Monday, August 31, 2009

Battle Report - Tough night for the BAOR

BAOR High Command prepares to repel Soviet assault on the North German plains.

Last week the conscripts assembled at my place for another great 1/300 game set in an imaginary World War 3. For rules we used an adapted version of Epic 40k - blast markers and all, although the basing scheme was the same as Spearhead i.e. one base equals a platoon. The table was 6'x4', with the Warsaw Pact entering on one of the short edges, and attempting to overrun as many objectives as possible.

The scenario featured a full Soviet brigade of two BMP-2-equipped Motor Rifle battalions and two T-80U battalions backed by a battalion of SP 122mm guns and a flight of Hind attack helicopters all trying to run over three BAOR combat groups (painted by Mike F) and a mixed battalion of Bundeswehr tanks and panzer grenadiers. The BAOR had a mix of mechanized infantry in Warrior IFVs backed by Challenger I MBTs and SP 155mm artillery. They also had one dismounted battalion of infantry. NATO also had a flight of US Apache gunships on hand for assistance.

Mike F's excellent GHQ brits - looked great, even as they got hammered.

To add some threat to the game, NATO received two fire missions of "precision guided munitions" - artillery specifically designed to knock out tanks. For their part, the Warpac players were given a fire mission of non-persistent chemical warheads for use with their 122mm howitzers.

Dave V, Bill and Brian rolled out with the Soviet forces. Mike F, Mike B and Cam went with NATO.

T-80s take losses in the face of some MILANs on Overwatch. The battalion commander took umbrage, and dialed up a MAD response...

Overall, it was a rough outing for the BAOR/NATO force. They had bad luck on command rolls, helicopter attacks and especially artillery spotting (suffice to say their SP 155mm moved more than it fired - was that kind of night). While NATO did manage to use their PGM artillery (a round-type which had been devestating in a prior modern Spearhead game), it had a negligible impact. Most success came from infantry units on Overwatch firing their ATGW systems (MILANs and TOWs) - they wrecked many T-80s, but not enough to stop the red tide.

British artillery - too much driving, not enough firing...

On the other hand, the Soviet command did not hesitate to make use of their chemical munitions against the first BAOR unit to give them a hard time - in this instance, the poor dismounted lads dug into a hill in the center of the table. The impact was dramatic, and the hill was quickly vacated as the squaddies fell back in disarray.

There is a funny smell on this hill...

Brian, Dave and Bill were a picture of Warpac efficiency, concentrating massive fire against the different NATO formations in each turn, while the Hinds stalked the battlefield strafing survivors.

The mood of NATO was best captured by Mike F, who compared the Hind to Mobey Dick, and urged that all efforts be exhausted to knock the thing out of the sky...which they managed to do. However, they could not stop the two Soviet battalions bearing fully down on a bridge that was a key objective.

We called the game after six turns, with the Soviets about to achieve a clear victory, and the British were checking the highway maps for directions to Dunkirk! Thanks to everyone for coming out to play. Mike F continues to paint up new, awesome looking stuff for his British force. I anticipate that some more Challengers, and some AAA vehicles, will be up next!

"Moby Dick" prowls the table.

In the meantime, a parliamentary inquiry will be in order to investigate the loss of an ENTIRE component of the BAOR battlegroup. The West German parliament may investigate as well - assuming there is still a West Germany to host it...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

World War Three - It's Epic man!

BAOR to Warpac - bring it on, proleteriat!

Tonight we'll be playing 6mm World War Three, using a modified Epic 40k rules engine. The level of abstraction will be the same as Spearhead - each base will represent a platoon, and the infantry and IFVs will be based together.

The modifications to the Epic 40k engine will have to do with the use of ATGW - thinks like TOWs, Milans, Spandrel's etc. Unless the unit is a dedicated ATGW vehicle - like the BRDM missile carrier for the Soviets, Swingfire for the Brits, attack helicopter etc - ATGW can only be used on Overwatch.

