Sunday, 29 May 2016

Tiger versus Sherman, the test.

As you can see by the photos below my Bolt Action collection is about finished. I just removed the bases for these shots. OK, so I went a little heavy on the Shermans, but overall I'm pleased with everything, just have a final bid on for a lovely pro painted German Puma armoured car ending Sunday and that will be it. I do have the same kit here unbuilt so if I don't win the auction I'll probably take my time and built the kit and paint it later. I'm now going to start to put some proper BA lists together as I have plenty to select from, the focus will be Normandy.

I did have a somewhat disappointing run through of a Tank War battle the other day, I wanted to do the classic test of armoured warfare rules by pitching  M4 Shermans and a Firefly against a couple of Tiger I's. IN my opinion, if a 75mm Sherman is capable of punching through the front armour of a Tiger then something is not quite right. In 2 test games Tigers were destroyed by Shermans, the first was killed by two 75mm Shermans, first shot hit the tracks and disabled it for the turn, with the second Sherman finishing it off by rolling a 6 with a +5 penetration to beat the Tigers defensive value of 10, then requiring only a 4+ on the Damage results table to kill it. Just a little too easy for my liking. On the other hand the Tiger was missing it's 'hit' shots with a run of poor dice throws, and it becomes apparent once you start to play armour only games that firing a single shot/ dice to hit produces a string of potentially bad results that are averaged out when playing infantry based games where you might be rolling 12 or more dice for a 10 man squad with mixed weapons. If you move and fire it's a +1 modifier to that basic 'hit' requirement of 3+ so you have only a 50% chance of scoring a hit and that does not change even on a second shot so you have the spectacle of an experienced Tiger crew missing it's target at ranges where it should be most effective. Much to think about, it's clear to me that the armour rules are 'broken' but it's only something that becomes apparent once you play armour only games, they work OK within the context of infantry games with perhaps a single tank model in support role, but that's a bit of a blow to me having been building up my armour collection for months in order to play some tank only games!

The final insult was a 'FUBAR' result (double 6) on a Tigers morale throw after it had been hit and pinned by a Sherman M4. I abandoned proceedings at this stage to re check the rules, but the FUBAR chart stated a 'panic' resulting in the Tiger executing a 'run'order away from nearest enemy, I have re checked but can't see anything excluding tanks from these results?

Might need to revisit Flames of War for my planned tank battles as they do model tank v tank actions very well in my opinion.

My entire 28mm 'Tank War' collection (so far!).

New addition Marder tank destroyer.

Warlord loveliness.

These 2 Shermans managed to destroy a Tiger!

The M10 waits for a clear shot, but grey dice came out first, the Tiger advanced down the road and knocked it out first shot.

New playsheets found on the net, these are far better than the warlord download!


An open table for the tank test games.

Edit: I have been giving this some thought since posting the above this morning, family are away to Brighton for the weekend, Youngest Daughters 15th Birthday, ( she was our little 'surprise' when I was 43 and my wife 40!!), now taller than Dad, slim and with bleach blonde hair). Anyway, with time on my hands I have been spending a bit of time playing with my tanks. There may be a simple 'fix' to my gripes around the 75mm Sherman punching a hole through the heavy frontal armour of a Tiger, downgrade the 75mm Sherman to a 'Light Anti Tank Gun'. Still a Medium tank but with a less potent main gun. By dropping the penetration modifier to +4 it becomes impossible to penetrate a heavy tank, even on a roll of 6 the worst you can do is to disable it ('superficial damage' so it's a D6 -3 roll with a 4,5 or 6 to knock it out, which obviously can't be done. Thinking about it, this would now bring these results more into line with FoW results. I'm feeling a bit happier about things now, but there is still the issue of the Target missing the same target twice!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

US anti tank gun and tow.

The game is over and I'm finishing writing a few notes before I post the report. It was a lively affair. Meanwhile I have finished off the US anti tank gun and crew plus the half track to tow it, all Warlord products and very nice too. I did however make one error that continues to bother me, somehow I managed to stick the legs on upside down on the gun model. I tried to pull them off again, but super glue meant I risked breaking them so I bottled out! Plenty of grass/tufts should help disguise it, but it does bother me.

Grandaughter Crystal was round again at the weekend for a BBQ, so while her Dad took care of the cooking we went upstairs to see 'Grandads room' as usual. She had a good time playing with the buildings and figures and I gave her a building to take home. She also has a 28mm Panzer III model on her shelf that I gave her and she does look after it. I can't deny her a little play on the table. Being as she is Home Schooled she is free of the legal restrictions of travelling only in school holiday time and they have just returned from a week in Spain thus the hair braids and suntan.

