23 August 2014

Dux Britainniarum: Playtest 2

We had our second play test of the DuxBrit at the Hobby Bunker last Thursday night. We played the Border Tower Raid. Although, I thought we had the rules down pretty well, many questions again arose which I will go over at the end of the photos. The combat and movement all went well, there is a very simple engine to the game that is easily remembered.

It is a straight forward raid with a British Noble and 2 units out on a recon mission. The Angles have to capture the Noble to have a successful raid. Below you can see the basic terrain with the Border Tower in the farground. A river runs almost the full length of the terrain. This was placed before the game started. Otherwise 4 pieces of terrain was placed by each of us in alternate fashion with the Angle player going first. We then through a D6 to place the tower, as well as D6's to decide each of our starting positions. Adam additionally threw a D6 to see how many units he got to start with.  
Here si looking towards the tower, the rivers are from Wargamers Terrain, a local Massachusetts  concern run by Joe Linares. He was excellent to deal and really provides a first class service and product. I can highly recommend him. These are his FlexRivers Delux. They come in green, blue or brown water, I picked brown in a 3" width. I am enormously pleased. You can also see one of his swamps below. 
The river was a major obstacle, the swamp and trees medium obstacles and the hills a minor obstacle.   The fence around the hovel is a linear obstacle. The Angles started mid way up the board on the far side of the rivers. They had 2 groups to start. The Britons were also mid way up the terrain but on the near side of the river. The Briton noble had two groups of warriors with him. If I remember correctly the Angles started with their lord and two unit of elites.
The Britons started the rest of their troops within 6" of the tower.  This included their elite unit, 3 i=units of levy and their slingers. The Angles brought on their other units in the second turn as their cards were drawn.
The Briton Noble and his two units of warriors
The Angle Lord and his champion with two elite units.
The Briton levies advance to protect their right flank, while the slingers advance to cover the retreat of the recon group. The British elite group advances through the swamp to meet the Angles. 

The action heats up, it was very difficult for the Angles to the far left to cross the river. The penalty for a major  obstacle is -3 pips on each D6. Since 3D6 is movement you need at least a toss of 10 to even move 1"
The Briton warriors elect to enter the walled compound. Stupid!
The Angles decide to all head toward the escaping Britons, the levy move to counter the move .
Two groups of Angles combat the Briton elites.
The British warriors attempt to escape the rapidly approaching Angle elites. Step Forth cards are thrown about.
The battle turns against the Britons, their elites as well as one unit of warriors  have lost their Amphora
In a show of Bravado, the British Lord and his champion with the escaping Noble  turn around an attack the Angle  war party, they are thrown back but the Angles fail to overwhelm the British Nobles and they withdraw.

The Angles fail to capture the Noble, thus fail in their quest. We did not use morale in this game , I think that I lost 10 figures and Adam lost 6. I had three units lose their amphora and I think Adam had two units in rout. So it was a closely fought game with a marginal victory to myself.

So on to the points of confusion that arose in this game, again the TFL Forum was instrumental in clarifying things.
  • Card Sequence: Cards are only played on activation of a Noble, not at any other time. If a card is played in response by the non-phasing player, then that activation may take precedence (the example being the Step Forth card being played in response to a possible attack). The phasing player can change his initial plan and does not lose his cards if already played.
  • Unattached Nobles Movement in Varying Terrain: No clear rule, will go with the same modification as harassing troops.
  • Attaching and Detaching Nobles: Is at no cost and can be carried out twice in a single activation. What I missed is that an attached Noble does not suffer the reduction in command range to 3" if he is NOT engaged in combat.
  • Missile Kills on Formations of Units: Per firing player, may select one unit in a formation.
  • ZoC: If an attacking group fails to engage in combat because of failure of movement, the ZoC does not stop the attacking group at 4".
  • Movement through Varying Terrain: No hard and fast rule but Rich Clarke suggests the following; Imagine the obstacle is some boggy ground which reduces movement by one pip per dice. That ground is 5" away from your unit. You roll 4, 2 and 6. I'd let you move 4" with the first dice as you can move that full distance without getting into the bog, but then the 2 and the 6 are both reduced. The truth is, you can use any system you like for this, so long as you're consistent in a game. But that's the one I prefer. 

