Friday, August 28, 2015

Painting Update - European Village

While I have gotten plenty of mileage out of the Paper Terrain buildings that I bought some time ago, but I've always wanted some nice, 3D buildings with actual interiors. I've looked around and realized the biggest choice was whether I wanted resin or MDF. While MDF has its advantages - it can be cheaper and easier to transport - it's also highly stylized, with the edges of its construction made fairly obvious.

I found Mk IV Miniatures and, after several positive reviews, I placed an order.

These buildings are part of the "Push for the Rhine" series, and both pristine and ruined versions are available. This means you can easily mix and match, and even duplicated buildings can be unique with a little paint.

The walls are from the same series, and also come in both ruined and pristine states. You get nine wall sections, and one includes a gate.

While the detail on the walls are fantastic, it seems most of them have a "fuzzy' texture on one side, which I'm guessing is a mistake made during the casting.

I'm going to be working on these slowly, as I don't get the chance to play WWII games much these days, but they could potentially be used in games of All Quiet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ramming Speed! - Beer and Pretzels Ironclads

This past Saturday, Gary decided to pull out his collection of ACW Ironclads and put on a game of BAPI. This would be a bit different compared to our last game, however. No forts were in sight, and the ships we were using were better suited to ramming than actual gunnery (apart from the Ironclads both sides had). 

It was going to be a brawl, a knock down, drag out fight, and the winner would be the fleet with the last ship left floating. 

The attacking Union fleet was made up of four ships: the USS Hammer and the USS Slammer (both Ram-class), the USS Rambait (a Schooner-class, and the only ship on the table without a bow ram), and the USS Outtaluck (a Keokuk-class Ironclad).

The Confederate fleet, moving out from their positions along coast, consisted of the CSS Butterbean (Cottonclad-class), the CSS Razorback (Arkansas-class), the CSS Bob, Jr. VIII (Casemate-class), and the CSS Quaker (Manassas-class). 

The two fleet approached one another at speed, bow guns blazing away at range. Gary's Butterbean and Razorback led the charge, while Bob's Bob, Jr. and Quaker used their heavier guns at range. I controlled the Union fleet until Carl arrived a few turns in, taking control of the Hammer and Rambait

As the fleets maneuvered closer, both sides began to slow to battle speed. The Hammer had Bob, Jr. in her sights, while the Slammer and Rambait turned to face the oncoming Butterbean and Razorback.

My plan to ram the Razorback from both sides failed utterly, however, as the Rebel ships got the initiative and scooted past the Union attackers. Like a vengeful schoolmarm, the Razorback let loose with her bow and starboard guns, walloping the Slammer and Rambait. Even worse, the Slammer and the Outtaluck were in danger of colliding with each other!

Luckily, the Slammer and the Outtaluck managed to slip past each other, and the Outtaluck steamed towards a new target - the Quaker!

Meanwhile the Razorback had gotten past the Rambait and opened up on the Hammer (the ship at the bottom of the picture), damaging the ship enough that she was forced to move at half speed.

With a ship-shattering impact, the Outtaluck rammed the Quaker, doing massive hull damage in the process. Unfortunately, Bob's crew quickly swarmed over my ship, killing the crew before I was able to button up below decks.

The Hammer was forced to watch as the Bob, Jr. slipped past, while the Razorback stalked forward.

In their own little fight, the Rambait and the Slammer tried to come to grips with the Butterbean, but the Confederate ship quickly moved away.

Hoping to do enough damage to the Bob, Jr. with my guns, I had the Outtaluck open her firing ports. The resulting crew damage from the boarders left my ship unmanned, and the Bob, Jr. pulled away - right into the ram of the Hammer, who sunk the Confederate ironclad. 

Unfortunately, the Hammer then took enough damage from the Razorback and the Butterbean, and sunk, her wreck joining the Bob, Jr. in a watery grave. 

