Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Painting Update - SAGA

I've been continuing to work on my SAGA project, which involves completing six point warbands for the four factions in the original rulebook. The Vikings and Anglo-Danes have been completed, and I've got a couple more points of cavalry to finish for the Normans. I recently completed the Welsh warband I had assembled.

The Warlord is a great model, with plenty of motion and character.

I painted the muscular cuirass as though it were leather, which offsets nicely with the silver, green and red of the rest of the miniature.

Two points of the warband are made up of Hearthguard. I decided I wanted to have a unifying theme around the elites in this warband, and so I painted each of their cloaks/capes red.

You might also notice that they're lacking in shields. This is a visual indication of the weaker armor saves that javelin-armed units have.

Half of the warband is made up of Warrior units. Alex demonstrated in our games how deadly twelve-strong units can be in a Welsh warband, so I thought I'd try to have enough warriors to fill out two units of twelve.

Again, may of the models in these units lack shields, indicating their javelin-influenced armor saves. These shields are also lacking in ornamentation, which is what several sources led me to believe Welsh shields were actually painted like.

You might also notice that the hafts of the javelins are painted a different color than those of the spears in other factions. Again, this is a visual indicator that these are actually javelins and not spears, in case the shorter length isn't clear.

The last unit in the warband is a group of bow-armed levy. It may have been a better idea to have them equipped with javelins - especially since the Welsh Battleboard abilities center around the 'shoot-and-scoot' mentality of the faction - but I thought a half-decent stand off unit might be good to have.

And that's the Welsh! Hopefully I can complete the Normans soon. They're actually going to be a little over the goal of six points. I picked up a couple extra cavalry units, so they'll be eight points when I finish.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A Skirmish in Normandy - Flames of War AAR

The last time time Curt and I played Flame of War was all the way back in July, 2013. Deciding it's been too long since our miniatures saw the table, Curt asked if we could play a game, and I agreed, especially since I wanted a chance to use the buildings I recently bought from Mk IV Miniatures. 

The table set up saw a large crop field and hedgerows on one side, and a forest on the other. A large stream flowed across the width of the table, and a small farming village was placed in the middle of the table. Kudos to Curt for putting out the terrain. 

Curt brought his trusty paratroopers:
Fallschirmjägerkompanie HQ
Fallschirmjäger Platoon
Fallschirmjäger Platoon
Fallschirmjäger Anti-tank Gun Platoon (PaK40s)
Fallschirmjäger Mortar Platoon
Heavy Tank Platoon (Tigers)

While I brought out my British rifles:
Rifle Company HQ
CSM Stan Hollis, VC 
Rifle Platoon
Rifle Platoon
Carrier Platoon 
Anti-tank Platoon (6 pdr)
Mortar Platoon 
Machine-gun Platoon 
Independent Armoured Platoon 
Independent Armoured Platoon 

I deployed my British in a line across the table, with an infantry platoon and both HQ elements in front of the one German objective, and the 6 pdrs covering the others. On the far flank, I planned to have my one tank platoon move through the woods, while the other tank and infantry platoon were on the other flank and ready to advance through the fields. My mortars sat back in a hedgerow corner (in what I thought was relative safety), next to my machine gun platoon. The more observant of you will probably realize that I completely forgot to deploy my Carrier Platoon. D'oh!

Curt deployed his PaK40s to cover the forest approach, while his two big platoons of paratroopers made ready to dash towards the farm buildings. His mortars deployed much like mine, safe behind the hedgerows, with their observer next to the anti-tank guns on Curt's left. His Tiger tanks - always the scariest part of Curt's lists, especially for my British - idled behind the infantry. 

We decided not to establish a time limit, and to just go until one side had won. 

One the first turn, Curt advanced his tigers and infantry towards the village. On the left, I double-timed one of the tank platoons, pushing them almost all the way through the fields. An infantry platoon followed them in, while the machine guns moved in to hug the hedgerow. One of the mortar observer teams hopped over the hedgerow to get a better line-of-sight. 

My infantry and anti-tank guns stayed put on the right, waiting for the advancing Germans. 

My other tank platoon began to move through the forest on the far right. While I needed to roll Bog Checks to see if they would stop moving, I was confident that I could keep myself from rolling poorly. 

Said confidence was quickly shattered when the platoon commander was the first to bog down, meaning my tank platoon quickly stopped its advance!

Our tanks began to play a game of 'cat and mouse' (I'll let you guess which platoons are which). My hope was that my tanks could at least machine-gun the mortars to pieces before being popped by the Tigers, since their shells were raining down and decimating my own mortars and machine guns. In fact, my Mortars were the only platoon to retreat off the table, thanks to their German counterparts. 

Curt's paratroopers moved forward as his anti-tank guns waited, listening to the British tank commander cursing his bad luck. 

My plan actually worked, with the Shermans rolling up to the hedgerows and starting to shoot at the Mortars, who lost two guns. The Tigers fire back, but the cover and range means Curt has to roll 6's to hit. 

Knowing I needed to get my tanks moving again, I had my platoon commander move from the bogged tank to a mobile one. The Firefly managed to move to the edge of the woods, but the new platoon commander's tank went and bogged down again! A certain driver was going to get a stern lecture after the fight. 

Curt's infantry finally moved through the town and into rifle range. My dug-infantry proved difficult to dislodge, however. 

