Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Miniature Musings - Sci-Fi Wargames

So, once again comes the middle of the week, and I have nothing to show for it - an article covering how I glued some miniatures to pennies does not an interesting article make. And at first I had written an article about painting miniatures, and to be honest it was pretty terrible. So I tossed that out the window as well.

Which, of course, now leaves with me a big 'ol blank space where my update used to be. So, instead, I'll do a little thinking out loud about some wargames I want to play.

To preface, right now the games I 'play' (i.e., actually put down on the table and have games with) would really only be Flames of War, with a little This Very Ground on the side, which will hopefully change now that I have larger forces for TVG. And while I do have miniatures for other games (Infinity, Full Thrust, and FFT3, to be exact), I really don't 'play' those on any sort of regular, or even irregular, basis. Which is a same, especially since I have two ready to go fleets for Full Thrust.

Maybe this weekend?

Anyway, here's the thing - as much as I like the historical games I'm getting in, I'm still a Sci-Fi kind of guy. I like grav-tanks, and mechs, and starships. And now there are several that have caught my attention.

Now, I like tanks. A lot. They're pretty damn cool when you get down to it. As I said in an earlier post, 'Hammer's Slammers: The Crucible' looked to be a pretty cool game that, lo and behold, had an emphasis on futuristic armored warfare. Fanfare and trumpets.

But now there are a couple other games that I see competing for my attention. Because, simply put, if there's anything I like more than tanks, it's mechs. Battletech sort of scratched that itch for a while, but the rules were a bit too clunky and un-intuitive, and the mechs are far too reminiscent of the 1980s for my 'modern' eyes.

Paulson Games' Mecha Front, however, does mechs right in my eyes - especially since they're more 'western' in style. You know, they don't look like big people in armor with separate guns and swords.

It seems to be a skirmish-esque game in 15mm, so each of the medium sized mechs are going to be about the size of a Warmachine Warjack.

Supposedly there will also be rules for infantry and armor, so that's pretty cool.

The other game I've got my eye on is the upcoming Robotech Tactics. Robotech was one of the first anime series I watched, and was the first that I really enjoyed watching. Now these are 'eastern' style mecha, with humanoid shapes that TRANSFORM from giant robot to frickin' jet fighters!

And, of course, we have the more conventional looking Destroids, and there should also be Zentradi battlesuits there as well.

So, yeah. Two mecha games on the exact opposite ends of the aesthetics spectrum, and I want them both. Go figure.

Now, going away from the big robots (well, sort of), there's also Dropzone Commander, a 10mm game that focuses on, you probably guessed it, dropships. With your average tank moving only 4" or so a turn (apparently), dropships are a necessity in moving around the table in any sort of reasonable time (except for one faction which apparently uses teleportation to move troops around.

The factions seem pretty cool, and the rules have been pretty well touted. The only problem is that the miniatures are described by the producer as 'premium' products so... they're kinda expensive. Especially for 10mm miniatures.

So, what will I do? Probably agonize over a decision and decide, eventually. Do I want an army-scale, mixed force style game? Or do I want mechs? And if so, do I go eastern, or western? Decisions, decisions, decisions!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Armored Clash - Flames of War AAR

Curt and I had another game of FoW over the weekend. It was a relatively silly one - neither one of us took 'balanced' list, instead opting for fitting as much of what armor we own on the table. For myself, that meant plenty of Cromwells and Challengers; for Curt, it meant Tigers and StuGs. And that Magnificent Bastard, Otto Carius. Or, since this is a fight on the Western Front, some alternate personality - his distant cousin, Grotto Barius?

I'm going to have to convince him to use some of my Panzer IV H's and Grenadiers. Eventually.

Anywho, we set the table up, decided that we wanted a simple head-to-head fight, and then slugged it out.

The fight went back and forth, with both sides starting with long-ranged shots. The +1 to armor at shots over 16", my ability to use semi-indirect fire (as long as my tanks didn't move), and the fact that my tanks were all Trained as opposed to Curt's Veterans, meant that my Challengers would be staying back in the woods and acting as my artillery for the game. A single platoon of American paratroopers would hang back and protect an objective on my side (i.e., do nothing). My Cromwells, then, with their light tank mobility, would then try to close and flank the Tigers.

Curt's Tigers, on the other hand, had a longer range, much higher armor, were Veteran rated, and had Tiger Ace skills. So a prolonged firefight with them would turn out the worse for me, even with the AT 15 guns of the Challengers.

Unfortunately, this lead to a mad dash by the Brits to try and at least Bail as many Tigers as possible. Amazingly, it seemed to work out, until the Germans rallied and promptly blew apart the British tanks.With all 3 of my combat platoons wiped out, the Paratroopers and remaining Jalopies (who were useless in this game) decided to make a tactical retreat. And so, victory went to the Germans with a 5-2 win.

The table and terrain.

British deployment.

German deployment.

Can you say, "Miracle Shot"?

The Germans get back an eye for an eye.