Also, mindful of some recent commentary that artillery is apparently not "deadly enough", we'll try to fix that a bit! And if "Chemical Cam" is able to make it to the game, watch for some provocative MAD action. To keep the arty in check, Forward Observers will have to be used - unlike Epic 40k where the guns let rip on anything the player can see on the table so long as they roll a successful sustain fire order.

Other hints for tonight's game? Well, what would NATO be like if the war at sea did not proceed with Tom Clancy, towed-sonar-array precision in NATO's favour? How much fuel and ammo would those Challengers have left three weeks into the fighting? And given the fine reputation of British manufacturing, how would those Challengers do in a real shooting war?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Epic 40k battle report - Conflict on Toxo IV

Table showing the three "sludge production sectors" that were objectives.

Last night Dallas hosted a game of Epic 40k, pitting the Tau against the Imperial Guard for full control of some vital toxic sludge plants. It was the battlefield debut for my Epic Tau. Yes, that's right - Epic Tau from Forgeworld. What the f***k was I thinking? Well, I got them - years ago! and I managed to paint them. Last night they went into battle! I have to say I am pleased to finally have seen them on the table.

The Tau had a cadre of Crisis Suits, Stealth Suits, Broadsides, Hammerhead tanks and infantry in Devilfish APCs. They also had some human auxiliaries, representing Imperial Guard units who had defected to their side in return for not having to worry about Commissars any more.

The Imperials had a storm trooper company in Valkyries, backed by Vulture gunships, a detachment of Sentinels, a mechanized infantry company and a tank company, backed by a battery of Basilisk artillery pieces.

Cam, Mike F and Brian took the Tau, and Dallas and Bill rolled out with the Imperial Guard.

Imperial Guard storm troopers enter "flavour country"

The scenario was a classic "take two out of three" objective grab - each ojbective representing an important sludge factory, along with the housing which would naturally be concentrated very close to it so as to maximize worker productivity and minimize commuting.

The Tau started in control of the three objectives, but could place only their traitor milita on the table. The Imperials would be allowed to "drop" their storm troopers and sentinels in on the first turn, and from there it was all on!

The Tau move out from their occupied objective, led by their Hammerhead gunships.

The storm troopers made a tough assault in the first turn, capturing a sludge plant and defeating a traitor infantry platoon and artillery battery. This was a great firefight, as Dallas and Brian tied the result rolls again and again, meaning that round after round was fought.

A Leman Russ tank company - one of the most devestating units the Imperial Guard can get.

In the second turn, Bill rolled the mechanized infantry in to capture a second sludge sector, while the Tau concentrated on the third. Realizing they would need to capture a second sector to win the game, the Tau side began a careful advance against the storm troopers and the sentinels.

Tau deploy from their Devilfish APCs - thanks to markerlights elsewhere on the table, the Devlish can send guided missiles all over the place to p*ss off their opponents.

The upshot of the careful advance was a lot of headaches for the storm troopers and sentinels, and especially for Dallas, who got to enjoy exposure to the mobility of the Tau suits, markerlights etc. While the Tau were not able to kill many units in the factory sector, they did wreak havoc with their weapons which caused extra blast markers.

Mechanized infantry secure an objective.

We called the game for time a little after midnight - each side had one sludge sector firmly in control, and the third was contested. The final turn was a bit of an anti-climax, with both sides failing to issue engage orders successfully, meaning that what would have been a wicked cool firefight was falling down toward a Verdun-style grind for both sides.

It was great to play Epic 40k again - I just love the rules. The Tau are definitely tough in the game. The suits are super-mobile, the Hammerheads are lethal and the markerlights and guided missiles, while not causing too much harm on their own, made the Imperial players mental ("the missiles come from where???"). While I can't say I will be adding more Epic Tau figures (which don't seem to be that available from Forgeworld anymore regardless) I will paint up the Epic Tau flyers that I have, and I may try to convert my own Manta using 40k bits so they can take out Titans.

