12 August 2017

Bolt Action - Force Adjustments for 500 point games

Our club has recently developed a real taste for smaller 500 point BA games on club nights.  This allow a game to be very leisurely played and placed up inside 90 mins - important as we play at a pub so this allows additional eating, drinking and chatting time in the evening  :-)

But more importantly, the smaller game is giving very intense gaming experiences.  With only 5 or 6 units, every activation is important and every casualty has an effect.  Its quite a different experience than a 100+ point game.  However, the smaller scale means that means that some game effects are unbalancing.  For example, the Free US Air Controller or Brit Artillery FO can be utterly devastating.  We also didn't want to allow players to come along with an unbalanced force of say one big tank and 1 squad to capture objectives. So we are using these rules to adjust the force .  I offer them here for comment and use as desired (and so I can find them easily!):

* 500 point games are generally played on 4 x 4 sized board
* At least 4 units must be taken

* No Hvy Guns can be taken including Mortars, Howitzers, AA and AT (unless its a specific scenario)
* National Characteristics Adjustments (because their impact is overly influential at the lower scale)
  • German - no changes
  • British - no free artillery observer. +50 points
  • US - no free forward air observer. +50 points
  • Russian - Free squad reduced to 6 men.
  • French (just for you Dave) - Free Light Howitzer

* Note - I was also tempted to limit vehicles to a max armour value of 8, but with a minimum 4 units and 500 point ceiling this should generally be self limiting (noting tanks cant capture objectives)

In addition to Bolt Action this will work equally well for smaller Konflikt 47 games too (we we hope to try out soon)

Feedback welcome!

10 August 2017

Bolt Action Patrol Scenario - Roadblock!

Brit Paras defend a roadblock, aided by the thematic dice bag
That wily Herr Flick of the Gestapo is a cunning chap!  Last week he was bagged by the Red Devils before he could divulge the information he obtained from interrogating General Urquart regarding the tea and biscuit supply caches supporting Monty’s 21st Army Group.  

Now it seems that the wily Boche agent, seeing that his capture was imminent, scrawled the details of at least one of the supply dumps on the wall of the villa in which he was ensconced. A rag-tag Kampfgruppe has been dispatched to destroy it, but the men of the Airborne Brigade once again stand in their way...

This was another 500 point Patrol game - the Roadblock Scenario from OP SEALION.  I took my standard 3 vet squad British Airborne list against club buddy Steve’s German list.  This was the first time I had played BA with Steve and his list was quite atypical from what I have faced before.  He had a Veteran 5 man squad with Assault Rifles, 2 Regular Heer Squads, a wonderfully characterful though inexperienced Kriegsmarine Squad and an inexperienced MMG team in support.  It was a lot of targets to shoot at.
Stephen's wonderful Kriegsmarine squad - I had a morale dilemma shooting at them (at first)
I was set up with 2 veteran squads in position at the barricade and they would prove typically difficult to dislodge. Steve pushed hard down my right flank, leading with his cannon fodder sailor squad (which it pained me to shoot at), followed by his better troops. From the start my dice were very good, the sniper taking out the MMG and the LMG from another squad the next turn, and my medium mortar was devastating once it ranged in on Turn 3.  The handfuls of dice that the four SMGs in each of my squads threw out once in range were most useful too (very useful of the smaller 4 x 4 playing area).
Jerry grabs the road block - but can he hold onto it?
Nevertheless, Steve cleverly used the available cover (including his less valuable troops!) and in Turn 6 assaulted the roadblock, eliminating the Paras holding it to contest the objective and draw the game.  Unfortunately for him, a Turn 7 then ensued and my reserves eliminated his forward elements, while my mortar dropped a final salvo on his beleaguered regulars and routed the last Germans from the field.

A fun game but perhaps the scenario was a little unbalanced by our use of open force selection – those Brit Paras were just too tough for Steve to dislodge in an equal points game.  Perhaps another 20% of force to the Germans to account for the scenario would balance it better.
Love love LOVE this model and how Stephen painted him.
He is the ginger Captain Haddock of the Third Reich!
A lot more comfortable in his U-Boat than the trenches though :-)
While my dashing Red Devils are serving me well, I have been playing them since 2014 and I need to change it up a bit and get some variety.  I am going to play about with some lists now to do something different, drop some points and get an armoured car into the mix.  At the same time, one of the other club guys is going to try a Hanomag focused force which at 500 points will be challenging to counter.  

