Wednesday 27 June 2012

Clearing Gudbrandsdal - SASL Mission End

German Turn 7. Time to cross that rather open terrain ahead of us. Good job it is raining heavily. That should cover my advance. Roll for Wind Change: 3. Rain stops. Suddenly that ground ahead of us is thick, claggy mud with increased visibility for the Frenchies on the other side of it. I rearranged my forces and used the orchards in the centre right to cover my advance party.
French Turn 7. It started raining again. What's the betting it stops raining on the German turn again?

Well, the rain kept up and the Germans were able to advance across to the next village without triggering too many French attacks. My scouts found out the hard way that the next village was occupied. They broke and some of the men disappeared. Leutnant Furstenback manoeuvres into position to bring the HMG to bear on the village. The rest of the troops continue to move up.
The village is occupied by a few French troops
Suddenly the German sniper wakes up and breaks the French squad in the village (random event). Meanwhile the French sniper has broken a German crew. The French in the top centre have broken a couple of German squads in the village but their days are numbered as Lt Furstenback brings the weight of the HMG to bear on them. The leader and one squad break, but they other goes berserk. No worries about that. It will have to charge over open ground to get to the German lines next turn. Plenty of opportunity to scythe the Frenchies down.
Village cleared but a French squad has gone berserk (orange counter at the top)
German Turn 10. The turn begins with a random event. A pioneer platoon has decided to join the fray from the right flank. I wonder if they will get to the fight before it is over. The troops fire everything they have at the Frenchies in the building but fail to destroy them all. Some of the troops advance. The pioneers race up the road hoping there will be some wine left in the villages. At the end of the German part of Turn 10 I roll for game end. The game ends.
Game over
Final Scores
French: 9 VP
Germans: 16.5 VP
German win

Rest and Refit Phase
Three half squads had been broken and one LMG. One of the half squads is a permanent loss but the other two return shamefacedly to the company and the LMG is fixed.

In the after battle reports, Lt Furstenback is written up and receives a promotion from 9-2 to 10-2. Henceforth he will be known as Kaptein Praxa.
Two squads have gained experience and rise from 2nd Line to 1st Line.
One 1st Line replacement squad is also received to replace losses received over the course of the campaign. The company is now only one half squad short of a full complement.

That was a much easier campaign scenario than some I have played. There were fewer S? markers indicating the possible presence of enemy troops and a large chunk of those present were either poor quality troops or turned out not to have anything there. It's nice to get an easier scenario like this every so often, because Solitaire ASL can be brutal. Now to see what mission the troops will get next. It will be in Norway again but the dice could offer almost anything up.

Saturday 23 June 2012

Clearing Gudbrandsdal - SASL mission continued

The village in the centre is proving to be a hard nut to crack, so I concentrated more troops on it and poured as much fire as I could into the FFL troops there. One of the half-squads went Berserk and charged my troops, only to get cut down in the pouring rain. Did I mention that the rain had got even heavier? Well it had. Eventually, a lucky shot took out their leader but the FFL don't need no steenkin' leaders. They promptly got snake-eyes on the morale check and went Fanatic. Yikes!
Fanatic Frenchies!
My machine-guns kept up their fire but it just was not enough.
Time for a swift and decisive show of force.
On the right flank I had managed to get my troops to charge the enemy in the building with bayonets and grenades, but getting the troops into position to do this had cost me some men. A first-line squad broke and reduced to a second-line half-squad. I was going to have to do the same in the village in the middle. Charge! The fight was tough but my men reduced the enemy and then destroyed them without any losses. Yippee. That's one third of the map cleared.
The situation at the end of turn 6. I now control this much road.
I am now at the end of turn 6. I start rolling for game end from turn 10. I think I may not have pushed hard enough and fast enough to win this, but we shall see. My main mistake was not reading the rules about road networks. As a result, I set up S? markers on the left flank, where there should have been none and spent time destroying them when I did not need to. RTFM, Mr D. Anyway, the next part of the mission is to cross that rather open board in the middle. The grain is not in season, so there is no cover there. The orchards will provide some cover, and the heavy rain is a godsend in terms of cover, even if the mud makes moving slower. My wife is not home from work yet, so there might just be time for another turn ...

