Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Defense of Rastiland!

'We're going to defend Rastiland?!?! The dinosaur-themed adventure park?!?!?'
'You've GOT to be kidding!!!'

Soviet intercept of conversation  among British troops serving in the British Army of the Rhine.

And so it was, after getting bludgeoned at the battle of Schloss Marienburg, and then utterly failing to stem the Soviet advance across the river Leine at Teufelsberg (see earlier posts), NATO finally managed to stop the red army. At Rastiland, of all places.

In game terms, I was just looking for somewhere west of Teufelsberg where we could hold the next round of the Soviet invasion of Germany. Given the poor record of defense from the Germans in the prior two games (with relatively reduced assets, as they were fighting the commie hordes), I was looking at a more balanced game. That would require British assistance, as I simply hadn't got enough German troops to muster more than 5000 points or so.

The grande vision of 8000-9000 points per side was whittled down upon realization that would be tough to fit into one day, especially since we were both a bit rusty with the rules. I was going to go for 6000, and tried, but then to get all the fun toys on the table really couldn't get it less than 7000, even a little higher. And that left one of the Phantoms out of the game.

I was worried that Howard would arrive with 6000 points, and the game wouldn't be quite so balanced, and was relieved to hear afterward that he also had a little over 7000...

Home rules we decided to play were, since the Germans were on the run, they would have supply problems. On a roll of 1-2 on a d10 they would be out of supply (marked with a token), and unable to move or shoot until resupplied (a supply truck, only 1!, makes base-base contact for 1 turn). This would have little impact on the game.

To simulate command/control problems among allies, if any British or German unit strayed into the others zone of control (just drawing line to line among units), then both commands would suffer a -1 penalty on command throws. Doubling the chances of a command blunder (not statistically, given 2 d6), and eliminating the chance of a command bonus. This would be irrelevant for the game as keeping British and German units separate was not an issue at all.

The game began with a tie over control of the skies, which would be important as it cancelled out an airstrike from howard and negate 
any p
ossible NATO airstrikes. Howard advanced onto the table, well actually he laid everything nicely out on the table to organize it first, and then advanced on with his mobile infantry quickly occupying the town of Mehle (far right corner from NATO) and his armor coming on along the edge of the hilled woods. That deployment would be very interesting later in the game!

Howard lays the commies out on the table. German Leopards behind the hedge in front of the picture on left.

A slightly better view of the commies.
The NATO defense was set with the German Leopards in a hedge between Rastiland and Sehlde, and the infantry occuppying Sehlde. Actually, it was their Marder carriers occuppying Sehlde, with the infantry behind the town awaiting an airlift to be dropped somewhere up the table. Like next to the wooded hills, by the dirt road. Right in front of where the Soviet armor had deployed...!

My assumption was the Soviets would have moved from the back edge of the table, at least by turn 3 when the German air assault went in. Little did I know -

The German defense obviously left most of their left side of the table open, but that was for the British to handle, rushing in to fill the gaps as they were intended. Their armor would occupy Rastiland (it wasn't intended to be an actually defensible position, rather just a silly spot on the table, but it worked!)

That left the far left of the NATO lines open, but the British still had their infantry (no carriers, arriving by helicopter). I decided with the better command values for the British that they could choose to air assault into a location as needed, the far left, or hopefully somewhere more useful.

The Soviets started with a couple of Hind attacks on the Leopards, firing through the hedges, before the Leopards have been softened up by anything.

The Leopards were unfazed, but started to feel the heat once the Soviet armor opened up from the woods on the left (coloured smoke representing suppression, not so bad in itself, the Soviet armor on the edge of the wooded hills in the back).

The British get to move, and the air assault goes in on the left, very well masked from the Soviet armor. And also not too far, and conveniently right next to the Soviet forward air controller! (The little jeep on the right of the mess in the woods, ignore the helicopters in the back, they weren't part of the game. Or would they be???)

