Friday, 30 May 2014

GZG Heavy Grav Command Vehicle

It's been ages since I painted anything for one of my 15mm sci-fi forces. Actually, it's been ages since I painted much of anything really, so it was a bit of fun to dig this out over the weekend and finish it off. It had been languishing part-painted on the painting desk for ages and I had to dust it first. Still, I am happy with the final version. It is the command APC for my Laserburn Imperial force. Now I need to get on with painting the rest of the transports for the Laserburn Imperial assault force.
I can't wait to see this chap perform its first orbital insertion
 While painting the APC, I also started thinking about flight stands for them. I had a length of 15mm acrylic rod, some 12mm rare earth magnets and some 15mm washers, so I decided to experiment. This is my first flight stand and I am very happy with it. The vehicle sits comfortably and securely on top. There is little lateral shift even on steep terrain. The magnetic flight stand should mean that I need fewer of them and that my AFVs are easier to store. Time to retrofit washers to the Bwendi tanks too.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Viking Experience - Book Review

A positive book review is a thing to treasure and the Nottingham Post has just published one of my book. Naturally this pleases me so much I had to share it. :) You can read it HERE. I particularly liked the concluding paragraph:
This beautifully illustrated book provides a revealing portrait of the Vikings' incredible legacy.It's a book to treasure and an added attraction is the collection of removable documents. These include drawings and photographs from archaeological dig sites and an extract from the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, describing a Viking raid on Lindisfarne.


If this whets your appetite for Viking related goodness, the book is available through Amazon and the link on the sidebar will take you right to it. Clicking through from the sidebar will also help me buy a tin of beans for dinner this week (or maybe get some more metal washers for basing figures).

Friday, 23 May 2014

Command Decision: Test of Battle - Notes and Thoughts

 I have played all the iterations of the Command Decision rules. I first encountered them in the mid-nineties when a colleague introduced me to the first edition and we had a blast playing a spot of WW2 wargaming. The rules have always been geared towards scenario play and have not included any kind of points system until the Test of Battle (CDTOB) variant came out. Originally it was well supported with Command Post Quarterly which included scenarios, orders of battle and campaign games. There were even a couple of campaign games included as articles in Miniature Wargames.

So, when the Test of Battle variant came out, I snapped it up at the first opportunity. It has all the rules, streamlined to make the game less involved, while still maintaining the right feel. There is no longer any need to track ammunition usage for each individual vehicle, and you no longer get a bazillion shots per turn. Spotting no longer relies on a die roll and is now purely deterministic based on range and cover. All of this makes the game easier to play and yet does not detract from the feel.

The first printing of the rules (the version I have) includes six late war Western Front and six late war Eastern Front scenarios to get you started easily. It also includes a scenario generation system including a points system, so you can more easily create pick-up games, and tables of organisation and equipment are provided for late war German, Russian, British and American forces. The ToEs for various armies are provided free on the Command Decision website and you can also download the battlegroups for the scenario generation system. Additional force lists are provided on these pages and in various supplements that have been released.

Scenario Generation System
You are given a core force (usually a little below battalion strength) and buy reinforcements for it. These comprise additional infantry companies, tank squadrons support assets and command elements. The final results seem to reflect battlegroup composition quite well, with not too much room for finagling the super-army or fielding 500 Tiger IIs. As you buy troops they are allocated to one of three forces: Holding, Reserve and Assault. The allocation is done in order, so the first 750 points must be allocated to the Holding force. Then the next 600 points must be spent on the Reserve force and finally 600 points on the Assault force. At each stage the force must comply with the minima and maxima in the lists, which means that you cannot beef up one force and use another as a dumping area for the less good stuff. Leftover points may be spent on later forces, but you may never underspend on a later force and allocate those points to an earlier force. The final result seems to reflect battlegroup composition quite nicely.

The rules include a system for generating the battlefield. A composite map has been compiled from the scenarios that should give players a 'typical' area to fight over. There is one map for the Western Front and one for the Eastern Front. These maps are 6x10 squares, with each square representing a 2'x2' area. The standard battlefield is 6'x6' at full scale. I play at half scale in 6mm because it fits my gaming table better. Anyway, one player chooses a square that must be part of the battlefield and the other then designates a 3x3 square area on the map, including that one square, which will be the playing area. The first player chooses their baseline and the players set the terrain up.

Then the mission is generated. Each player may either pick or randomly determine one of the six possible missions. The mission will determine which force(s) they get to field and which may arrive as reinforcements.

I like this system. I have played around with the various options for the Western Desert which is my preferred theatre and think the games that it generates should be good fun. I suppose that means I should get on with sorting out my forces and playing games using it now, but first WW1.

The Death of Glory
A WW1 supplement, The Death of Glory, was released and I snapped that up. It includes nine scenarios for 1914, one of which features Belgians versus Germans, while the rest feature French versus Germans. There is a small campaign covering the action in the Lorraine which looks fun to play and more manageable than the 'Home before the Leaves fall' campaign in the original CD WW1 rules Over the Top. The book also includes British, French and German battlegroups for 1914 so you can use the Test of Battle scenario system with this supplement.
Death of Glory test game. French on the right and Germans on the left
We put together a test game comprising an infantry battalion each with a single artillery battery in support. Given that it was our first game, the whole thing went very smoothly. For simplicity we ignored spotting this time around but plan to use it in future games. The end result was that I was even more enamoured of the system and that I have realised that I need to buy or make a lot more fields for my French countryside. I am now looking forward to our next game, although I still have a lot of French troops to paint if I am to use painted figures for all the scenarios in the book.

We plan to play all the scenarios and then the campaign this year. If I fail to paint my troops in time for a scenario, should I penalise their troop quality, morale or both? Totally unpainted troops suffer a drop in both? Partly painted troops suffer a drop in just one of the two? What about using proxies? Do they suffer for being substitutes?

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Tillykke med dagen, Norge

17th May 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Norwegian constitution. It's a national holiday in Norway and quite a jolly time. Now, if that's not an excuse to work on an army with a Norwegian connection, I don't know what is. Did someone mention Vikings? Yes, don't mind if I do. If anyone needs me I shall be in the corner celebrating by painting some more Vikings. Or maybe I should paint some trolls instead ...