Thursday, 19 May 2016


Before I post the battle report I thought I would grab a shot of all the US 'Tank War' vehicles together as I have been working this week on the seven Sherman tanks that I now have, six M4's and a Firefly. All are genuine Warlord kits, the Firefly is a resin and metal kit, the rest plastic. Together they look pretty impressive, and it's been in my mind for months now to recreate my old 'Flames of War' armour collection in 28mm scale. To this end I have another Firefly and another M10 tank destroyer (both resin and metal Warlord kits) on order and that will complete my US armour.

You can see there has been a fair bit of additional work to the kits with added stowage, metal crew and cammo netting etc. I am still considering a final drybrush to bring all of the tanks together tonally.

On the painting table is an M3 half track to tow the 3" anti tank gun, several 'character' figures including the first of the French Resistance fighters, a butcher and cafe owner. For the Germans a Marder tank destroyer (resin and metal) and command armoured car (resin and metal) will complete their 'Tank War' force. I am getting close to be able to take a break from this project soon. I also have some 20mm plastic Russian Priests that I want to paint for 'Conrad Kinch' having had them here for ages, they are finally undercoated and will get a paint job this week.

Enthusiasm for Bolt Action remains very high, now actively looking for local opponent for friendly games now and then.

Firefly awaiting it's distinctive barrel pattern.

Monday, 16 May 2016


I cleared everything off the table, gave it a good hoovering and then laid out a simple set up featuring some of my new road sections. I'm very pleased with them as they seem to lift the scale to match the houses and other terrain items. Might need to get another 12 of the taller trees from S&A Scenics, but overall I think everything is working together nicely, it's what I planned from the start, somewhat 'old school' in that it's modular and can be used to create loads of different layouts. One thing I can't model however are hills or even gentle undulations in the terrain, it's obvious that to fit the vertical scale any hill would have to be HUGE, so we represent largely flat terrain and I'm happy with that.

I picked out a couple of small forces to play with, probably only around 500 points each and the game is underway. Just a couple of squads per side to keep the rules fresh in my head.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

More on Bolt Action rules.

Before clearing off the table for another game I took a  few shots of the Germans laid out. They represent in Bolt Action terms a 'reinforced infantry platoon' that gives me lots of options as to points selection. For example, for a small 500 points game I might just field a couple of veteran squads riding in half tracks, and select additional teams from MMG's, medium mortar, sniper team and A/T Panzershreck team.

A few more notes on the rules, where troops arrive in transports each transport gets it's own order dice in addition to the troops inside, and so long as they are on board can fire the machine guns where fitted. This gives an opportunity to move in close and put down suppressing fire before dismounting and assaulting.

The command (HQ) teams you can see are as follows:

Platoon commander (leutnant) gives plus 1 to morale throws. Also two men with SMG's to support him (ie, take the first hits if required!) There is an 'exceptional damage' rule in BA that works quite well in that when you roll to wound/damage (after you have rolled for hits /pin), if a six is rolled you get to re roll it and if another six is rolled it means the firer gets to select the casualty rather than the target, so you get to select the NCO and his removal adds another modifier on the morale throw. Works the same when firing at 'small teams' (less than three figures), you can select the gunner model to kill if you score exceptional damage, but small teams attract a further modifier on the 'hit' rolls. A small team 'down' in soft cover can be very hard to get at! The Germans get a special rule that allows them to replace fallen NCO's from the ranks to represent initiative and training on a D6 roll.

One more thing about firing, when the required score is 7 or greater (on a D6)  it's a virtually impossible shot, but you DO still get a chance by rolling a 6 followed by another 6. I have done it a couple of times and every shot counts in this game.

Buildings, oddly enough you can't fire even HE shells at the buildings themselves, only target those inside it and with a hard cover modifier it's hard to dislodge troops this way. Been a bit of debate around this but thems the rules. HE hitting troops in the open can be devastating and can easily knock out an entire squad bearing mind that if a unit loses half it's men in a turn it has to take a morale check, there is no routing off board in BA, when a unit's gone it's gone.

Mortars are useful once you get them ranged in, it's best to select a stationary target because you need to range in on a target by rolling an initial 6 first turn, then it drops by one each turn so a 5 or 6 next turn etc. So long as the target remains in position the mortar is ranged in and can drop it's shells on the target. The mortar team includes a 'spotter' figure but he shares the mortars order dice so that you get to activate either the spotter or mortar. Once you have him in  a position where he can see a target the mortar can attempt to range in indirectly using his LOS so you can hide mortars in a safe spot, range in and fire away.