Friday 22 June 2012

Norway 1940 - Take the Highway (a Solitaire ASL mission)

Many moons ago I got into Advanced Squad Leader (ASL). It is an awesome game in every sense of the word, but I do not get to play it enough these days. The problem with ASL is that you need to play it regularly to stay on top of the rules or every game becomes more about making sure you have the rules right than thinking about tactics and the best way to beat your opponent. Worse yet, the only ASLer that I get the chance to play against these days is so much better than me now that it is positively disheartening to play him. I remember when I beat him more often than he beat me. Oh, happy days! :-) So, what is the answer to my lack of game play? That's easy. Solitaire ASL (SASL). Every so often I dig out SASL and have a go. Some time back I decided to try playing the entire war out with it. The idea is that you follow the career of a company through the campaigns and see if they can survive. The answer is usually no, because SASL can be brutal. Anyway, My most recent attempt to do this lasted two scenarios before I had to pack it all away again. That's the real problem: packing it all away after each session. The other problem is keeping it safe from the cats. Feline On-Board Artillery is a known ASL problem and has its own rules section (honest!). Anyway, after a bit of reorganisation of my office/games room, I now have a desk with doors on so that the FOBA can be kept out and the game can be left set up. It's not perfect but it has afforded me the opportunity to see how my company fares in its next mission without having to finish the mission in one sitting.

Through the war with a German infantry company
My German infantry company conquered Poland easily enough (first scenario). Then they invaded Norway in April 1940 and broke through the Norwegian defences (second scenario). It is now May 1940 and they have been told to Take the Highway. They must secure a road network and clear the enemy from it. The road network is defended by French troops in this instance, but British and/or Norwegian reinforcements could turn up and support them. I reckon we are advancing up Gudbrandsdal in this scenario because it fits the Norwegian campaign history.

The situation: The sky is overcast and the ground is muddy due to the first melting of the winter snow. I have only my company under my command at the moment. Before us lies an open valley with stands of trees and villages providing cover for the enemy. "Vorwarts!"
Part-way through Turn 1
My left flank has advanced into position and encountered poor quality enemy troops. They are using the woods as cover to advance around the flank of the village to their right, which is our initial target. Sgt Linden on the right flank and most of his men are not happy and have not advanced. Fortunately some troops have taken the initiative and moved forwards anyway. My scouts, who are not on the map now, have identified a French Foreign Legion strongpoint in the first village the hard way. As we push forwards it suddenly begins to rain. Now it is not only muddy but we are soaked to the bone. On the other hand, the rain can help conceal our advance from the rear echelon enemy troops, so it is a mixed blessing.
End of Turn 2
As we advance, more and more of the suspected enemy positions prove to be empty. We are relatively fortunate. The 50mm mortars are shelling the woods just in case of enemies there. The enemy on the left flank are broken and we just need to put them in the bag. We should soon be able to concentrate our force on the village. Sgt Linden has found his courage from somewhere too. Unfortunately, there is a French sniper kicking around here, causing havoc with our discipline. Still, it looks promising for establishing a bridgehead here from which to launch our assault across the open ground to the easy (top of the map). Let us hope that it remains that way.

To be continued as and when I find the time.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Mid-June Progress Update - Painted Figures!!!!!

First up, some figures that have been sitting on my painting table part-painted for about a year. I finally got sick of seeing them sitting there and slapped some paint onto them quickly just to get them out of the way. Gods, I love the smell of dip in the morning!
28mm Barbax Gutripper (manufacturer forgotten)
These figures to represent Barbax Gutripper (from our Talomir Tales campaign) looked great unpainted on the stand at Derby over a year ago. Unfortunately, when it came to painting her, I suddenly found myself disliking the figures for no readily apparent reason. So, following some initial block painting, I finally decided to colour in the last bits, dip her, add some highlights and have done. A workman-like job if not top quality painting, but it will suffice for my purposes.

28mm Handgunners (manufacturer forgotten)
More figures for our Talomir Tales campaign. These guys were bought at the same time as Barbax above and suffered the same fate, although more due to my dislike of painting 28mm figures than my taking against the figures themselves. I just never felt inspired so they too have suffered the same way Barbax did.

15mm grav sled gunners (GZG)
15mm grav sled with gunners installed in the back
Bwendi grav sleds are used much like the technical of old. I stuck the gun and gunners onto a card pallet so that I could use the gun either on its own or in any of my transport vehicles. It slots neatly into the back of the grav sled or into the back of my GZG Bulldog trucks. Hey presto, instant convoy guard.

15mm Bwendi infantry company command (IFVs by QRF; dune buggy by Brigade Models; infantry by GZG)
The Bwendi infantry company is led by a command platoon that consists of the commander and his RTO in a Mebebque-class light transport vehicle with triple missile launcher turret and two weapons sections. The first weapons section consists of two heavy machinegun teams and the section commander. The second section consists of two RAFRAM mortars and the section commander. Both weapons sections are transported in a Callixalus ZT3 IFV armed with a 20mm autocannon and triple ATGM launcher to provide defensive fire support. The comms gear of the command platoon is closely tied in to the company scout troop to provide fire wherever needed on the battlefield.