By the way Adam has some excellent photos on his blog the Fencing Frog.

21 August 2014

Winter War: Soviet Vehicles

T-26 and BT7
I finally got these vehicles finished. I really found the Winter War camouflage scheme a bit of a challenge and I can see from the photos that I still need to do some work.

All the vehicles were primed with Vallejo Russian Green Primer, they were then drybrushed and some details were painted. I then did a wash using the Citadel Shade Athonian Camoshade. This is a great product for any WWII military project. I then applied some Vallejo orange rust effects. The models were then gloss varnished and allowed to dry. I used the hairspray method for the Winter Camouflage. Two applications, allow to dry and then they were airbrushed in spots with white. I probably could of applied more but I tried to make it translucent rather than opaque. Maybe a mistake. Most of the delay was because I had a shitty cheap Master Airbrush which kept on screwing up (mostly my fault I presume). however last week I got an Iwata Revolution CR, like night and day for sure. Anyway so I used a q-tip to chip off the white and then applied some Secret Weapon rust effects on the tracks, as well as some Citadel Dry Necron Compound. Finally some snow flock was applied to different areas. I think I need to clean off the rust and the snow a little more as noted above. I think they could have come out a little better but they will work.

I tried to get a good selection of early Soviet vehicles and most of them should be useful also for the excellent TFL supplement that just came out for Chain of Command, Operation Winter Storm: The Drive for Stalingrad, December 1942. This looks really good. I already have purchased some mid war Soviets Tanks, including some T-34's, SU-76's and an SU-122. Just have to finish off the rest of those CP Soviets figures.
Some Zis-5 trucks, the main transport for the Soviet army through out the war. These are metals from  Shellhole Scenics. They were nice models, but a little smaller then 1:72 PSC.

All the decals are from Aleran Miniatures.

One of the trucks as a Quad Maxim HMG.

I was curious about S-Model miniatures, they have an expanding range of 1:72 vehicles. I ordered them directly from China, I was shocked at how quickly they were delivered, within 1 week.

They are nice builds, the stowage is excess from PSC and from an Italeri box of battlefields accessories. 

It took me a little bit of time to figure how to put them together I found the tracks challenging initially but once figured out they were fine. The turret was a little difficult to assemble, it would have been nicer with less pieces. They supply you with brass cannon though which is a nice touch for a plastic assembly.

Here we have KhT-26, a variation of the T-26 with a flamethrower. This is from Shellhole Scenics as well. It os certainly a little smaller then the S-Models, but I am OK with it. It is a metal build.

Here we have a T-28 from Shellhole Scenics. It is a monster tank with 3 turrets. The body is resin with the tracks and turret being metal. I think they are planning to convert all their vehicles to this combination.

Very nice model.
Here we have two BT-7's from Pegasus Models plastic range, these are very well priced and all though quite simplistic in their construction are well suited for wargaming.

Alos from Pegasus is these two armoured cars, they are sold as BA-6's but I am sure you could use them as a BA-10. Again very simple, but a cheap useful model.

17 August 2014

Chain of Command at The Hobby Bunker

After 9 months, I finally got in a game of CoC at the Hobby Bunker. I had played 3 games previously games in a Soviet campaign but that went dead before we finished the campaign with our last game in January. I had started painting platoons as well as gathering terrain for both a Normandy and Winter War campaigns. My real challenge was that I started my project in 20mm or 1/72 and most local gamers have 15mm FOW armies or 28mm Bolt Action armies. I had already painted a German and British platoon by the time I realised this so it was a little too late. I do really like 20mm for WWII though as I find the 28mm AFV's way too big for a 6x4 terrain (it is almost impossible to transport anything bigger especially if it involves bocage) and with 15 mm I just find it too hard to identify the individual weapons that the soldiers are carrying as is necessary in skirmish wargaming. The price and availability of options in 20 mm is also excellent. You can easily assemble a platoon and basic supports for one force for less then $50 especially if you use the excellent Plastic Soldier Company soldiers and vehicles. I have now painted 3 forces with excellent range of supports and am half way through my fourth, so I do not think I am going to change.

