Thursday, June 21, 2018

Prairiecon 2018 - Battle of Blickheim, a "Team Yankee" Game

Ouch! Tough outing for the Royal Canadian Dragoons at Prairiecon...victory came at a price
So another "Prairiecon" has come and gone! This is Western Manitoba's main gaming event, held every summer in Brandon, Manitoba.  Conscript Dallas has been involved with Prairiecon for...longer than I can recall, so I will leave origin content to him, but as a group a few of us have been going to Prairiecon every year, something like 19 or 20 years, with Dallas even more? It's a real tradition, one I look forward to every year.

This year I am pleased to share reports of a heavy Conscript presence at the event, with three different demonstration games.  Dallas ran a fleet-scale "Battlestar Galatica" game.  Byron ran an exciting "Through The Mud And The Blood" WW1 game.  Our great friend Curt came out from Regina to host a special game of "Spectre".  And if that wasn't enough, we also ran a game of "Team Yankee".  That's a LOT of gaming!

The table at the outset of the game...the peace of the village of Blickheim will soon be shattered...
For today I'll touch on the "Team Yankee" game that was played on the Sunday morning at Prairiecon. The game was an opportunity to put the new Canadian units I had been working through the winter into play on the table.  The timing was fortuitous given that Battlefront has recently "released" its new Team Yankee book, "Free Nations".

Soviet elements prepare to move out on the assault
The scenario is we played was derived from the battle reported in the (fictional) book "First Clash" by Kenneth Macksey, which features the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in action against a Soviet ground assault set in a fiction Cold-War-Gone-Hot in the 1980s.  In Macksey's story, a moment in the battle arrives when the Canadian line starts to buckle, and the Canadian commander unleashes his reserve armoured Squadron, catching the Soviets by surprise, and blocking their breakthrough.

Soviet advance elements approach the McPizza king...they would soon learn the blue "objective marker" was, in fact, a NATO pre-registered artillery target!
Since the theme for Prairiecon 2018 was "It's a trap!", I set up the scenario with some mild deception.  The Soviet players, controlling a T-72 battalion with some attached infantry and AAA support, were told they needed to clear the village of Blickheim (home, naturally, to a critical 'McPizza King' location) of a lingering Canadian rear-guard, that the NATO forces were in retreat.  They would have eight turns to accomplish this.

The Canadians appear! Leopards and M150s move into firing positions
The Canadians, on the other hand, learned they had the opportunity to arrive from a totally unexpected table edge at a turn of their choosing - they have been working themselves into position through the late hours of the evening and into the morning, with the Soviet forces unaware their flank was vulnerable. This was a great advantage - which the Canadians would need, as the Leopard C1 tanks do not dominate the tabletop the way other modern NATO MBTs would in games of "Team Yankee".
Soviet armour burning after the ambush...
The game was well-attended, with several guests and observers participating.  Dallas led the Canadian side, with help from Byron and Curt, while Dave V led the Soviet side, with support from a few convention-goers.

Leopards try to move out...the obstacles ended up being tough to overcome, due to some bad luck with the dice...and you can see the Soviet's put an artillery aiming point on one of the bogged-down tanks, causing Canadian frustration and knocking out a couple of Leopards
The Soviet column rolled up aggressively, and uncertain of the location of targets, started to hit the town with heavy fire.  On the third turn, however, the Canadians emerged on their flank, and opened fire. A pair of US Cobra helos came along in turn four to add to the carnage.  Under Curt's careful guidance, they picked off several T-72s with TOW missiles before the ZSUs finally got to them.

Many Soviet tanks and BMPs were lost, but critical morale roles kept the large Soviet tank company in play to the bitter end.  The remaining T-72s dished out heavy return fire, knocking out many Leopard C1s.  The Soviet infantry also struck hard, neutralizing a bold flank maneuver by a Leopard C1 troop with their RPGs.  As the number of losses on the Canadian side mounted, it was in doubt for NATO...