The Landfall Monument (Peter Pig and Hirst Arts)
It is a longstanding Bwendi tradition to build a monument on the spot where they first set foot in a place that they intend to settle. The Landfall Monument on Banasdan shows the first Colonel Throckmorton P. Gladiolus surveying the newly united Ztumsia. It is built of local stone, as is traditional with a bronze statue atop the plinth. Since moving out to the stars, many Bwendi settlements now feature a similar Landfall Monument with the statue looking towards the point of first landfall.

Sunday 10 June 2012

RAF Tea, it's better than SHI Tea - What do you drink with your games?

So, what do you drink with your games? I tend to drink tea. If you are really lucky, I shall show you my tea station, my various teapots and start writing about the different teas I like at some point. I am just as nerdy about tea as I am about my gaming! However, the main reason for today's post was to share this video, which I was reminded of by this tea review. You may have seen it before, but I hope it still raises a chuckle.

Saturday 9 June 2012

15mm Imperial Strike Force for 'Alien Squad Leader'

I painted these figures ages ago as a one of the many versions of my Bwendi army. I have decided to repurpose them for Alien Squad Leader. Therefore I have rebased them. I did the rebasing ages ago but only got around to finishing it off last night as part of my tidying up old projects project. Now that I see them rebased, I am also contemplating experimenting with using these same bases for some of the larger skirmish games, such as Imperial Commander, to see how multi-basing affects the rules.

The force consists of:
Infantry -
  • 2 Command Shocktrooper stands
  • 3 Shocktrooper stands
  • 2 Support Shocktrooper stands
  • 1 Elite Assault Shocktrooper stand
  • All infantry have jump packs.
Transport -
  • 1 APC with Heavy Weapons

This gives 116 points of troops. To make a standard 100 point force, which seems to be the entry-level force, I would remove one of the Command Shocktrooper stands. If the ASQL game goes well, then I shall expand this force, but first I need to get their Redemptionist Rebel opponents painted. As is the case with most of my 15mm sci-fi figures, I have a massive overstock of Laserburn figures, so using them for alternative rules that call for different basing is one way of getting them into play. If I then do not like the rules, at least I have painted the figures and can rebase them or sell them as I feel is best come the time.

Friday 8 June 2012

June project?

I have just realised that we are eight days into June and I have not set myself a target for the month. I'm not actually sure what I should do. I have a vague notion of making terrain, because I need some for a WHAA scenario I have in mind that will feature one of Brother Cedric's minions infiltrating the illegal fighting pits of Treyine. I also need more 15mm sci fi terrain, so I should aim to get some of that done too, but I am not sure I have the enthusiasm for scratch-building terrain right now. I am also in a bit of a quandary about exactly how to build my sci fi terrain. I don't want to start building it as free-standing items and then change my mind half-way through to terrain modules. I am currently torn between just playing on a cloth or flocked board with free-standing terrain elements or building a set of terrain modules. I think I would prefer the latter, but my usual GHQ terrainmaker system is currently leaving me dissatisfied because of the poor quality control. I have done a little experimentation with making my own hexes using a template and a hot-wire cutter. That seems to work nicely enough. For 15mm I think I should make 6" hexes instead of 4" so a trip to B&Q to pick up a sheet of 1" polystyrene is in order. At £7 or so for an 8' x 4' sheet, I should have plenty with just one sheet for a small set. Not sure how I would fit it in the car though! :-)

So, all that rambling aside, my goal for June is to work out what my goal for June is. Well, sort of. I plan to continue painting 15mm sci fi, clearing up several half-finished projects. I shall review the terrain issue and hopefully get on with making some more terrain but I am not going to commit to much of anything, because I have too much 'real' work to do that will get in the way of the fun stuff.

Thursday 7 June 2012

More 15mm Sci Fi - Bwendi logistics and tanks

I put the finishing touches to these last night. First up is a GZG grav sled. This was a freebie with the Christmas special offer and came with a rotary cannon and two crew for the back. I have based the cannon and crew separately so that they will fit in the back of this grav sled, but I can also field them dismounted or use the sled for cargo. I have a number of cargo modules based up on 'pallets' designed to fit in the back of my trucks and other transports. I like flexibility!
Grav sled bringing supplies to the front.