The Confederates now had the advantage. The Quaker, having slipped through the melee, rammed the Slammer. Although she was heavily damaged, the massive crew of the Union shipped jumped aboard the Confederate ironclad and slaughtered her crew in a combat that echoed the death of the Outtaluck

Unfortunately, the valiant Rambait exploded when a round from the Butterbean went into one of her munition caches and lit off the entirety of her ammo. 

Seeing that the situation was dire - there was no way the heavily damaged Slammer was going to escape from both the Razorback and the Butterbean - I conceded the game to Gary and Bob. The Confederates had turned back the Union attack!

It was another enjoyable game, although the group did begin to realize that the ramming rules in BAPI were somewhat lacking in clarity. Gary has now begun an investigation into other potential rulesets that we can use for both his and Carl's collections. 

Additionally, I showed my copy of Frostgrave to the group and it was generally well received, with one person going so far as to grab a bunch of Reaper Bones minis that very day.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Broadside of a Barn - Hail of Fire AAR

I don't think it would be any big surprise if I say that I'm a little tired of Flames of War. 

I've looked into other games, but most would require the time and effort to rebase my FoW-compliant units into single-based miniatures for the best effect. 

In a search for some new rules to use, I came across Hail of Fire, which are an in-development set of rules by Retro Boom. I was immediately interested by some of the mechanics, which seem to combine Flames of War and Crossfire!.

The one sticking point was the lack of units, and so over the past few days I've been writing out unit stats for Germans, British, and Americans, centered around June-August, 1944 (based on the Forces book that comes with the hardcover Flames of War rulebook). Hoping to get a feel for the system and at the same time test out the unit stats, I invited Curt over for a game. 

We decided to play a small game on a 4'x4' table. The objective for the game was to control the farmhouse at the middle. Curt would start as the defender on the far half of the table, effectively in control of the objective from the beginning.

This would mean that I would be playing with a timer, since there are two ways to lose in a straightforward game. Like FoW, you can lose half your units, fail a Company Check, and retreat off the table. Additionally, you can get 30 total points of chits drawn from a bag when certain conditions are met - when an enemy controls an objective and you don't, when you take a platoon or company morale check, and others. Since Curt's teams started with control of the objective, I was taking a chit every time he started his turn. (This was an additional problem since we were using chits from the Battlegroup rules, not from the HoF rules, which actually gave me higher value chits than normal.)

Not wanting to waste time, I immediately started for the objective with a good chunk of my available forces. 

In HoF, units have to make an activation check to do anything. If one passes, there's a number of actions a unit can take, and units can actually take different actions with their teams - for example, half of the teams in a unit can Concentrate Fire, and re-roll misses when shooting, while the other teams Run and roll double their movement dice.

Depending on what a unit is (Infantry, Guns, or Vehicles), they have different move speeds. Infantry move d6", Guns move d3", and Vehicles move 2d6". Running as an actions doubles these speeds. 

Curt had kept his unit of StuGs hidden for a couple turns, and then revealed them in ambush behind a hedgerow. He failed their activation, and when moving (units can only Move, Fire, or go into Ambush if they fail to activate), one of the StuGs got caught up on the terrain. 

I moved my machine guns up to avoid being shot at by the StuGs, and then moved one of my own tank platoons to keep the StuGs from moving up any further. 

I had rated Curt's Fallschirmjager infantry as MG teams (forgetting they were actually Rifle/MG in FoW), which meant that each stand was throwing out three dice each. Curt activated his infantry platoon and had them Concentrate Fire. In a single turn of shooting, he wiped out most of the HMG platoon that I had moved up, and the remaining team was suppressed. 

The above photo is actually incorrect since teams cannot have more than one suppression token on them at a time. 

Of course, any unit with a single team remaining counts as destroyed in the next turn, so the MG unit went away, and I pulled two more chits. You can see the little pile adding up their on the right.

I finally got my 6 pdrs up on the hill, and started to send my second infantry unit towards the farmhouse. I also advanced my other tank platoon towards the road, hoping to get the drop on the Tiger. 