NATO didn't have much else to do, well anything else to do in the first turn. So over to the commies. Who come in with another Hind attack, this time looking for something easier than Leopards in cover. The problem being, the Germans didn't want to expose anything else before assistance arrived from the British. There were troops occupying Sehlde, but they were to the rear, the infantry actually behind the town, their carriers in the town but off the front edge. Leaving only the forward air controller and forward artillery observer...

Focus on the German defense in Sehlde. The FAO and FAC in the corner of the town closest to the Hinds and also a Frogfoot...

The Hind strike goes in -
There was also supposed to be an airstrike from a Frogfoot, but things got weird, as we found in the rules that even scheduled airstrikes (everything being scheduled so far) were supposed to roll for deviation from the FAC. The FAC was quite far away (next to where the British air assault had just gone in...!), so that meant quite a bit of deviation, putting the Frogfoot off target to the west, the bombs falling on an empty field and the Frogfoot exposed to quite a bit of antiaircraft fire from surrounding hq units and also the German Roland SAM... which all missed of course.

A following scheduled artillery strike on Sehlde didn't miss, however, with quite telling results on the Marders in town! Note the Frogfoot in the background, after (before?) missing his airstrike target.

The black smoke representing units killed. There wasn't much, if anything, left after the artillery strike...
NATO still didn't have much to do, aside from...

The German Stallions show up to pick up their cargo. Everyone being glad they were behind and not in Sehlde!
The Hinds return for another attack on the Leopards. This time, from the flank, rather than front on through the hedges. Combined with the Soviet armor shooting, it was getting pretty hot for the only bit left of the German defense! That said, I forgot the prior turn the British did manage to call an artillery strike on the Soviet infantry and transports occupying Mehle, and add direct fire from the Challengers which had shown up and taken position in Rastiland. Soviet casualties in Mehle in the back...
Things were really hotting up now. The Germans were almost completely wiped out, with little to show for it again, while the British were only just showing up. But show up they did! Artillery was called in against the infantry in Mehle the previous turn (forgot to add that...), while their infantry quickly moved into the woods, overran the commie FAC, and moved on to start close assaulting the Soviet armour.

The next turn put the onus on the Soviet armour. They were facing infantry in woods. Worse, much worse, the Soviet tanks had formed a line along the edge of the woods, which the British had taken in flank. So all the British infantry (as many as could get into the battle), taking on one commie tank at a time. It got ugly quickly...

That's a lot of smoke all over the Soviet tanks... From behind the British infantry. Smoke in the foreground mostly British hits and suppressions on Soviet tanks (a little, but only a little going the other way). Smoke in the background a plotted artillery strike to mask - the German air assault!

At the same time, the airlifted German infantry went in for their planned assault, right in front of the Soviet tanks! They had the benefit of a smokescreen, but still, there were 3-4 tanks taking easy potshots at the Stallions landing right in front of them. 1 Stallion immediately knocked out, the other suppressed, although it managed to disembark its troops, also suppressed.

The German air assault. Most of the smoke is the artillery plotted to screen the helicopters landing. Except for the one black smoke in front of the Stallion in front. That landing didn't go so well... No survivors -

Back along the heart of the British defense in Rastiland...

There are Challengers and Swingfires in there. Mortars behind too...
That was pretty much the game. 5 hours or so later, not really stopping for dinner (I boiled a couple of the frozen fresh pasta things. Frozen fresh? but excellent for a situation like this. Drop them into boiling water, and 5 minutes later you have food!)

It wasn't quite decided. The Soviets still had a decent number of tanks left, and some infantry. Unwisely, as the British infantry started to work its way through the Soviet armor, the Soviets decided to mount up their infantry which had been holing up in Mehle, and drive down to try and take Sehlde. Or just advance, or do something.

That was a bad move, as the Lynx were called in, the mortars were called in, the Challengers were opened up, and artillery was called in. I don't remember if quite all those assets were utilized, but what was left of the Mehle brigade, after the artillery bombardment it suffered earlier in the game, quickly dissolved.