Overall, its an interesting shift in gaming approach for me - I have always gone with historical ORBATs and this is the first time I have ever tried to optimise a force within a point limits disregarding that entirely.  In any event, it demonstrates the utility of the BA system and simply dropping to 500 points is giving this game an entirely new feel and lease of life with us.  More to follow!

06 August 2017

Guards Brigade on the move!

With the upcoming release of Battlegroup: Market Garden later this year I thought I would expend my British Army a bit from the Airborne and start some new vehicles to represent the XXX Corps drive north to Arnhem.  Here are the first few completed.

I've always been a fan of the Cromwell Tank so when I spied Warlord's resin version with burlap camo I was in and the Guards Brigade used them as Recon vehicles.  Actually, painting the burlap drew me crazy - I went first with hessian colour but against the tank's green it look really dumb.  So I picked out the cloth strips in different colours and it looked a bit circus like.  Anyway, this was the final result with lashings of mud, dirt and dust to show its off-road recce role.

Insignia is for the Guards Brigade

I also did something different, painting the Tank Commander's goggles and all the periscope optics with a gem effect - not sure if I like it yet but they add a bit of colour and match each other nicely .

Naturally, one cant recreate A Bridge Too Far without having Michael Caine (playing Col Vandelur, CO of the Irish Guards) and his Humber Scout Car on the Table.  I got the Warlord resin boxed set which is nice, and then added lashings of stowage and bits to the outside.

Lots of mud, dust and grime were added to again demonstrate the hard work of the recon forces ahead of the main body.
Big Joe directs the column from his spiffy ride 
I might have gone a little overboard on the Olive green highlights, but it is the Irish Guards you know!
Not sure what I will use it for  yet (its a very expensive mobile LMG in Bolt Action terms) but its an iconic vehicle so I had to have one in my force :-)
Forget Jerry's big cats - Odin is the biggest threat in this garden!

03 August 2017

Bolt Action Patrol Scenario - Capture Herr Flick!

Odin's Night at the pub in action!
Last week we saw British General Urquart captured by the Germans, interrogated by the vile Herr Flick of the Gestapo and subsequently rescued by the dapper Red Devils of the Airborne Brigade.  However, before his rescue the General was subjected to unspeakable torture (some of their operas last for days you know) and forced to reveal the location of all the tea and biscuit dumps supporting the British invasion forces.  

Herr Flick is racing to his masters to hand over this key information; if the Luftwaffe can bomb the pivotal tea logistics nodes, the invasion will undoubtedly grind to a halt - Herr Flick must be stopped at all costs!
Herr Flick loiters with friends in the Gestapo safe house
Time to call in the men of the...

This was a 500 point patrol game using the Capture Churchill scenario from OP SEALION. Defending Gestapo HQ was Slowpainter John and his Gebirgsjager.  This was their first tabletop outing after being painted rather wonderfully by Patch of WWPD fame.
John's lovely Gebirgsjagers
Her Flick started in a small building in the centre of the table, covered by a sniper team and with an infantry squad outside.  The first two gliders dropped in and two British para teams took up station on the North and South sides of the house.  Gunfire was exchanged, eliminating the sniper team, and decimating the German infantry in the open.

As the next two British gliders dropped in, the paras dashed into the building to take Herr Flick prisoner, but he would not go so quietly as that.  His chattering schmisser gunned down all the tommies as he laughed maniacally but with Teutonic poise (John rolled a double six for 2 kills, while I only managed one).  Herr Flick was obviously considered a top agent for a reason, and not a man to be trifled with!
"Think you can take me Tommies? Dummkof!"
As the British support team set up to the West of the house, German reinforcements put pressure on the para security, wiping out the sniper and mortar teams without breaking a sweat
John's Mountain troops roll up my left flank, but will they get to the cottage in time to save Herr Flick?
It was all down to Corporal ‘Squizzy’ Taylor’s third section.  Stepping over the still warm corpses of their brethren from No 1 section, Squizzy’s boys were able to put Herr Flick ‘into the bag’ before scarpering out the back door.  More Gebirgsjager appeared from the west, mopping up the para support elements, but Squizzy and his mean were able to move off sharpish before the German mountain troops could catch them.
"Right - lets try this again, shall we?"
"Home in time for tea and medals lads!"