The unit of StuGs would become Curt's bane as a commander. They constantly failed their activation checks, passing the Initiative over to me. A good round of shooting, however, knocked out the Firefly and suppressed a Sherman. 

With the initiative turned back over to me, I decided to run my infantry into the open field and try to reach the farmhouse. I was getting dangerously close to the breaking point. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that Curt's other infantry platoon had gone into Ambush, and so my infantry suffered 30 dice of shots from Curt's platoon - 15 doubled because I had ran! The infantry were suppressed, but stuck around.

Curt's Tiger was forced to retreat from the two Shermans that had moved onto the road. 

Curt's StuGs still failing to activate, I moved my infantry into contact with the farmhouse, contesting it. No sooner had I done so that Curt's infantry opened fire again, ripping into the exhausted platoon and pushing them back off the objective.

The game ended when the StuGs finally activated and Concentrated Fire. The remaining tank retreated from the table, and I had to draw two chits, which put me over the 30 limit.

While I'm going to hold off declaring a verdict about the game just yet - I want to play a few more games following the actual objective rules and with the right chits being used - I think HoF succeeds in being a company sized WWII game. The activation checks forces player to think about what their most critical actions are. Moving guns are a pain without transport. And there's actually Reaction fire (alongside Ambush fire).

I'll continue working on the lists, and hopefully more games will give me a better feel for the rules. Curt and I didn't get a chance to use the Artillery or Assault rules, for example.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

We'll Begin Again - Empire of the Dead AAR

Since the gangs we had started the Empire of the Dead campaign were becoming a little bloated - either because surviving characters were amassing skills or new models were being added faster than older ones were leaving - the group decided to make new gangs, different from the ones we had already played with:

Me - Criminal (Tong)
Gary - Gentlemen's Club (Darkfire)
Bob - Nosferatu
Carl - Gentleman's Club

My new gang's first game was against Carl's club, who were sporting an array of shotguns and rifles. In a Fracas scenario, I was certainly outgunned. Luckily, I managed to get the roll for day/night, and elected to play in the cover of darkness, making it harder for Carl's gang to shoot me.  

We deployed in opposite corners, and my Gentleman of the Road (who adds a +1 to initiative rolls as long as he's on the table) made sure I had the initiative for most of the game. 

My new gang's first game was against Carl's club, who were sporting an array of shotguns and rifles. In a Fracas scenario, I was certainly outgunned. Luckily, I managed to get the roll for day/night, and elected to play in the cover of darkness, making it harder for Carl's gang to shoot me.  

We deployed in opposite corners, and my Gentleman of the Road (who adds a +1 to initiative rolls as long as he's on the table) made sure I had the initiative for most of the game. 

My gang advanced together, with the Bludger rushing ahead, hoping for a chance to use his sawn-off shotgun. 

Carls' Gent's split off into two group - four continued to the far corner of the table, while two headed for the center. 

I sent my Guv'nor and Dipper into the middle of the square as well, hoping to use my Dipper to steal something off Carl's models. Managing to survive Carl's shots, my Tong members - not known for their extraordinary shooting skills - managed to not only hit the Gents when firing back, but removed both models from the table! 

At the other table edge, my Bludger was boosted up onto the wall, where he saw Carl's Gents taking cover behind a low wall. Since template weapons automatically hit, ignoring cover, the gangster leveled his sawn-off and gave the Gents both barrels. This took out another of Carl's models. 

The Gents weren't going down without a fight, however, and the Bludger paid for his eagerness by becoming holier than the pope, then being removed from play.

Having lost 50% of his gang, Carl managed to succeed on his Break Tests, but elected to retreat, not wanting to subject his gang to more punishment now that the Tong, a close combat faction, were ready to charge.

So the Tong won their first game!

As Gary and Bob had played against each other, we decided to try out a four player Artefact Hunt, with Carl and I teaming up against Bob and Gary. We changed the scenario a bit, with for Artefact tokens placed in the middle of the table around a clock, representing that there was potentially an artifact hidden at its base.