My platoon commander managed to un-bog his tank, but then was forced to bail out by incoming Pak40 rounds. The other two tanks retaliated, blowing up one of the anti-tank guns. 

The two tank platoons continued to trade volleys with one another as the British infantry prepared to go up and over the hedgerow, led by Hollis. 

Unable to get enough hits with which to pin my infantry platoon, my own rifles chased off one of Curt's paratrooper platoons. 

Finally, Curt's Tigers blew up on of the Shermans. Deciding that they had waited long enough, the British infantry move out into the field, running towards the Tigers. 

The only remaining part of the anti-tank platoon was the command team, who passed the necessary morale checks and moved to stop the British from capturing the objective for at least another turn. 

The British infantry were finally pinned, but Curt's assault was held off for another turn by some lucky dice rolls. 

And in the next turn, the British had the objective in hand, winning 5-2. 

It was a fun game, although Curt and I had to knock some cobwebs out of our heads to remember the rules. I'll probably go over the rule book a couple more times, since we did have a few questionable calls (firing in and out of woods, for example).

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Night at the Park - Empire of the Dead AAR

For those of you who might have been getting tired of nearly a month's worth of Dark Ages related posts, rejoice! Because here's something completely different.

A few people at 7th Dimension Games have expressed interest in starting up an Empire of the Dead campaign, especially Gary (whose games I have included on this blog before, such as the Wings of War and Beer and Pretzel Ironclads games).  For those of you who don't know, Empire of the Dead is a 28mm campaign-focused skirmish game that takes place in an alternate horror- and Gothic-laden Victorian England. In Empire of the Dead, aristocratic Gentlemen and unsuspecting Bobbies fight against werewolves, vampires, undead, and plenty of other monstrosities.

In order to familiarize ourselves with the rules before starting an actual campaign, Gary and the others have been playing one-off games to learn the rules. This time it was my turn, and I decided to go with a Lycaon (Werewolf faction, with a great paint job by Gary) list against Bob's Gentlemen's Club list. These lists were:

The Darkshire Pack (Lycaon)
Wolfskin (Bow, Axe)
Wolfskin (Bow, Axe)
Wolfskin (Crossbow, Axe)

The Tricorne Club (Gentleman's Club)
President (Sword, Heavy Pistol)
Vice-President (Repeating Rifle)
The Membership (Sword, Light Pistol)
The Membership (Sword, Light Pistol)
The Membership (Sword, Light Pistol)
The Membership (Sword, Light Pistol)

The scenario we rolled was 'Fracas' - basically a straight-up fight that lasts until one side drops below 25% of it's original starting number of models - with diagonal deployment. Bob and I agreed to have the fight in an Industrial Park so we wouldn't have to worry about any additional rules. And since I won the Unnatural Occurrence roll (a straight d10 roll between players), I decided that the game would take place at night. Not that it would do any good, really.

While the normal table size for Empire of the Dead is 3' by 3', Gary built us a 2' by 2' area to play in. This made sure that the game was fast and the action furious. The trees offered cover, while the street lamps illuminated a small area around their base.

I placed my Beastlord and a Wolfskin/Wolf pair deep in the woods in one corner. The other Wolfskins and Wolves went into the opposite corner, unfortunately in the open. Bob placed his Vice-President and two Memberships near a lamp. 

Thanks to the way Gary had set up the table, Bob's President and attending Memberships were forced to squeeze through a small alley between the Park's entrance arch and the small building. 

Thanks to the Beastlord's and Wolves' fast movement, they quickly fell upon the President and his men. 

Two of the Wolfskins sent their Wolves from opposite corners against the Vice-President and the other Memberships, but the Repeating Rifle and some quick pistol work felled those charging beasts, along with one of the Wolfskins. 

The remaining Wolfskin charged into combat, but ended up with a sword through the heart, as one of the Membership saved the unarmed Vice-President. 

The Beastlord, very much a close-combat powerhouse, managed to chew through the President and then both Memberships in short order. 

However, the remaining Wolfskin was gunned down by the Vice-President, who turned out to be a decent shot with his Repeating Rifle.

With the last Wolfskin dead, my force finally reached below the 25% threshold, and Bob claimed victory. The Beastlord would survive to re-establish his pack, and the Vice-President looked to be in line for a promotion. 

I certainly had fun, and I do hope that we get an Empire of the Dead campaign started. That said, I do have to mention a couple of things. The rulebook certainly has some editing issues, with plenty of grammatical errors, missing point values, missing entries, odd inclusions, and no index. 

Also, it seems as though the Lycaon are a bit underwhelming as a faction. With a 3' table, it would take my Wolves, Beastlord and Packmasters an additional turn or two to get into close combat. The Wolfskins can only take medieval ranged weapons, so they're seriously outgunned by the other three factions - even the Holy Orders can take monks with guns. Gary told me that smoke grenades on the Wolfskins are essential, especially if the Lycaons don't win the roll to determine whether or not the game is played during the day or at night. But even that might not matter if the Lycaon don't win initiative - anyone with a decent range and line-of-sight can start popping off shots before the Wolfskins can move. There's the additional fact that one of the four choices for the Lycaon - wolves - can't claim objectives or pick anything up (paws and all that) which makes them problematic for most of the scenarios in the game. This basically makes them furry little missiles, which is fine until they're gunned down. 

That being said, I would definitely like to play again, perhaps with a sort of Victorian-era, British military-based Gentlemen's Club, or perhaps a Darkfire Club ally.