"Unfortunately, this means the Russian Front for us Kommeraden..."

A fun and quick game – I was lucky to get away when I did, having taken more casualties than John but being in a better position to achieve the scenario objectives.  We were playing on a a slightly small table too (3.5 x 3.5) which likely helped me a bit too.  Really loving these small games for club night.  I think a small vehicle (recon jeep, motorcycle with sidecar and LMG) would be a great next step.

29 July 2017

Bolt Action Patrol Scenario - Rescue the General!

My second BA game this week was at our usual club/pub night, trying out a smaller 500 point Patrol scenario from OP SEALION (with a few adjustments).  After James’s Germans captured my Para General on Monday night (here), it was time to free him from his dreaded Gestapo interrogators!  And this time the Red Devils would face the Lions of Carentan; Vets on Vets…
Herr Flick and Helga interrogate the captured General Urquhart 
500 points gave a really different game to the larger games I am used to, and perfect for a more narrative focused club night.  I took a Lt, 3 x 6 man squads (each with a Bren and 4 SMGs, noting the smaller board), a Mdm Mortar and the free FO. 6 dice total.

So what happened in the game? Well…

Corporal “Spider” Webb quickly moved his team up into a commanding position behind a hedge near the captured General – one that he would hold throughout the game, soaking up a lot of enemy attention (and fire).  
Corporal Webb's team move up with verve and vigour
Then my forward observer muffed up his call for fire and my artillery dropped short, putting pins on most of my forward units (but no direct hits thank goodness) More happily, my Medium mortar ranged in quickly, crippling the enemy infantry squad. One of my Para infantry teams closed in to eliminate the remnants, only to be wiped out to a man when they failed all their attack rolls.  Oh dear!
This Red Devil assault did not end well for our heroes...
On my right flank Corporal “Tommy” Atkins got his team into an uneven fire fight against a larger Fallshirmjaeger squad and stood up to a hail of fire to keep a major portion of the enemy busy.  
Corporal "Squizzy" Taylor and his men  get stuck into the Bosche
When the Jerries got bored with that they went for the decisive action – charging the stubborn Corporal Webb’s position in the centre.  The Germans took some fire on the way in and were ultimately eliminated in the resulting close combat.
The Green Devils charge Corporal Webb's position and pay dearly
At this point my 1LT decided the time to win medals was upon him – with a hearty bellow of “Follow me Lads, its time to take Jerry a cup of tea” he leapt forward to save the General.  Unfortunately for him, Corporal Webb’s team FUBARed, mistook the movement on their left as the enemy, and poured a devastating volley of fire into the young officer.  Oops.
"Right Lads - up and at 'em!"

FUBAR! "Sorry Sir, we thought you was a Jerry..."
At this point the red faced Forward Observer decided he should do something and leapt forward  to secure the General.  However, he did so alone as both infantry teams next to him failed their activation rolls and decided instead to yell encouraging words as they brewed up behind the hedge.  Happily, the provision of hot tea went a long way to restoring the General’s morale once he was freed from Herr Flick. A British Victory and thanks Marty for a very enjoyable game!
"No thanks Sir, me and the lads are staying put!"
I really enjoyed the smaller Patrol game style as a change of pace. Apart from its speed (2 unhurried hours, including adult beverage breaks), the smaller game (on a 4 x 4 table) felt much more personal – every decision counted, every casualty hurt and each dice draw was important.  I really want to explore this more and am thinking of adapting some of the 40k “Kill Team” missions for this purpose.  With some specific formation requirements (eg no Heavy Tanks, no Heavy artillery etc) I think this has some legs. 

One final observation is that in a smaller game, the effects of good and bad die rolls are far more pronounced – the artillery dropping short, the mortar ranging in etc – that doesn’t just impact one of your squads, it cripples 1/3 to half of your units.  So you can blame Lady Luck with far more justification when the SNAFUs happen!