Thanks to Dallas for hosting, and for everyone who came out to play! I definitely enjoyed it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wheels for GünSchwarm

Well - technically - "treads", but Gün grenadiers will finally get a lift to their encounters with FuturKom and the FutureBritz. I looked at a variety of exotic options, including some models from Old Crow, but in the end, opted for what was on hand in my collection - Chimeras!

Painting this vehicle took almost no time at all, because I simply repainted one of my other Chimeras - one that used to support the "blue" army. This worked out great, because I despise assembling the Chimera model. I don't want to strip the APCs away from my "blue" guys completely, but I figure I will be able to recycle at least two more into the tan GünSchwarm colours to provide a mechanized platoon to support the next battle!

The Bundes-Guard

Followers of the Blog will have seen the discussion between myself and fellow Conscript Dave V regarding the most recent Imperial Guard Codex. I posted a rather harsh review, but I did concede the fan boy is still in me somewhere. Dave, in turn, posted some ideas on a solid new 1500 point army list using the new Codex, with a kind of Bundeswehr theme to them. The progress has been slow by my usual standards, but some finished stuff is finally starting to crank out of the machine. Here are a few pictures.

I tried to go for a "flecktarn", modern camouflage look, similar to what Dallas and Mike F have achieved with their Bundeswehr figures. Not sure I got there, but at least they look camouflaged. The eagles, skulls etc. which I would have always picked out on my previous guard projects have been muted almost into the camouflage - I wanted them to look as much like troopers as possible.

For the APC, there was a good discussion on the blog about trying to use a different vehicle, even a Razorback based on the latest acquisition by the German army, but in the end I stuck with the Chimera chassis, and opted to use a modified Predator turret on the vehicle.

For a symbol on the shoulder, I turned away from the plastic Cadian decal sheet and pulled out my DAK decals from Battlefront, selecting one of the Panzer division symbols to serve as a handy shoulder plate marking.

So far I have finished one squad (10 guys), one vehicle and a smattering of the command guys I will need (medic, vox-caster, a few different officers).

Up next will be more "regular" troops, and I am trying to figure out what to do to make the veterans looks a little different/elite. I hope I can remember what I did to the Predator turret (I kept many elements of the Autocannon, but the main barrel of the multi-laser) when the time comes to assemble the next vehicles!

Thursday Game - Epic 40k - Struggle for Sludge

Idyllic sludge production on Imperial planet Toxo IV.

On the Plant Toxo IV, the Imperial Governor marvels at just how hard it is to keep producing the toxic sludge which is vital for the Imperial war machine. First it was an air strike by Orks early in the New Year, damaging several factories and causing him to miss his first quarter quota (meaning his favourite executive assistant had to pay the price, and was now condemned to life as a fifth-class colon servitor).

No sooner had the factories been repaired, the dead workers recycled, and the investigation into the failed air defences completed, then the Tau invade the planet and capture the factories! In the ensuing weeks, terrible rumours have emerged as the Tau have taken over production, including reports of a foul collective agreement with the workers providing maternity leave, pay for overtime, and the right not to be summarily executed for missing personal daily productivity quotas. Such blasphemy can only lead to Chaos.

Now, he watches as the Imperial Guard prepare to carry out a daring joint air and ground assault to recapture the facilities from the Tau. He has shared as much intelligence as possible, and is praying the assault succeeds. The Sector Overlord has made it very clear who is next in line for “servitor conversion” if Toxo IV should fail to meet sludge production quotas for a second straight quarter…

Be sure to join us this week as I unveil my most shameful acquisition in the history of my hobbying - Epic Tau!