One of the guys Mike, who I met while playing the Soviet campaign voiced an interest in continuing to play CoC so I loaded up the toys this past Saturday and headed to Malden. Mike is quite an easy going fellow and has a lot of wargaming experience, so I find him a well suited player for me. I am much more interested in playing the game rather then winning, now if I only can talk him into painting a 20mm American force!

I am hoping to put together a Normandy campaign surrounding Operation Tonga in which the 1st Canadian Airborne Battalion played a large role. Saturday's game was really to test my terrain and reacquaint myself with the CoC rules. The terrain set up was roughly historical and involved a farm southwest of the LZ-V of the Canadian paratroopers and east of Le Mesnil Crossroads, one of the important objectives early in Operation Tonga.

So the terrain was set up as you can see, based on scenario 6 from the CoC rulebook with the farm as the German area and the canadian paratroopers arriving from the right in the below photo. Essentially the Canadian forces had orders to take the large barn inside the walled compound.We diced for sides and I won and of course took the Canadians. In CoC the paratroopers are an elite force with a rating of 8 and start with 6 Command Dice. Their opponents were basic German grenadiers with a rating of 0 and 5 Command Dice. The attackers have a support of 2D6 in this scenario with the defenders having half that. The defenders set up in a heavily fortified farm with high walls (block LOS and heavy cover) which are classed as a major obstacle. The terrain to the east is heavy with bocage and forests. Just east to the farm are several fields of crops, these are all broken ground and all have normal LOS except for the one cornfield which has light cover. One building was two story and offered an excellent LOS towards the east.
The German JOP's are yellow and the Canadiens are blue

So any way, I diced a 10 on 2D6 so I had 10 supports and Mike got 13 supports (5 + 8, the Force Rating difference). We also diced for Force Morale and I ended up with 11 and Mike had 10, both excellent. We kept our choice of supports secret but I took a HMG (4) and a Sherman tank (6). Mike from what I found out took a 8cm Mortar (4), a PanGr squad (5), 2 entrenchments (2) and some barbed wire (1). I am am not sure what he spent his last support on.

We were a little rusty with the rules but the game went relatively smoothly. We had never played with off table mortars before nor had we had HE fire on buildings, so a couple of new concepts to figure out. The patrol phase I thought went well, with myself advancing my JOP's half way up the terrain, but Mike locked me down before I could get beyond the bocage line. By then I was so into the game I forgot to take photos but I have marked on the photos as best as I can remember the JOP's for each side, I had 3 and Mike had 4 with one in the objective, the large barn.

I advanced my paratroopers quickly and brought on my HMG and Sherman relatively quickly, Mike kept most of his troops in reserve for both tactical reasons but also because my Command Dice (CD) were pretty hot. I think I had 4 double 6's in the game and a quadruple 6 and Mike I believe had only 1 double 6. Mike's mortar barrage was quite effective and kept one of my sections pinned for most of the game. I was however eventually able to take out his Forward Observer with a well placed high explosive shot from the Sherman. As I forgot to take many photos I will not go into the details of battle, but it really was one of attrition with my forces causing the Germans to withdraw from a failure of morale. There was one heroic combat with a section of paratroopers attacking across the high stone wall a squad of grenadiers, I won the combat by one with both sides taking heavy loses. Of course once my chaps got across the wall Mike dropped in a squad of Panzer Grenadiers who immediately opened up with their two LMG's and destroyed the section.

Neither myself or Mike played that aggressively, I think were both focussed on relearning the rules and maybe allowed the game to draw out a little. We only got in two turns and neither of us accumulated a Chain of Command Dice. We made a few errors, mostly omissions but generally the game went very smoothly and seemed to play out in a realistic fashion. I believe we both enjoyed playing and am feel that we will both play many more games.
The Panzer Grenadiers after the wiped out the 1st Canadian paratroop section. Hard to stand up to two LMG's 

3rd Canadian paratroop section advancing toward the farm

German grenadiers evacuating the store house after being hit by HE from the Sherman

The Sherman from the Trois Rivieres Tank Régiment and Airborne HMG team.