27 July 2017

BA "Sectors" Scenario

Not one but two games of BA2 this week – what a treat after a few weeks’ dry spell!  First up was a 1000 point game in Canberra with my tabletop buddy of 20+ years, Comrade James.  We played the Scenario 12 'Sectors' which was new to me and very interesting with lots of tactical decision making.
The imposing “Düsseldorf Triangle” - Hvy Mortar off to the right
I was up against James's infamous “Düsseldorf Triangle” list (aka “das Großen Käse”!), in which he fields a Heavy Mortar, a Nebelwerfer and the dreaded 88 (in 2 platoons).  He sets them up on his backline in a triangle with a LT in the centre of them – then he “snaps to action” the officer and fires all three heavy weapons as his first action of the turn.  Brutal!  He can also recrew between them as required to account for casualties.  Very interesting and rather daunting to face up to (I decided to leave my tanks in the box as a result!)
German Spotter (for the 88), and Veteran SS squad.

Noting the scenario scoring I reorganised my paras from their traditional 10 man sections to smaller, 5 man teams each with a Bren gun and 1 SMG, hoping this would give me more unit scoring options.  This worked well and the 5 man teams were relatively resilient (being vets) but 2 of them struggled on with only a single man left so perhaps 5 was too small.  I also tried a 5 man all SMG squad but sadly they got caught and wiped out before I could try them out in practice.
SS Veterans assault the British positions in the closing moments of the game

A very interesting see-saw game evolved.  With my own Light HOW and Mdm Mortar focusing on enemy infantry, I tried some unconventional counter battery fire against James’s big guns.  My sniper took out the 88 observer on turn 1 (doubling his career kill tally – well done that man!) and I rushed up and destroyed the Nebelwerfer in close combat.
Unconventional Counter Battery fire!

The final turn 6 saw me in a relatively good position after some lucky die rolls (like a squad brassing up a loaded halftrack at long range, destroying it , and killing 5 of the 6 occupants and routing the last chap) and ahead on VPs, but a Turn 7 then ensued.  James took me apart and it was only a lucky last activation of the game in which my sniper took out a German officer that made the game a draw. 
A pivotal end to the battle: Airborne General Urquhart pours hot tea on the cheeky SS blighters disturbing his elevenses, 
scalding one rather badly before the rest broke in and broke all the good china.
Lots of fun in a very dynamic scenario which I enjoyed and look forward to trying out again.  Thanks for the game Comrade! Bad luck on the draw; you definitely deserved a win after outplaying me throughout the evening.

23 July 2017

I did it again...

Yes I've done it again (see here).  I honestly went in just for a paint pot (the one perched precariously on the bog pile of awesome). But a 50% off sale? A man can only do so much...
Happily, mistakes were made...

06 July 2017

A quick game of BA

2 v 2 game down the pub - good fun!
Back from holidays just in time to catch up with the lads for a 4 player late war BA game.
This saw a German Heer and FSJ counterattack on a Brit Airborne and US Army position in a small village.
Having taken the town, the lads wait for the inevitable Jerry counterattack!
A fun, quick game introducing a new young player to the game (who did remarkably well too - good job!), it saw two notable events; the first time EVER that my sniper has taken out a target and the first time EVER that my medic has saved anyone.  And they have played in every game since I built the Army, so thats a lot of attempts! 'Bout time they started to pull their weight too I must say!
Cor blimey - they've got a Panzer! 
FSJ advance on the right flank in strength
Right lads, skip round behind the cottage sharpish!
Dont worry our tank'll take care of that mess, unless he misses (which he did twice!)
The game ended up in some nasty hand to hand in the big building, which saw the FSJ firmly in control by game end.  Lots of fun!

24 June 2017

Battlegroup goodness to look forward to

Its no secret that I am a bit of a BG fanboy, so you probably wont be surprised that these two upcoming releases have me rather excited!
Just announced - Cold War BG!
This will be in the smaller campaign style like BG Wacht am Rhein
In the meantime, I'm going to try out BG in 28mm - all my games have been 15mm thus far.  Going to try some BG Fall of the Reich using my Paras.  Right after I get back from a midyear break away, that is. Ciao!

