Sunday, 29 November 2015

A question of scale.

Having spent several months and a fair bit of cash building up my terrain for 15mm Flames of War, I am reluctant to do it all again for 28mm Bolt Action. If I am honest with myself, I have struggled with the BA project from the start, but having finally got everything glued together and painted and had a few run throughs of the deceptively simple rules I have to say I'm hooked.

I did buy a few plastic 'Warlord' BA buildings, but I just don't like them and have no interest in painting them. So next I bought a tester MDF building in the bigger scale, lovely kit, amazing detail, but it's bloody HUGE and dwarfs everything else! What to do? After much thought I decided to simply play a game of Bolt Action on my Flames of War terrain layout. It struck me that when you stand back the 28mm figures don't look too bad at all, the buildings look a little small, but if I play around them rather than through them (and the rules allow this), things are acceptable. To my eyes, as a wargame, the discrepancy in scale is acceptable and saves me having to do it all again. I know that BA is usually seen played on fully scaled up terrain, but for the time being I'm happy with this set up and I intend to enjoy myself with it. I have set my Son in Law a BA Xmas challenge.

Numerous pics as usual showing general progress on the BA front. The Sherman has been built and painting is underway, it's had a bit of weathering but still a lot to do including finding 28mm stowage to dress it up a little. The StuG is only part built and the halftrack is about done, save weathering and decals etc.

This game saw just five squads per side starting off table and as each order dice was drawn I rolled for entry point across the long table edges, this worked well for solo play I found. I placed an objective ammo dump roughly centre table in order to give some focus to the game. Squads can only enter on a 'run' or 'advance' order.

  • 3 squads of Veteran Grenadiers, each of an NCO and five men. (NCO's are marked with a little red blossom on bases to help identify them, they also carry SMG's).
  • 1 x  MG42 with loader, Veterans.(small team)
  • Command team, 2 figures.

  • 3 squads of Trained infantry, as above.
  • 1 LMG with 2 crew. Trained.(small team)
  • Command team 3 figures (small team)

An enjoyable game ensued as squads moved cautiously closer to the objective. The order dice are drawn from a bag so you never who who will get the next order and the situation can change constantly as initiative swings back and forth. The Yanks lot the MG team in only the second turn, I thought they were well deployed, but when a PanzerGrenadier squad suddenly jumped out in front of them and opened fire with assault rifles there was nothing they could do about it as they had already completed their 'fire' order. An 'ambush' order would have put the MG team on hold, awaiting a target of opportunity. It's very much fast and furious, and great fun. I'll play through the rest of the game today, but already I have a good feel for these rules and look forward to introducing a bit of tank action next game.

Anyone interested can find the Bolt Action 'Rules Summary' PDF here.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

... and back down again for Flames of War.

It's great to able to play both sets of rules as and when I want to. Having completed a run through of BA I set up a small tank battle for FoW. I'm getting a feel for the rules now and really enjoy pushing tank platoons around the tabletop. I tried a few different models to see how different anti tank values and armour saves work and interact. I only realised yesterday that a Sherman V with it's anti tank of 10 cannot penetrate the front armour of a Tiger 1E in this game, quite rightly so, the Tigers front armour of 9 means that even on a save throw of 1 the very worse it can do is to bail it out on a firepower check. Turn that around however and the Tigers anti tank of 13 against the Shermans front armour of 6 means that it can't stop the shot on a D6 roll, it's a straight firepower check, 3up to blow it up , otherwise the crew bail out.  The 17pdr Firefly Sherman is more of a match, but the same armour rating means it remains vulnerable. Evening things up a bit with smaller German Panzers give the Sherman a more even chance. The initial 'to hit' throws are very straightforward, the main factor being the skill rating of the target, Veterans being much harder to hit (4plus) as they have more skill in avoiding fire and using cover etc. but with only half a dozen factors to remember it' very easy to commit to memory. The M10's got a run out, and did destroy a Tiger through it's front armour.