Please stay bailed, please stay bailed...

Well, it's working out so far!

Ready, aim... and miss.

That Tiger's got teeth!

"Blimey, sir. We're in trouble now!"

At least another Tiger falls before the end.

Just one shot left.

But it wasn't enough.

And that's the game!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Painting Update - Warmachine, FIW, WWII

It's been another one of those weeks were I haven't gotten much painting or gaming in. Or any at all, really.

So, it's going to be another picture update, with some quick iPhone masterpieces I snapped of my work area. Enjoy!

I was asked by a local comic/game store to paint up some of their miniatures while their main guy is on deployment. I've been trying my best (28mm isn't exactly my scale of choice), and I've gotten enough compliments that I'm beginning to think I'm actually good at painting miniatures. Strange. I'll have the rest of what I've painted up later. 

These are the 15mm French Militia from Blue Moon/Old Glory I've been working on for my French & Indian War project.

 And, of course, it can't be much of a French & Indian War without any actual, you know, Indians.

Here we've got the last bit of 15mm British armor I'm working on. Here's what I've painted recently...

...and here's what still needs to be painted.

Some individually based 15mm British infantry. I may or may not use these for Battlegroup: Overlord, since apparently I can use my already painted, multi-based infantry.

And to round it all off, 6mm Modern tanks, IFVs, and infantry for a demo game of the light version of 'A Fistful of TOWs 3'.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Water Under the Bridge - Battle Group Kursk AAR

Yup, another set of rules to play.

It does seem like I get around a lot, doesn't it?

I had my first taste of Battlegroup: Kursk over the past weekend. Having only played Flames of War before (and only on the Western Front in Normandy), displacing myself not only in time and place, but in rulesets as well, made for quite the shock. And not an unpleasant one, at that. It was also the first time playing for two other people there, so the newb-to-knowledgeable ration was a bit off!

I'm not going to review the rules, by the way - not in any sort of detail. Maybe some small observations here and there, but I certainly haven't been in this hobby long enough to really judge anyone's rules. You can find a great review here, however, and my thoughts on the rules are very much the same.

Ken, our host, dauntlessly led us through the game, throwing useful tactical advice to us new players (and especially to the Soviet commanders - it wasn't as though the Germans needed any advice!)

The scenario was thus: A group of German armor and mechanized infantry were to defend a bridgehead over a small, yet apparently frustratingly difficult to cross with anything but German tanks, river. The Soviet force, consisting of armor, tank riders, and regular infantry, were to assault the village the Germans had dug into, smash the Germans apart, and take the bridgehead. Piece of tea cake, right?

Wrong. So very, very wrong. 

You can never have too many Russians. 

The game began with the Soviets deploying some T-34's with tank riders, a SU-76, and a T-70, who's main job would be to secure the objective as quickly as possible (and force the Germans to take a chit). Starting with only 5 units on the table was slightly worrying.

The Germans started in the town, with a quartet of StuGs, a Panzer IV, and two recon cars. 

The game began with the Soviets rushing forward, tank riders holding on for dear life as the T-34s make a made dash for the village. The SU-76 crawls forward, and the T-70 makes it to the objective.

Long-range potshots are taken, and the Soviets manage to knock out a StuG.

This is were things started to go wrong. Thanks to a ... rules misunderstanding, the Germans were rolling THREE times as many dice for their off-board artillery. This decimated the poor tanks and tank riders who were relatively unprotected in the open fields, and the attack on their side quickly bogged down. At one point, the Germans managed to pin that entire side, leading to an overabundance of unusable orders. This was eventually corrected, but it definitely hurt. Those German's had some real savvy artillerymen that day.

Now, take that last bit and repeat it, and you'll have our game. The dice totally failed me on this occasion, meaning that our reinforcements trickled in, we never had enough orders, and my tanks couldn't hit anything to save their lives (literally!). We were forced to take chit after chit to keep our units unpinned - thank goodness we had such a high battle rating.

The game ended after a failed assault on the town - the Soviets never made it further than the hill and the initial row of houses, although we did manage to give the Germans a semi-bloody nose. Besides, there are plenty more brave Russian soldiers to throw into the fight!

I'd definitely play again, and now I'm eyeing up the PSC bundles for a small German force in 20mm.

And here's the rest of the pictures taken. I didn't exactly get the whole game, as it eventually got to the point where my entire attention was on the game itself!

With the danger of the open fields, I had the infantry come on and move for the woods.

Unfortunately, Stal! Stal! Stal!...

Quickly became "Stall, Stall, Stall!"

The Germans have how many unit?!

A lone T-34 made a dash for the cover of the village.

And it's quickly joined by other elements of the Soviet battlegroup.

Can you guess how much we hated that recon car?

Enough to send a platoon of tanks after it!

But it just wouldn't die!

The Soviets ready themselves to assault the village.

Stal! Stal! Stal! actually works for once.

And a risky gambit...

Turns into a small, personal victory.