Panzerfausts are one shot 'shaped charge' weapons with a range of 12" and a penetration of 6. Once fired the figure can only fire his rifle after that, they will tear through the side of a Sherman with impunity.

More pics, game will follow.

Friday, 13 May 2016

More terrain & more Germans!

I'm pleased to say that I now have both my new road and rivers and am delighted with both. The road sections will give me plenty of options going forward as I ordered enough to allow for larger playing areas.I really like the finish, I'll keep my own track roads for more rural set ups. The river has a quirky hand made finish that again appeals to me.

I have now finished off the 'inexperienced' squad consisting of youths and old men in various apparel, plus the excellent porky faced commander character who will play as the squad NCO! Still need to check a few details such as the fire brigade helmet but I'll do that today before texturing the bases.

So next job is to get 2 or 3 houses painted and finished for a small solo game (500 points) over the weekend. The cafe has it's render on, a soft yellow, and I'll tidy it up around the windows etc before inking the woodwork with thinned Sepia.

Looking ahead I still see so much mileage in this project, I now have on order a squad of French Resistance fighters plus a couple of LMG's for them, also a couple of character civilians a butcher and cafe owner. Thanks to Richard I am now the proud owner of 4 outside toilets/sheds, perfect size from Warbases where I also picked up a bag of chickens and a bloodhound! The MDF bases for the back yards are on order from ERM.

Still lurking at the back of my mind is the idea of being able to play Flames of War tank battles in the near future on a larger table. If I miss one single thing it's those tank rules with the bogging checks, bail outs/remounts and of course that firepower roll. I may be slightly mad but I am now (or will be next week) the proud owner of another platoon of 4 Shermans (including a Firefly) via eBay, all with a superb paint job and netting etc. I just enjoy collecting this stuff but that germ of an idea (it was Conrad Kinch's fault as he sowed the seed with his comment re Flames of war on  the lawn!) is closer to becoming a reality.

A few photo's as usual.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Normandy Cafe.

My wargame table is currently looking more like an MDF housing estate. This is the last of the kits for my Normandy themed board, a lovely cafe with lots of character, and even has a little bar inside the lower floor! It's a HUGE model though, but lays out well bedside the others. I have on order the 'back yard' pieces, and many thanks to Richard for the link to the perfect outside toilets, I have 4 on order plus the Warbases site tempted me into buying my first 28mm rabbits, ducks and dogs and other bits as I begin to start 'dressing up' the table. Tell me, do you think the flag is too much?

And who's first to the bar?

Sunday, 8 May 2016

4th German squad painted & more terrain.

Really enjoyed painting this squad, will get the bases finished later today hopefully once I have cut the grass, never a favourite job of mine. Again went for generic cammo pattern using the Vallejo 'Splinter' 4 colour set followed by a thin wash of sepia ink. Overall this squad sits well alongside the other three in the platoon. As usual the Warlord castings have superb character faces that reward a careful paint job.

Tough looking veteran squad.

German High Command carry out a Health & Safety inspection of the new road surface.

Next will be the six figures to complete an additional 'inexperienced' squad. These six figures have been selected from the 'Last Levy' box to represent a late war mixed squad of Hitler Youth, old men and the odd regular. Some of the figures in the set represent young children, and I decided against using them, instead selecting a mix of uniforms and civilian clothing with the more mature heads. The commander is the brilliant obese party official in brown jacket, I can't wait to paint that face! Weapons for the squad are mixed, but with so many panzerfausts available you would not want them anywhere near a Sherman.

Recently I saw some great photos of the Warlord anti tank trap set so ordered one. I hope to order some MDF bases this week to make them up. I still see plenty of these concrete blocks all along the coast here. I'm also going to order MDF bases to make up individual back yards for each building with fence, walls, even the odd outside toilet (anyone make outside loos in MDF?).  Again it will add depth and more cover to the game and generally dress up the table.

Finally, it's a beautiful day here, lots of people already on the beach, fishermen being towed by tractor down to the incoming tide, Tom and his donkeys will be giving the traditional rides along the sand. I watched this wonderful film yesterday following one US war correspondent's journey through London, onto Plymouth, boarding the landing craft to Omaha, into Normandy, on to Paris, and on to Germany. One of the best I have seen and filmed in colour. Made me realise just how lucky those of my generation are not to have lived through such a war. Not been able to get it out of my head. If you have never watched this before it's a gripping film, delivered as a lecture it's pretty moving at times, recommended viewing. I'm glad Bolt Action is just a game. Have a peaceful Sunday.