Soviet infantry prepare their AT weapons...
But in turn eight, the Soviet side finally broke...a real nail-biter, and a pyrrhic victory as the Canadians were reduced to a mechanized infantry platoon (which was a little low on the 'mechanized' part due to losses in the fighting), a pair of Lynx recon vehicles, and a pair of surviving Leopard C1s, all that remained of the 12 tanks which started the ambush...

A Canadian Leopard C1 troop shows the impact of losses from infantry AT weapons...
A big "thank you" to everyone who came out to play, particularly to our great friend Curt, who made the trip from Regina.  Work has been very, very busy over the past month and a half (and as you can see, the blog posting and painting progress has been very sparse) and it was SO great to dive into a bunch of gaming and see so many friends once again.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

28mm Great War French and Verdun Battle Report!

It's always nice to see the back side of a painting project, don't you agree? In this case, it's the culmination of a massive amount of batch painting, to the tune of over 50 models at once. These are the Foundry "26mm" late-war French from the Great War period.

Test model in progress. This project was an unusual one in that I was trying not only to get some reasonably historically accurate colours on the models, but also to match 30-odd models that had been painted by another wargamer already. Let me explain... when friend of the Conscripts Glenn S. passed away suddenly in 2015, he left behind a sizeable collection of models in all kinds of scales, painted and unpainted (and in stages of painting, as you might expect). One of Glenn's passions was the Great War, and I was fortunate to be able to purchase his collection of Great War models from his estate. Some were unpainted, but many were painted, including over 30 late-war French in horizon blue.

Unfortunately the exact formula for Glenn's paintwork died with him, and although I had sourced another 50-some castings to make up a viable "army", I was at a bit of a loss as to how to paint them to match. Happily though (and after a bit of a false start) I hopped down to our local GW and chatted with Mark, who made some suggestions to match the horizon blue.

This ended up being a basecoat of Thunderhawk Blue, heavily drybrushed with Celestra Grey, and finished with a slightly diluted Coelian Green wash. Presto - the T'hawk Blue worked well as a base and the greenish hue of Coelian Green shaded it nearly perfectly. Glenn's models are still a half-shade lighter than mine but not enough to really complain about. Here is the proof:
Newly painted at left; Glenn's at right
And here's some more shots of the group:

These are Glenn's paintjobs

To "blood" the new French we set up a Verdun game. It seemed apropos that it was scheduled three times before we finally played.

The scenario had the French attacking the ruined village of Fleury. They had eight turns to roust out the German defenders, who numbered about half of the French force.

The attack started with a gas barrage, which took a few casualties off the Germans, but accidentally decimated a French command section as well!

French infantry make their way across the cratered hellscape.

Captain Lefebvre, the sole Frenchman to make it to the German lines, prepares to sell his life dearly!

Others infiltrated forwards through a communication trench to the German front.

Storming party ready to retake the ruined village!

In the end, despite the French numerical superiority, the attack ended in failure as the Germans held onto the ruined village. C'est la guerre :-|

However, in the true spirit of France, I set up the whole painted army on the terrain for a little impromptu photo session for propaganda purposes. The trench boards are so atmospheric it'd be a shame to let the opportunity go to waste.

I really like the Foundry Great War range, despite its infuriating incompatibility with any other modern range of WW1 models. Fortunately though, the Foundry range is pretty comprehensive - I just realized that I forgot to photograph the two 75mm guns and crew that I'd painted! Zut alors - but perhaps a mini-post of those models will be in the cards for the future.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

House Hawkshroud Imperial knight

I finished my Imperial Knight a few days ago and finally got around to taking some pics. I'm fairly happy with it, though I won't win points for originality. Most Imperial Fist players seem to go with this house for obvious reasons. I tried to resist, but ultimately I preferred the bold look of Hawkshroud compared to the others Houses. Plus, I'm on a roll with yellow!

The decal was modified to add the fist.