That left quite a bit of Soviet armour, against a bit of British infantry, British armour, and possibly half the German infantry (if they would have been able to do anything once the smokescreen disappeared). At the least, NATO, on its third try, finally managed to stall the Soviet advance.

Extra models for eye candy. Newly painted up Hips

And a fencer

Actually, Howard had planned an air assault using the Hips, to come in somewhere around Esbeck I assume. Had the game carried on further... I don't believe that infantry would have been heavily armed (so I think I recall Howard mentioning), and they would have faced relatively fresh and untouched British forces, despite the healthy bit of action they saw...

Monday, July 24, 2017

first play of saga in at least a year

Not much to say about the game. They were brawls, as Saga games tend to be. Special welcome to Tim, new to the club and reasonably new to gaming in general I believe. I was winning (possibly?) overall, but in our two quick games he killed my warlord both times. Bit of a bummer then if you're the warlord!

Not much to say about the games themselves. No real tactics stood out, almost. 1 thing, I reminded myself that I don't have any (many) spearmen. For an anglo-saxon army?

The only real tactic played during the game was when Tim lined up his archer levy to try and enfilade my troops as they came around the woods. Which meant he exposed their flank to my troops, so I sent a unit of axe-wielding hearthgard through the woods to hit them in the flank. Otherwise, it was mostly me struggling to remember the rules, and Tim politely waiting as I did so...

Pictures for eye candy purposes, don't think I can remember most of where they belong in the two games. I do like the vignettes of Harold Godwinson taking care of his enemies though!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Second run of Horizon Wars

Gary and I played another game of Horizon Wars last night. Reduced the size a little, to 15 points, to make it more managable for an evening game. Also played the reconnaissance mission, which further reduced Gary's force, I think by 3 points, which equated to him taking off 1 heavy tank.

Tyson's Furies! Well most of them at least. Infantry hidden to the rear. Also the large and medium transports in the back were just there for show. To intimidate the enemy of course!
It was a good game, ran about 2 hours, still slowed down a little by my not being entirely familiar with the rules and especially aircraft and scenario rules. I should give them a closer look for next time!

Important lessons; aircraft can be very brittle. Any aircraft with any value needs at least 3 armour. Consider that criticals count twice on aircraft, at shooter's choosing, so assuming both are pinned to armour destroys a 2 armour aircraft.

As we played the recon mission, I was the defender, which -- importantly! -- meant I got to keep all my pieces. (I wanted to play with all my new toys!) And yes, getting the models out on the table matters much more than any thought of tactics or strategy!

Gary's home-made chemicals factory and adjacent toxic waste pond. We played it as dissolve upon entry! Really, Gary is doing some great work with home-made urban terrain -
The recon mission details that the attacker (the recon) is limited with how many units he can bring on at the start and for each turn of the game. As the defender I had a similar limit, but much less so. I did decide to mostly abide by the limited introduction of units, however, as I could place them in various selected spots of my choosing during the game -- having chosen the spots before the game and then announcing which spots they would come in as Gary brought his troops on. It seemed a much more appropriate and faster way to engage his troops, rather than start from my back table edge (which I did at the end of the last turn, but with triple move for aircraft who cares?!?!)

In the end, neither of us won. In theory I might have, as I might have been able to clean up Gary's force once I finally destroyed his hq, which I very luckily did with the very last throw of the dice for the game. 

But it's a maybe to that. In fact, in the spirit of the game, I think it would be much better to say Gary actually won. He would have if I didn't get a very lucky last roll for the game, and, even more importantly, if he didn't remind me of his victory condition to have all or most his starting units on the table once i had all my advance force on the table. 
Thanks Gary!

Other observations - the lucky dice cup was much more average this time than my first engagement. Pooh. Gary's defense die rolling, however, was very strong, canceling many of my would-be hits. This was critical as his HQ, a heavy tank, with spotting ability for his artillery, proved a tough - almost impossible - nut to crack.