As an aide memoire, I usually list things that I had difficulty with during a game in my blog posts so here we go:

Leaders and Forward Observers: I still am having problems with testing for injury or death to Leaders attached to groups who suffer casualties. Today we just left the JL as the last man standing. We also treated the FO as a team rather then a leader. After reviewing the rules, it appears that JL are at risk for injury or death every time there is a kill and that a FO is treated in the same way as a JL. On page 39 (9.1.1). If a JL/FO is without 4" they can be specifically targeted, but only kills are taken into account. If within 4" then test for injury or kill on JL/FO if any kills on unit. Roll 1D6 if </= then kills then hit on JL/FO (good to roll high). If he is hit roll 1D6, on a 1 he is killed, on a 2 or 3 he is out of action for the turn. On a 4,5 or 6 he is lighted wounded and his Command Initiative (CI) falls by 1, so a JL now would have a CI of 1 rather then 2. The second time he is lightly wounded, he is out of the game. For a FO a roll of 1,2 or 3 is a kill, on a 4, 5,6 he is wounded and can not move for the rest of the game but can still initiate bombardment.

Hits on Teams: Hits are divided between teams that are within 4" of each other. If unequal and if in cover the defender allocates the hits to the team of his choice, if not in cover then the attacker allocates the odd hit. The attacker throws the dice for the Hits and the defender throws the dice for the saves.

Bombardment: I think Mike did a great job on this for our first go. It is a little complicated as the FO can call for bombardment or ranging shot. Essentially on the first activation (CD roll of 1) of the FO team nothing happens, on the second activation a marker is placed on the table. A 2D6 roll is performed and the result from Table 9 is applied. A ranging shot only has effect if it was aimed at a specific unit and scores >8 on 2D6. If there is a direct hit roll 2D6 and apply Table 6 for measurement of kills and shock, you do not use the Table 5 to measure hits. If it was a barrage and on target then the effect is over 18 sqin. Here you check the Master Arsenal Table for the number of D6, medium mortars are 4D6. For every team within 18" throw 4D6 and apply Table 5 (effective range, unless in woods or orchards then close range) for hits and then test for kills and shock for successful hits on Table 6 while reducing cover by one. All troops are pinned in the 18sqin area for the rest of the turn. What we did not do is place smoke over the area for the rest of the barrage as LOS is blocked into the area while the barrage continues (time to make more smoke markers). If the ranging shot or barrage is off target, you still go through the above process but on an area as decided in Table 9. Essentially get a roll of 2 on your first throw you are going to end up deviating 6D6 from the marker. On the 3rd and subsequent activations the barrage can continue with the option of shifting the aiming point 6". If a ranging shot was fired initially you can call for another ranging shot but add +1 to the die roll for each subsequent ranging shot. The barrage continues through the phase and on each subsequent activation in the turn, but the smoke is removed at the end of the following phase. The barrage ends at the turn end unless a Chain of Command Dice is used. To activate a barrage in a following turn a D6 is thrown, on a 1 the mortars are lost for the rest of the game, on a 2 they are lost for the rest of the turn, on a 3 or 4 an attempt can be made in the next phase and on a 5 or 6 it is immediately available.

HE against Buildings: This went well for the troops but we forgot to test for building damage (10.3.6). The Sherman has 6HE, so throwing a triple 6 would cause instability, causing troops to have to evacuate on their next activation, failure to activate by turn end would result in a D6 being rolled for each with 6's resulting in a kill. On a throw of a quadruple 6, then the building collapses, each man inside rolls a D6, on 5 or 6 they are killed and the survivors are placed outside. I actually do not think this happened in yesterdays game, but something to remember.

Tank Turrets: Again this did not arise in yesterdays game, but a turret has an LOS of 120 degrees and a hull mounted HMG has 90 degrees. This is modified by the tank turret speed (some are slow and some are fast), our Sherman has a regular speed. A full activation to the gunner is required to rotate the turret to gain the appropriate LOS.

