Panzer IV!

All in all, it was a fun game and a great chance to try out a larger German force. Thanks again to my hosts, and I wish them success in their various hobbying endeavours.

Until next time then, 

- Drax.


Sunday, 22 October 2017

607 - The Battle of Hamburg, April '45 - Part III

Hullo, All. 

Six months ago(!) I played one of the best and most photogenic games of my life [link here]- a nod to the Battle of Hamburg against the entirely excellent Jon. 

What I never got around for was the third installment: when Jon and I played the scenario from a few days later in April '45 as the Germans tried a desperate, last-ditch attempt to retake the city against a hasty British defence.

Obviously after half a year I won't remember the details, but it was a cracking match and I always fully intended to post the pretty pictures at least, so here goes!
A gorgeous table again, as before. This time it was the
Brits who had the completely hidden (mapped) setup in
the town's outskirts - the Germans were attacking from
the green belt on the right of this pic.
My opening gambit: put a unit on 'Ambush'.
Jon's Opening gambit: send the Puma into the town...
...but we'd rolled to see whether the Puma had seen that
6pdr barrel sticking out of a window, and it hadn't...
..."Puma in open - 100 yards. Down safety...FIRE!"
The Puma was immobilised, and an understandably frustrated Jon
moved all of his troops into a solid thrust toward the town. 
Sadly, my artillery FOO had called in some defensive fire,
and at the start of turn two, a barrage pinned 'em all!

MEANWHILE, in the middle...
....the Hetzer had moved up to very close range. Now,
this wasn't a concern for me - until I realised that it was
a sodding Flammpanzer! 
"AAAaaaargh!" - fwoooOOOOSH!
The view from my back row (6pdr in that building, left)
Luckily for me, my PIAT survived the conflagration.
Unluckily for me, they only immobilised and pinned it. 
Not wanting to just sit and shoot, I scooted some Toms
out to bring the fight to the Germans...
...sadly, neither flank could destroy the Hetzer, and
both were left quite vulnerable.
Jon realised this, and his centre - having rallied well - surged
forward to invest both the building and the ruin. Damn.
Luckily, my brave boys were able to fight their way in to
the building and put pressure on the enemy in the open.
Higher ground!
To add insult to injury, and having finished off the Puma,
my 6pdr popped off a long-odds shot at the retreating
halftrack and blew it sky-high too.
Endgame. We had to call it: with no vehicles left, no
officer and mostly only inexperienced Volkssturm left,
Jon's attack had fatally stalled. A British victory.
The game was great, and poor Jon was superbly resilient, given his daunting task and terrible luck.

These games really were amazing: proof (if t'were needed!) of just how very awesome home-brew narrative scenarios can really be!

...and I love those pics of the 6pdr lurking in the house - love 'em! 
- Drax

Monday, 16 October 2017

606 - Trying 'Battlegroup' in 15mm

(or, 'I Can't Believe It's Not Flames Of War')
"Achtung - Jabo!"

Hullo, All.

Last week I managed to secure a night's gaming, and as Guy wanted to introduce me to something new, we went for 'Battlegroup' in 15mm...which if nothing else would be vindication for me not selling off my Flames of War army!
11AD in 15mm. For those of you newer to the blog, this is
the older of my 'historical' forces, but it's a company-sized
facsimile of my platoon-scale 28mm Bolt Action force!
Hearty thanks to Justin for permitting me to use his pics.
Battlegroup is very specifically divided into separate sub-games for the different theatres, so we went for 'Battlegroup: Overlord' for some 1944 Brits Vs Germans action at 'platoon' level: we both had a platoon of troops, a squadron of tanks and assorted support units, which was a perfect level for an intro game...

...what we didn't have was the rules. 

- We had three different theatre supplements (including - thankfully - Overlord) but not the core rules, so we had to blag those from a mix of 90% stuff Guy mostly remembered and 10% stuff I'd briefly read about beforehand. 
25pdrs are reassuringly versatile in BG...
...and the rate of fire from these buggers
against ground targets is vicious!

To this end, I won't go mad on what exactly happened, but suffice it to say that we had a good clash. When we called time, I'd clearly won 2/3 objectives, but I'd also accumulated one more 'point' than Guy (this is a Bad Thing in Battlegroup) so it was a happy draw overall. 
My FOO team took their grass with them! 