Toxic sludge from Imperial factories actually helps to create rations for the Tau.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dark Future - Battle Report and Some Thoughts

In Thursday's game, the Kansas City Vintage Sports Car Club and Beer Drinking Society (represented by Mike F., Bill, and Greg with assistance from me as the Dodge van driver) were bounced by the Department of Just-Us outlaw gang (Perry and Brian, with Dave V. and Wes as Bikers Mouldy and Skuller, respectively).
I set up the cars per one of the DF book scenarios, the KC boys started at 60mph and the Outlaws at 80. I won't go through a turn-by-turn replay but suffice to say that despite havoc wreaked by Perry with the 40mm grenade launcher, and Wes's coining of the memorable catchphrase "the Skuller loves it!!" the Outlaws were owned by turret-mounted love from the KC crew:

"KABOOM!" Betcha didn't know there was a hydraulic ram under your car, Brian...

"The Skuller loves it!!" (that's him flying through the air)

Dodge spins out after pwnage by 40mm GL

Well, the game was short, anyway. I can see why DF wasn't a runaway hit for GW. For one thing, it couldn't have been comprehensively playtested. Despite the die roll upon die roll required for just about everything (something like 5 die rolls required to generate a random track section) it seemed like some basic concepts were just missed.

There were a few thoughts I have for future games:

1. It's gotta be harder to hit things. The ranges in our game was often 2-3 spaces which means a base of 2+ or 3+ on a d6. If the weapon is turret- or hood-mounted that's another +1, plus the base accuracy of the weapon (+1 for an MG) and it was often the case that a miss occurred only on the roll of "the Scottish number". Look, with dudes flying along the post-Apocalyptic highway at 70mph+ it's gotta be harder to hit than 5 times outta 6. It just does.

2. Weapons can't be allowed to fire in every phase of the turn. (In DF the turn is divided into 6 phases, and cars move in up to all 6 of them, depending on speed - basically a car moves in every phase the value of which is less than the car's speed in mph divided by 20, rounding up. A car going 70mph moves in phases 1, 2, 3, and 4; a car going 20mph moves in phase 1 only; a car going 110mph moves in all 6 phases, etc.) HOWEVER a car can take an "action" (e.g. firing a weapon) in EVERY phase of the turn in which ANY car moves, regardless of whether it actually moves itself. For example, if a duel involves a car going 20mph and one going 120mph, each car could take 6 firing actions in the turn. I would change this to provide that a weapon can fire only once per turn, save lasers which would be limited to one shot every two turns.

I think that these changes would prolong the game somewhat and make it alot more fun. I guess we'll see next time we play, probably a rematch. Maybe the KC boys are headed back to salvage the wrecked Dodge when they encounter the outlaws again?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thursday game - Dark Future

"Dark Future - The Game of Highway Warriors"

Mal Hawkins was a happy man. The president of the Kansas City Vintage Sports Car Club and Beer-Drinking Society was at the wheel of his 1965 Shelby GT350 with an open road ahead and his club-mates behind. They were just returning from a run into the deep countryside, well outside the Policed Zone, to pick up an old Dodge A100, a perfect parts hauler and tow vehicle for the club. It was a beautiful sunny Saturday in August, the weather was perfect and the tarmac smooth. Mal was thinking about a cold beer at the clubhouse when his radio crackled to life. It was the voice of Jack Johnson - tail-end Charlie in his vintage Datsun 510 racer. You can never be too careful outside the PeeZee and Jack had two of the sharpest eyes in the club.

"Mal, this is Jack. We got multiple contacts coming up from behind, looks like a black-and-white, another car and a couple donor-cycles."

Mal flicked on his throat mic. "Roger that, Jack. Group, toggle on and fire 'em up, we have company." None of the club were currently Sanctioned Ops but most were ex-military or private sector security and knew what they were doing. Retired guys who like to have some fun with cars outside the PeeZee. Heavily armed, too - you had to be, and the rules on self-defence were somewhat... lax out here.

The radio crackled again. A gravelly voice spoke through the static. "Hey fruitcakes. This is Sergeant Shiv of the Highway Just-us Department. And like we say, 'there's no justice, there just us.' Heh. Pull those heaps over and pay the toll. It's not alot - just yer worthless lives!"

The radio static was cut by screams and the sound of automatic gunfire...

See you at the usual place at the usual time...