Artillery rules got a first run through, a German battery of 4 howitzers. Rules seemed fair enough if followed through in stages, you have nominate the spotter, then from memory you get three attempts to range in and each failed attempt raise the 'to hit' score by 1. No restriction on how you place the template it seems, and you roll to hit anything under it. The 4 gun battery template is 6" square, but I have seen some HUGE Russian battery templates that appear to be a foot long! Not done a bombardment yet.

'Dug in' markers, only received these yesterday and delighted with them as I had not realised they came ready painted, better than a card token for sure. I'm going to order another pack.

Yet more pics of games in progress, I'm getting there and have a potential opponent lined up so I want to get a good grip of the rules first myself.

I keep meaning to paint the rubber on those spare wheels!

A Firefly lines up for a shot.

The PaK 40 was knocked out by the Typhoon on it's first run, but failed to appear after that.

No not false teeth, dug in markers.
More hedgerow under construction.

For scale 15mm.

My favourite Panzer III's take a photo opportunity, Battlefront models, resin and metal.

Tiger lines up on a bogged down M10 and destroys it.

General view of the table.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Scaling up for 'Bolt Action'.

Having managed finally to get the US infantry finished after the struggle of sticking the damn things together, I thought a run through of Bolt Action would be in order. While I'm fully committed to learning Flames of War, BA has continued to pull me onside, not least because the rules are considerably easier to get a grip of and I have been able to memorise the basics quite easily. I was worried that trying to learn two new sets of rules together might cause confusion, but it's not been the case so far.

I need the terrain to be able to scale up for 28mm so I'll be adding taller trees and raising the hedgerow a bit. The road sections seem to work OK as they are, wide enough for a Sherman to pass. The fields now represent waist high wheatfields. I have invested a fair bit of cash in the Bolt Action project including new 28mm houses, both plastic and MDF. Much remains unpainted at this stage, including a StuG assault gun and Sherman V. The halftrack has had it's basic paint job but needs finishing and weathering. I also have more infantry in the pipeline, sniper teams, anti tank teams etc.

Numerous Bolt Action shots, early stages as I plan to really break up the terrain for this game with lots of cover. You can see I tried doubling up the road sections (deliberate design feature by Tony Barr at ERM!), which does seem to scale the road up better, but I'll need more road sections now. Work in progress. On the Flames of War front I built two Panthers over the weekend ready for painting, they will bring my 15mm tank collection to over 40 models.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Some sad news and more FoW.

We lost a very special person last week, Cath, my Mum in Law of over 30 years  passed away peacefully in her sleep on Thursday. IN a way it's almost a relief after a stressful six months, there remains the funeral to organise so it's a busy time sorting out her affairs etc. She rejoins her beloved husband Dave, who was probably my closest friend for many years as well as my father in law.

Cath and Dave in early days enjoying a drink in a Hastings Pub. Two of the nicest people I have ever met.

As an aside, and an escape from the stress I have been playing more Flames of War solo games in order to become comfortable with the rules. Things have changed on the domestic front as our middle daughter Jess has moved back home with her partner so there has been a lot of organising and sorting out. We have plenty of room here, and like many young couples they have been struggling in a private rented flat, with rents up to £800.00 per month for a tiny 2 bed flat. They both work full time but would have no chance of getting a mortgage, plus Jess will be going to Uni next year, we keep encouraging her, she has the grades, and this takes any financial pressure off of them for a while. Anyway, upshot of this is that Dad has been allowed to keep the smaller 4th bedroom as a 'hobby room' and so I now have a permanent table once again. I also have my painting desk set up there too, I think the family have decided it's best to keep me out of the way while things are being moved around etc, so I'm happy up there and enjoying the freedom to play Flames of War anytime I want. I also have my music up there so it's perfect :)

Some random photos of the table and figures etc.

Painting desk with Bolt Action half track undercoated.

Anti tank troops lie in wait.

HMG sited with a good view down the village street

My Grandaughter helped me to make the sign so I painted her name on it.

British infantry dash for cover.

The little painting area.

M10's in defensive position, concealed at the edge of woods.

Fearless Veteran US airborne on the left flank.