The first of Gary's many strong defense rolls, his 11 knocking out my 11 and so canceling what I think was a long-d

I wanted to be sure to take his HQ tank out so my troops didn't keep getting blasted by artillery, but it took all game (approximately 4 turns I think) with all of my units firing on it, till the end of the game, to finally kill it. It's very arguable, maybe obvious, that I should have sacrificed getting hit by Gary's artillery to make sure I killed other units of his. Perhaps, but I'm not convinced that was the right move. Although, assuming Gary was reconnoitering for a superior reserve force, then my objective would have been to stay hidden and my tactics would have been faulty.

My landspeeder (light cav) shooting at Gary's tanks. A single 1 wasn't going to get it very far!

My attack aircraft make an appearance

Gary shoots down one of the attack aircraft in its first engagement! Brittle they prove!

No distinction between soft cover and hard cover for woods. Deploying my heavy tanks in the woods for a +3 cover bonus would have been, and was tough, on Gary for trying to hit them.

I'm still not clear on disembarking airborne troops. And, now that we've begun to use aircraft, mine were rotary, which means they can hover, but how does that effect movement and especially altitude changes? That's not addressed in the rules, which otherwise state for aircraft generally rules for 1 or 2 step altitude changes, assuming forward/turning movement etc. But if a rotary aircraft can hover, then it should also be able to change altitude more easily?

My airborne troops arrive to save the day! Literally! They fly in from my table edge, land in the crater, disembark their troops, who then spend their next action to scoot and shoot Gary's HQ tank. Both score hits from almost point blank, and the die roll shows the luck on the second! I needed a 5 to hit, with a single 5 (the kill) backed up by 2 1's! Talk about cutting it close!

the unfortunate history of tyson's furies

Why Tyson's Furies?

Or the whole Major Mike Tyson thing?

Well, this is the internet, and we are talking about thumb-sized science fiction miniature wargaming. So the rule as it seems to be tends toward the ridiculous.
I am a Mike, one of the 2,351,691,914 or so on the planet (I completely made that number up...)
So I needed something to go with Mike, a name for what will hopefully be a hard hitting series of little miniatures campaigns, not just science fiction although that is the current flavor.

As I am a child of the 80s, who could possibly provide better inspiration than Mike Tyson? Remember by definition we are talking about the ridiculous. I make no pretense as to defending Mike Tyson as an individual etc or admiring him as a person.

Imagine my further entertainment after reflecting on Tyson Fury. Talk about colorful characters! Again, no comment regarding him as an individual.

That's the background for the naming of Tyson's Furies.

But wait, there is further color to this story, literally.

As I'm painting up my latest batch of minis, basically aircraft (transports and attack aircraft) and a few mechs, with a couple of wheeled armored command vehicles thrown in, I wanted to go for a very neutral color scheme. Think camouflage, so olive drab or what have you. Except in the sci fi realm, we have no idea where these troops will be showing up. What planet? what part of what planet?

Grey seemed the best solution. suitably drab no matter where they land. preferably a darker grey, but not so far as charcoal/slate. I found that color and was very happy with it - field gray.

Heaven forbid but after painting them up, I learned the Tamiya field gray I was using was basically German gray during the war. So as a Jewish guy I've just painted up my sci fi minis in German field gray from the war. Not appropriate at all!

I did try to minimize the field gray on some of the minis after the horrible realization, by painting over them with a lighter gray. 2-color scheme camouflage. I think that works reasonably well, at least until someone points out matching patterns of German armor from the war!

Other notes re the minis. The large freighter (had been intended as an airborne command vehicle, like an AWACS, but apparently not allowed in Horizon Wars), the Kirin combat walkers (not pictured at present but likely to surface in future games), and strike fighter (not picture at present) are from Brigade models. Very happy with the level of detail and design of these minis.

The rest of the minis, at least the aircraft, are from ground zero games. The AV9 VTOL gunship, and troop/medium transports.

The cockpit glass is black with a little silver/metal mixed in to give a shine effect. it looked really good after painting, but the dull/flat coat i sprayed has toned it down too much. Gary liked it though! And the engine exhaust from the large freighter/airborne command is orange (actually yellow and red mixed) with a little bronze thrown in. I thought the bronze effect would add nicely to the color mix, but also again give it a little metallic shine like the glow of an engine. pretty pleased with that i was.