Once again, the Tong deployed in a corner by the docks.

Bob deployed to my left, with his vampire Graf, Guardian, and a trio of Bat Swarms. 

Carl's Gents deployed opposite of me. 

And Gary's Darkfire Club deployed to my right. I was especially afraid of Gary's Gatling gun!

The actual game, however, shook down into two separate fights - between Gary and Carl, and Bob and I. The Bat Swarms harried my gang, managing to take out both the Bludger and the Dipper, but the rest of the Tong managed to give the bloodsuckers enough of a drubbing that they broke and ran. 

Gary, seeing that he was now outmatched against the combined Tong and Gents, elected to retreat. This ended the game in a draw, and neither side managed to find an artifact. This game was definite proof to Gary's claim that Empire of the Dead, while certainly a fun campaign game, isn't suited to multi-player games. 

I am, however, eager to receive the Tong box set that I ordered, and to see how this gang turns out. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Fields of Smoke - All Quiet on the Martian Front AAR

As the 7th Dimension group was unable to gather for another round of our EotD campaign, Gary brought out his All Quiet collection for another game, with my own collection getting added in. This time we were joined by Russ and Carl. 

We were playing table-length again, and this time it was a meeting engagement between the American and Martian forces. No trenches for the infantry to hide in this time!

The Martians only had a 6" deployment area, meaning that they had to keep a trio of Assault tripods off the table, ready to move on in the next turn. Gary had has usual collection of Assaults, Scouts, Slavers, and hordes of drones. Carl would be the other Martian commander.

Russ and I would be controlling the humans. My force was primarily made up of militia infantry and tanks, with some regular military units joining them on the left side of the road. Russ' force were the tanks and infantry on the road, and everything to the left in the woods and beyond.

With the Army rumbling past and the impact of the tripods' movement growing louder, the civilians in the area began to flee their homes.

As the Martians had the first turn, none of their weapons were in range to fire, so most moved twice, hoping to get into heat-ray range quickly. The humans advanced as well, with their armor out front and infantry following behind. Some slight damage was done to the tripods, with the artillery focusing on the Slavers, hoping to take them out and their Drones at the same time. The two squads of Rough Riders moved out, hoping to close and entangle the Martian machines.

Turn two saw a lot of smoke markers getting placed on the table. The Martians opened up with their heat rays, slagging a bunch of the oncoming human tanks. The regular Rider platoon lost two of its three stands, but the two Rider units managed to tangle the two tripods they went after. More shots from the tanks either went wide or crumpled the armor of the tripods to little effect.

Events continued to go poorly for the humans. On the right, only a single Mk II and a command tank remained, and the infantry were forced to advanced past their burning hulks as the Martians kept coming. Russ was having slightly better luck on his side, with most of his tanks intact. 

A cheer went up from the human side as one of the Slavers blew up. It didn't injure any of the surrounding tripods, but it did destroy a number of drones. 

Russ's luck quickly ran out, however, as a line of tripods obliterated his remaining tanks, only leaving a single Mk III that took an unbelievably large amount of firepower to bring down.

With only three tanks remaining on the table, it was up to the machine guns and artillery to do some damage to the oncoming Martians. The infantry, out in the open, was getting hammered by Drones and the heat rays of the larger tripods.

With the last of the remaining tanks wiped out, the humans were getting dangerously close to the break point. Still, the infantry advanced, hoping to take out a couple more tripods in close assaults. the second Slaver did fall, however, and with it went the Drones. Another tripod on Russ' side exploded, but didn't set off any chain reactions. 

Unfortunately, the Martian heat rays swept enough of the infantry off the table to finally break the humans, who were forced to retreat once again. Victory to the Martians!

Russ and I had a rough time of it, with some exceptionally poor dice rolling. Gary and Carl took full advantage of that fact, happily stomping and melting our toy tanks with their big, mean tripods. But it was another great game, and I'm definitely glad that Gary's got more All Quiet items on the way. Hopefully we'll get to see the big town that Gary's had in the works.