Time for some more pics, then my reflections...
The central objective: burnt-out tank by the building

The Germans advance on the objective
My miniature gun-line
3RTR loses a Sherman to the Panzers
Highlight of the game: RAF to the rescue!
At the end of the game, Guy realised that we'd missed out some fairly fundamental stuff, which might've helped some things to make a bit more sense, but overall it didn't matter at all. 

As I suspected, I much preferred the game to Flames (which tends to slow right down to a grind mid-game), and I look forward to playing it again. "Once more with feeling!" ...or at least, with the rules! 

Cheers,

- D.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

605 - Desert Sikhs Vs the Italians

Evening, All!

A week and a half ago, I was lucky enough to get in an early-war game with Guy, who (a) prefers early war and (b) hadn't yet met my Desert Sikhs - needless to say it was a joy to accommodate him on both fronts!
Guy's Germans weren't quite finished, so he brought along some Italians - luckily (for me, at least!) we rolled the mission in which each side has to get into (or exit) the other's deployment zone, so he was denied his defensive special rules as there was no attacker/defender.
After a little confusion, we actually played 750pts rather than 1000, so I didn't get to use any of my newly painted toys, but I had my list from way back at 'UK Gathering II' so I was at least familiar with it. Here's a handful of generic family photos:
I can't easily edit picture captions whilst on my phone, so I'll try to keep it simple. In essence, the early deployment of Guy's M13/40 MMG-toting tank opposite my left flank forced me to deploy heavily on my right, essentially steering me toward a classic (not entirely planned!) 'refused flank' approach. 
The Italian view. I would be advancing from the far side, so the right of this image is my 'left' flank.
In the opening stages, I did... well, not very much... and had to watch in dull dismay as his medium mortar's first round landed plumb on my 25pdr and wiped it out. Boo. My sniper, at least, was uncharacteristically useful...
My centre, at deployment
General advance up the right

The Italians move to reinforce their centre
In turn 2, all of my reserves came on - which was great - but my Crusader got well pinned by Guy's medium howitzer firing HE direct, on ambush. Ouch! This caused me more problems actually, as the stricken tank started to create a bottleneck right in the centre of my main axis of advance. Rats.

Talking of 'Axis' though, things weren't going too well for Guy either, as none of his infantry squads - not even the more experienced ones - would come on from reserve: evidently they'd found a safe place behind the lines to get some nice, cold gelati!

On the left flank, my Boys AT rifle team ran on and into the isolated small building there - their plan was to distract the tank and force it to present its flank to at least one of my three AT weapons.

By turn three, my bottleneck of troops was easing, but the Italian medium howitzer sent it's last shell flying toward my poor truck, blowing it sky-high but mercifully only killing one of the riflemen within. 
My lorry's aflame, (left) but the Italian armoured car has been forced back (right)

A bit of rallying and my troops started at last to surge slowly forward; my Humber MK2 helped by pinning its Italian counterpart, which had to reverse away at high speed when it failed its next order test [insert joke here]. 

Around turn three and four, Guy's squads FINALLY started to arrive, but still not all of them, and it was too little, too late. By this point, my mortar had killed off the howitzer, I'd secured the right flank and the Crusader's main gun had silenced the armoured car. Phew!
Surge!
On the left flank, meanwhile, my plucky Boys team had somehow managed to weather the storm of the M13/40 gunning the crap out of them, and even managed to pin it AND jam its turret with a lucky shot. Better still, it failed its order test to advance and instead reversed slowly away!

This put paid to the Italians' plans. They'd lost their flank to the Sikhs' advance, and on my left now, it was my dug-in AT team facing off against an officer and mortar team, who'd been reluctantly ordered to accompany him to secure my deployment zone. 

Worse still for the Italians, the Humber and my 1 Section had peeled off left in order to bring the fight to the centre and left flanks, where the only other competition was offered by the exposed remnants of a brave but inexperienced rifle squad. 

At this point, Guy gracefully conceded (and, I imagine, ordered the immediate arrest and execution of all his shirkers!).

Sikh victory. :D

Thoughts:

This was a fun and very good looking battle - I'm annoyed I didn't get more photos - but it was (amusingly) frustrating for Guy. A lesser opponent might've jettisoned his toys from the pram, but Guy's very much in it for the pretty views and for the joy of the storytelling! Props to him.

Tactically I was lucky(!) but my approach was mostly sound. I was disproportionately afraid of the tank(!) and had I realised that it was (a) slow and (b) very vulnerable on the sides, I would've taken a more aggressive approach to it...but I didn't! The Boys team were without a doubt my Most Valuable team, and Guy's howitzer excelled itself.

Hooray!

TTFN,

- Drax