Note the color coding, little flashes of color discreetly painted on to panels of any duplicate models. As there is some amount of record keeping for Horizon Wars, I wanted a way to tell the individual models apart. Hence now I can actually have a "gold leader" leading my attack wing for science fiction minis!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

horizon wars first game experience

sadly it's almost a month later after playing, but finally i'm getting this post up with my report of the battle and the photos. the report is geared heavily toward my experience, but then I'M WRITING IT! and i was buy learning the rules, so not concentrating on how badly gary felt while i was pasting him... (hint to the serious good luck of the magic die cup!)

First turn 2 of 3 of my airborne units try scooting up my right flank

Gary shot down the first unit.

I think I then brought a p1 mechanical or perhaps a land speeder on.
Gary brought up infantry and mechs to support. To counter my air assault and go for the table objective, the high rise at the centre of the table.
2nd turn, finished my air assault. more of the same from Gary.
Worried a little about giving up the objective so easily. But let's see how the game plays is most important.
My transport aircraft have disembarked their troops and ​are on to making a pain in the arse out of themselves. Flaw in rules? (the rules suggest transport aircraft will be carefully used. mine were until they dropped off their passengers, and were then used very egregiously!)
I was worried about not having my mechs or my tanks on yet. Expensive and heavy firepower not being used. Not being used before it's too late? 
Gary had his stuff on the table. Or his artillery was off table but still effective.
A few turns into the game and my p1 mech and land speeder have arrived in the middle of the table and combined to kill Gary's hq!

Apparently infantry dies if you get a critical hit. This would be a big recurring theme during the game (at gary's expense!). I also managed to kill his recon unit on the right too.
Next turn, or 2 later, I i killed his infantry holding the objective. Another critical hit! The dice cup is starting to glow with magic!
My recon deep deploy on the opposite end of the table (left side) from my airborne infantry. Opposite what I expected (i had intended them to deploy with the airborne infantry for protection), but the airborne were taking stiff resistance and I wanted the recon to survive to call in heavy fire from my p3 mech. 
I had also talked up deploying the recon with the airborne for at least 1 turn, leaving me starting to feel like they should come on somewhere else gary might be less prepared for...

The recon deployed behind a hill in gary's rear, on the far side, to protect them from getting shot upon landing. that also meant they weren't in a good spot to perform their job function (spotting), at least without suffering heavy incoming for it. So they boogied over the hill into the nearest high rise.
My tanks and heavy mech were finally on the table. But too far away to be useful?
The heavy mech started first. Indirect fire directed by the recon unit. Miss. Direct fire. Also a miss. Should have been able to put a good hurt on Gary's artillery which he had brought on table for lack of clear targets (or my killing his spotting units? i don't remember...) 
The heavy mech didn't do much the next turn either. Disappointing. Think it was bad luck with the dice, despite having otherwise tremendous luck with the magic dice cup.
Tanks moved up next. Maybe effective, but not really used enough to know. 
End of game left Gary with little if any infantry, but 2 P2 mechs, all his artillery, and his p3 mech. 
I had 4 tanks, 2 p1 mechs, and my p3 mech. 

Judged in my favor. I should have been able to kill his artillery. With indirect fire from my mech, or direct fire from the mech or the tanks. His p2 mechs were a problem. But outnumbered by my tanks. And I had indirect fire from the p3 mech to call on if needed. Assuming it didn't take long to wipe out his artillery. His p3 mech presumably cancelled out mine. Although I still had the advantage of indirect fire on my p3 mech.

apologies for the pictures, they seem to lack oomph and maybe a bit distant. yes this is micro scale! but my cwc commander pictures seem to come out better. i will probably try using our pocket camera and tripod, but even then most of my cwc pictures are from the camera phone.

Thoughts about the game?