The unladen grav sled returning home
I also completed the tank platoon for Bwendi 2300. All tanks are from GZG and are based on the Cougar chassis. The platoon consists of one command troop (1 command tank and 1 anti-aircraft tank), and two tank troops (1 command tank and 2 other tanks). The command tanks are armed with a large energy cannon barrel. I have not decided yet how that fits the Bwendi 2300 background yet, but it may become a 300mm close-support gun, because that is the approximate size of the barrel. The anti-aircraft tank has a twin 40mm autocannon set-up. The ordinary tanks carry 150mm hypervelocity smoothbore guns. All have the latest communications arrays and grid links, as well as natty little pennants with the Golden Frog of Bwendi on them.
All tanks on parade
All tanks showing off their best sides!

Wednesday 6 June 2012

May Progress - The Bwendi Army Takes Shape

May did not provide much opportunity for painting, but I did manage to get a bit done on the 15mm sci-fi project. Mostly I spent May marking undergraduate essays and exams. The horror, the horror! For that matter, what idiot thought that feed-forward was a good idea? I mean, that does not even make sense when compared the proper meaning of feedback. Sure it must have sounded like a good idea to them, because of the superficial relationship linguistically between the 'forward' and 'back' elements, but it totally misses the point of what feedback really means and how it should be implemented. Oh, I despair for the human race. Rant over.

The Bwendi army is really taking shape now. I have completed two platoons of infantry and a bunch of other odds and ends. So, rather than wasting verbiage, here are some pictures that should massively increase the effective word count of this post:
Two platoons of Bwendi infantry
 As you can see, one platoon is based individually, while the other is based on stands. My reasoning is that if a game gets so large that I shall need more than just one platoon of infantry, then my laziness will indicate a willingness to compromise on how I position the figures. That is, I don't want to waste all night moving individual figures. (Infantry by GZG. Vehicles by QRF with bits from GZG added)

The standard Bwendi infantry platoon consists of:
1 command section comprising:
  • 1 lieutenant
  • 1 RTO-grid specialist
  • 1 senior sergeant
  • 1 runner
  • 1 sniper team comprising sniper and spotter
  • 1 GMS team comprising gunner and loader.
3 rifle sections, each comprising 3 rifle teams. Each rifle team has:
  • 1 team leader
  • 1 rifleman
  • 1 gunner
The gunner in the lead team carries an advanced combat rifle and a light missile launcher. The gunners in the other two fire teams each carry a heavy advanced combat rifle.

Transport for each platoon is provided by 4 Callixalus-class IFVs. The command section has a command IFV with 90mm hypervelocity cannon, while the standard IFV features a 20mm autocannon. Each IFV has a crew of two: driver and commander/gunner
1 Platoon

Close-up of the command IFV (left) with a standard IFV
Close-up of a standard IFV

1st (Salisbury) Scouts

Named for the scout troop to which one of the first Colonel Gladiolus belonged, the 1st (Salisbury) Scouts fulfil the role of forward observer, scout and sniper at various times. The scout troop comprises three HAMR teams led by a Sixer, who is also the spotter for the first team. The spotter on each of the other teams is a Seconder, who provides leadership for those teams when they are working individually. Each team has a Mebebque-class light transport armed with twin MGs and a sophisticated communications array that permits the team to request and control indirect fire from whatever level they have been given permission to access. This can include taking control of company command missile launchers or even ortillery when the need arises. (Figures by GZG. Vehicles by Brigade Models)
Fixed position missile launcher and an anti-tank MAWP
These are both freebies that I received with orders to GZG at Christmas. I am not sure how to fit them into a skirmish game easily, although the ML could be an objective for the enemy to destroy. I would like a few more of the ML so I can fix them into a firebase for the enemies of Bwendi to attack. The ML represents the sort of standard firepower available to the scouts. The MAWP could also be attached to the scouts when they are in a tank-hunter role, or it might be attached to the infantry when in a static role. To my mind it is unlikely to have the speed to keep up with the IFVs when travelling. Perhaps I need a version of it on a trailer for the IFVs to tow.
The Colonel with his missile-launcher armed Mebebque-class light transport and his new bodyguard
I bought these Vadorian assassins from Critical Mass a while back because I liked the figures and I thought they might be good as 15mm Xeogs for 5150. They are now the Colonel's elite bodyguard. The missile-launcher armed dune buggy is a Brigade Models Javelot. The idea is to provide company commanders with one of these each. They and their runner can use it as a mobile command post, and the scouts can call on its firepower to help dig the infantry out of holes.
Survey team and transport
The Phlyctimantis-class heavy survey transport carries a massive sensor array for planetary survey duties. It is usually one of the first vehicles to be deployed on any non-hostile planet, usually with a team of four survey scouts. I painted this because it was looking at me hard, even though it is not directly related to the main Bwendi project.