13 June 2017

The Battle of Knackerville

Boys, Beers and Battle = Good times!
To celebrate the Queen's Birthday long weekend, Slowpainter John hosted a bunch of the club lads for a massed "toys on the table" game of Bolt Action.  The 4 x 8 foot table depicted the Alsatian town of Knackerville (famous for its horse retirement farm and unrelated but located next door sausage factory...), and its bridges over the Knacker River.  3 wiley German defenders would try to hold out a mixed Allied force of British Regulars, Brit Paras, and French. Reilly took command of my beloved Red Devils and all the recent additions from AHPC saw table action for the first time.
Western approach to Knackerville, through the horse stud and sausage factory. The River beyond is the Allied objective.
The Allies had some 40 order dice (!) to the Germans' 24, with the latter setting up hidden with a range of dummy markers.  To make matter worse, when Allied units first encountered one another, a d6 roll of 1 would see a case of mistaken identity and taking each other under fire.  To keep the action moving (and player involved), the game progressed by drawing lots of 4 dice and resolving the actions simultaneously.  Worked very well.

The Germans had clearly developed their defensive fire plan in detaill, accounting for the their uncanny ability to zero in their artillery and remove entire infantry sections in a salvo...Ouch!
Initial German artillery salvo - on target! a full section of British infantry was wiped out
"Ya! Ya! Gut job Hans - do it again!"
As you might expect it was a hard slog up the middle of the narrow table end.  And it make matters worse, with all those Allied units we had a real traffic jam on our hands too.  I put my new Sherman Firefly Assegai on a flank march up the left, while Reilly (remembering our game from CanCon, clever lad!) stuck two squads of Paras plus a FT and PIAT team flanking up the right.  Took a bit of patience but we held out and they proved rather key in the end.
A Panzerschreck team hidden in the ruins saw an end to the Churchill Minotaur, blocking the intersection
Para recon jeep locates a hidden PaK at the end of the road the hard way...
...enabling its neutralisation by off board artillery bombardment
A Para squad is destroyed by another deadly accurate salvo from the German gunners
Best on Ground for the day: Heer Artillery
The German rein of 6s and our continued spate of 1s was rather amazing.  In 6 turns our snipers never hit a thing, my medic failed every roll, and only a single artillery salvo hits its mark. C'est la guerre aplenty over 4 hours.  Then the game started to turn when the Luftwaffe appeared and mistook the rather unusual Panzerwerfer 42 Rocket launcher vehicle for an Allied threat.  The Me 262 rolled in and promptly removed it from the equation before it had fired.
BOOM! The Luftwaffe pilot earns himself a DSO!
4 turns in and our FT team dropped in, taking the Germans completely by surprise as they ran up to incinerate the squad in the building. Unfortunately, they rolled a 1 and missed.  They got the first activation in the next turn but mangled to fail their activation roll after getting a single pina nd were predictably eliminated.  The Germas thought that the flanking threat was over but then came a nasty surprise on the right as these chaps arrived - 5 feet up the 8 foot table!
Surprise Fritz!
Memorable moments - the time that PIAT actually brewed something up!
Meanwhile, over on the left flank the appearance of the German heavy armour made the Firefly's debut timely - Assegai rolled in and dispatched the first one with a nice rear armour shot!
"Scratch one Panzer Jim!"

The next turn the Pz IV spun round and the two tanks engaged one another but missed.  However, the French Char B1 saw his chance and rolled in for a stern shot on the Pz IV - Kill!

At the same time the second Churchill, Medusa, tried to overrun the Panzerschreck team that had dispatched Minotaur, resulting in mutual destruction.  It was a bad day to be a tanker on any side really!

At this point, the German position was untenable though they had extracted a heavy price for the Allied advance - a draw was naturally called!  It was a cracking day made possible by the hospitality of John and his lovely wife with great lunch, dinner, snacks, beers, endless coffees and wonderful camaraderie.  Thanks very much!
Kampfgruppe Kommandants (and Umpire with dice bag!)