Lots of fun. It plays well, reasonably fast paced. took a while, we started playing i think 4:30ish, went till 9:00ish. only a couple of potty breaks. we used large forces - 20 points. but that gave a proper combined arms experience - tanks, infantry, mechs, and transport (gary had at least one ground transport instead of air transport). look forward to playing again.

rules observations and queries:
disembarking airborne troops wasn't entirely clear. can the aircraft land, disembark, and the troops move all in the same turn? we played it over 2 turns, i don't remember the exact order. think it was landing, then disembarking and moving the next turn.

the freedom of the transport aircraft to fly around and make a pain in the arse out of themselves had entertainment value, but did seem to violate the spirit of the rules which as mentioned suggest they should have left the table. this deserves further explanation; the aircraft were lightly armed, with only 1 attack die, which is what they were meant to represent (think a transport helo with a door gunner rather than an attack helo with some troop carrying ability like a hind...)
so there was a limit as to how effective they could really be. that said, they still got some good shots in (magic dice cup to the rescue!), and so presented gary with a pressing need to shoot them down. which meant distracting his fire from my other stronger units.

artillery is punchy. i didn't have any, but i did worry about what gary had, since i couldn't hit any of it while it was off table. that said, i still appeared to come out stronger in the end, albeit not decisively.

infantry is tough, but brittle. takes a lot of hits to kill them. or, 1 lucky critical hit where you can reduce their armor stat. fortunately for me, the lucky dice cup rolled quite a few critical hits!
that leaves a question as to whether infantry should occupy an objective, which is traditionally their job. not clear what else would be better, however, except from probably a mech. but mechs are expensive toys to squander on occupying objectives.

cover rules were strange. we played anything could take cover and benefit, which maybe is a little excessive? but then i remember the rules weren't quite so generous (we may have played a house rule? it was almost 1 month ago)

action tokens of some sort are strongly suggested. i bought these at £4.50 each, could easily have used more for our 40 point game (20 points each side). we also used smoke (painted cotton) for kills.

4Ground Marker Light/Lock On Token Set (Blue)MG-TAM-148B1£4.50£4.50
4Ground Marker Light/Lock On Token Set (Green)MG-TAM-148G1£4.50£4.50
a spreadsheet for your army is strongly suggested, as there is record keeping. the record keeping doesn't detract from game play if you set up a spread sheet. but i hadn't done mine quite right - the columns were justified left i think, whereas the headers weren't, which made it difficult (not really, less easy) to do the record keeping as it wasn't quite as easy to see what belonged where.

i messed up the aircraft design somehow, not figuring the allocation points right. don't think it made a big difference, but maybe, and git gives gary an excuse to argue otherwise!

freedom of army design: i haven't played any other scifi games. aside from 40k years ago. so the freedom of design is both very novel, and also works well i think. it does introduce record keeping, but i don't think this will be a significant drawback (and i abhor record keeping for tabletop games).
a few questions about the rules, however. 1, recon is limited to infantry. what about other sorts of recon units? my old epic troops (never used before this hw game!) include recon bikes and lightly armed land speeder type things, which i also would have intended for recon. but they don't seem to be allowed (infantry only). so instead i just made the speeders light cav, which played a decent role in the game (see above, including the pictures). but would have preferred them as recon.

i remember questioning what exactly mobile infantry was. something like regular infantry (at least as that's between light infantry and heavy infantry), which can mount up on transports (but distinct from airborne infantry, which tend to be airborne...)
to me, all that means is they lose the benefits of the other infantry classes, but i don't really see the offsetting advantage. i mean, all the other classes can mount up too (but can't drop from the sky like airborne, although this didn't stop me from loading my heavies onto air transport and landing them...)

i have significant amounts of airborne transports and attack aircraft, both vtol types (think avatar) and a more traditional fighter (something that might be star wars or battlestar galactica, but isn't).

look forward to getting them all out on the table again!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

brussels defense museum

very pleasant little find. light on the armour, from what i saw, but good collection of aircraft, all in a good state. wwi up to the present, or at least the cold ward.