Up next for bonkers cavalry

This past weekend I joined Dallas and Curt to roll down to the local GW store for an army show-off type competition. Conscript Dave V was also there, and we proudly showed off some of our stuff. I had my "retro" Imperial Guard, Dave had his Eldar, and Dallas pulled out the ol' Chaos Dwarfs for Fantasy!

While the competition nearly prompted me to start another rant about the proilferation of absurd army base trays and overly scenic bases that in fact detract materially from the game, gaming and the minitatures themselves (maybe we can have a seperate army base competition? Because that piece really has a lot to do with the gaming and the figures, as a temple would be dropped from orbit....deep breath...deep breath...nobody cares Greg), in fact the competition has inspired another potential bonkers project among the Fawcett Conscripts.

One of the entrants - and I regret not figuring out who it was - had put together a pretty neat Cadian army, using lots of bits, and unifying scenery on the bases that was not overpowering or absurd. And coolest of all, this person had bashed together some Cadian Rough-Rider cavalry. It was a pretty cool effort, I think. The Cav looked really neat, and has inspired some plotting by Dallas, (which is about all it takes to get me plotting). Assuming we can pull it off, watch this fall for a Space Cavalry battle!

As part of the project research, Dallas turned up this link - holy cow, that is pretty awesome. What says "40k" more than cavarly equipped with a flame thrower? I'll never manage something like that neat (consistent application of green stuff across like 20 mounted figures? Not my skill set by a long shot!!!), but I hope to come up with something cool, and I know Dallas will pull off something excellent.

As for the competition, well, somehow the Conscripts lost out on the schwag. But there was a lot of cool stuff on display - lots of great painters and creative people out there in Winnipeg for sure! One army had like 10 tanks, another had a great variety of musicians - even an organ player! And while elaborate army bases and overly detailed figure bases are not my cup of tea, the painting and modeling skill behind the winning 40k entry was tremendous.

Space Cavalry - bring it on!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Housewarming party Aug 15th

Leanne and I will be having a housewarming party on Saturday, August 15th at around 7:00. If you're free that night please feel free to drop by. Just let me know if you can make it and I'll send you an email with more details.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

This Thursday - Introducing a "complex" man

The world's most complex man: "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Lucky Lager"

Our game this week will be staged by Curt C, the original Fawcett Avenue Conscript! Here is the setting from Mr. C:

Near the border of France and Spain, July 1666…The Duc d’Urbanville, a French nobleman, is acting as an emissary for the people of his region to the king of France. He is what some people politely term “a complex man”; he is a Basque, a Huguenot, a gambler, a rake, a duelist and somehow not surprisingly, a defrocked ex-priest. Nevertheless, due to his high birth, wealth and social station he is also an extremely powerful man, and though hated by many he is courted by the elite of European society.

Though d’Urbanville carries a Royal Seal giving him security and great latitude while he makes his way to Paris, he has decided for the sake of security to travel quietly with his son, his household staff and a modest retinue of Scots mercenaries. In order to better facilitate the negotiations with the French king and his papist Cardinal d’Urbanville has brought along several Catholic relics and other gifts to present to the King’s household. D’Urbanville and his party have stopped for the night at a small village with an ancient keep, as it is the final way-stop for quite some distance.

Nonetheless, the doings of such a man as d’Urbanville has not gone unnoticed… Near to the Keep swords are being sharpened and flintlocks primed, with many men vowing that this night the Duc and his household will pay for its many sins.

Sounds pretty cool! See you all on Thursday.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Attack of the bad primer!

A little setback this weekend on the new 40k Imperial Guard project - attack of the bad primer!!

I generally use GW chaos black spray as the basecoat/primer (and it generally performs 100%), but in this instance it has eaten the face off my plastic sergeant, and generally defaced the guy holding the grenade launcher.

Maybe these guys could be test victims for that new Hellhound variant that shoots horrific poison gas?

Given that I usually prime my figs 10-15 at a time, I was lucky to escape with few casualties. Damn you primer!!!