Attributes of Individual Troop types: I was running an elite paratroop unit. I missed that JL's in paratroop sections can activate on a 4 as well as a 3 and have 3 CI's on an activation with a CD of 4. They are aggressive troops, ie. in combat they ignore a loss by one and continue to fight.

Targeting in Buildings: In the advanced rule section on page 70, there are some rules for targeting troops in buildings, I like these and think they would have been good to use in our game. To target troops in a building either the attacker would have had to have a clear LOS when the target moved into a building or be within 18". Otherwise they would only be targeted when fire came from the building. The 18" rule does not hold for Vehicles targeting buildings, either they would have to see fire or a SL/JL would have to be within LOS on entry and then move to contact the Vehicle by touch to let them know. I would regard coming off a JOP as entry into a building.

Anyway I am sure I still have many things to learn from the rules, but yesterdays game was a great learning experience and a lot of fun, I can not wait for our next game.

10 August 2014

Dux Britanniarum: Playtest at the Hobby Bunker

Wow two posts in 2 days.

Last Thursday myself and Adam got in our first game of DuxB. We are planning a campaign, but we felt it was good to get in a couple of practice games first. Adam had never played the ruleset and I had played just two solo games. It has became obvious to me that playing solo is no way to learn a ruleset.

We played the farm raid scenario, with myself taking the Britons and Adam the Angle attackers. Essentially for the Angles to win they had to attack the farm, loot some stuff and then escape unscathed. In the pre game set up the farm was placed half way down the table. My entry point was the farm itself but I only got to bring one unit in on the first turn. Adam got to make 4 moves with his whole attacking force before I even got to place any figures!
Here we can see the basic layout. In the far ground are the Angles, all set to go, to the left within the farm itself you can see my missile troops (young boys with slings). They are just there to mark my entry point. I actually do not get to place any troops until the Angles have had 4 moves.

The terrain from anther angle. The trees are a medium obstacle for the troops with light cover and the crops are a minor obstacle with no cover. The fence is linear terrain with light cover. Doorways and gates in the fence are unbarred. (We played this wrong, I thought it was free but it is -1D6 on movement. 

Adam's 4 move headstart was quite successful as you can see as he has entered the farm and actually even has entered one of the buildings. Looking grim for the Britons.

I finally get to enter some troops on the table, I decide to bring in my Comanipulares (elite troops) , I really need to clear out the village. They immediately attack one group of Duguth (warriors) in the rear, while playing the Carpe Diem card as well as a Audacia card. This allows me to attack the Angles from behind (without it they could turn to face me), and adds 2D6 to my combat dice. The Duguth Lose their Amphora and flee. One down.

The Angles decide that an attack with another group of Duguth, these are driven back as well but my elites take some loss and shock. I must of got excited then as I forgot to take some photos. (Adam has some of this action on his blog, the Fencing Frog. the Angle Gedriht then arrive and defeat my Comanipulares. Very bloody action indeed.

Turn 1 ends finally and I start to bring in the rest of my forces as their card come up. At this point my  two groups of Combrogi (warriors) have arrived and driven the Angles out, aside from the Gedridht still trying to loot the cottage to the right. Unfortunately the Angles in the cottage to the house to the left have found some loot and are starting to flee. In the foreground you can see my Pagenses (levy) moving up to enter the fray.

The fleeing Angles with their loot, I have sent out my slingers to harry their journey.

Well as you can see the Angles are successful in escaping with their loot. I lost my elite troops as well as my slingers, but the Angles suffered dearly losing their bowmen, two groups of warriors as well as 8 of the Gedridht. All nobles survived. As we did not calculate a morale test at the beginning of the game, I gave Adam his first Dark Ages victory. Well played! The game played quite well despite the Angle's early advantage.

We made a ton of mistakes with the rules, but the game went very quickly and we had a lot of fun. We had several questions after our first game but most were answered by a re-reading of the rulebook, the others were answered on the TFL forum.

I thought I would list some of the points of confusion we had and in which way they were clarified.

  • Fate Cards: When a noble is activated he can use the Fate cards of either suit. The suited cards can not be played otherwise. The bonus of playing a suited cards is that it adds +1D6 to the combat D6 total if the Carpe Diem card is played. The unsuited cards can be played anytime ie. as an offense or defense.
  • Movement: Unless the group is moving up to a certain point (to include terrain features or joining another group), the full distance has to be taken from the throw of the D6.
  • Champion: Is attached to the Lord, if the Lord joins a group for combat the Champion does as well. He can not act independently.
  • Groups in Buildings: Do not offer support to other groups outside of buildings.
  • Movement through Unbarred Doors and Gates: Costs 1d6.
  • Activation: In respect to movement and going into formation, it can be done with one activation but cost 1D6.
  • Nobels Movement: Move for free when attached to group, otherwise costs 1 Activation.
  • Facing: A group can move in any direction without cost. It justs moves in that direction, it can turn around etc, with no cost. But at the end of movement it ends up facing in that direction. If the group then wants to change facing or go into an allround stance then 1D6 is subtracted from the movement. I had a tough time understanding this but when I got it it was quite simple.

We are playing one more trial game in two weeks and we will then start our campaign in September. I am sure we will have other questions from our next game and I will post them with our next playtest.

09 August 2014

Painting a Zuzzy Verdant Fields Latex Mat

I have been looking for a transportable mat for some time, it really is impossible to transport styrofoam terrain pieces. There are a lot of options out there and I have already purchased 2-3 mats. When it came down to it I just did not like what I had purchased.

I had come across Zuzzy mats on TMP so I said why not. It was $52 for a 4x6' mat which I thought a pretty reasonable price. You certainly have to be patient, as the wait list is 2-3 months. But what I got was well worth waiting for, it comes in a plastic sheath wrapped around a hard cardboard tube. It is make of latex and it has some very interesting characteristics. But why not let photos do the talking. I could not find many resources or guides to painting the mat, so I just went ahead and designed my own. I was looking for a colour scheme that would jump out, less importnat was a natural look.

The mat come in a green colour, I suppose I could have started from that but I find that a Raw Umber  is an excellent choice. I use Sargent Art acrylic paint, it is quite inexpensive and it dilutes easily. I used about a 50:50 water paint mix to lay down a priming coat. I should note that you are advised only to use acrylics on these mats.

Once dry you can see it's first interesting characteristic, there are essentially two different major textures to the mat, one more upright and ridge like and the other flatter with less detail. I of course use the upright for grass and the flat for the brown patches. It does take 24 hours for the first coat to dry well.

So next up is the grass. I apply the dark green initially as a heavy dry brush I used Winsor and Newton Galeria acrylic Phthalo Green, this is a very dark green but when diluted is a little brighter. It is then diluted to fill in the crevasses. You can see the two effects here. Try not to let the dilute paint bleed into the earth parts.

Next I use a mocha coloured brown as the first highlight on the earth, I used  Americana Sable Brown as a heavy dry brush. This is followed by a light dry brush of VMC Iraqi Sand.

I found that I needed to blend the two colours together at this stage to take them down a bit. I used a  very thin wash of raw umber. And I mean very thin, I let the mat dry then for another 24 hours.

Next up is a medium dry brush of a Grumabacher Sap Green, and then a slightly lighter drybrush of a 50:50 mixture of the Sap Green and Newton and Winsor Galleria Cadmium Yellow Light.

Final dry brush with the Cadium Yellow Light on the grass and VMC Iraqi Sand on the dirt. You can also see the second interesting characteristic of these mats; the imbedded stones which I have painted black.

Well all done, the final step was a successive dry brushes on VMC Neutral Gray and Citadel Ulthuan  Gray  on the stones. I take them down then with some Citadel Nuln Oil black wash. All done! Maybe a little garish in the photo, but under natural light the colours are a little more restrained.

Close up with all the details.

With some terrain........a quiet little farm in Northern Britain around 500AD.

Tree bases and hovel from Architects of War, Houses from 4-Ground. Wattle fences fron Renedra.

Crop fields made from pieces of Zuzzy mat and cereal strips from Tamjima1.