Monday, May 26, 2014

Gaming with Curt...a Chain of Command AAR

Two weeks ago we had the pleasure of having globetrotter Curt, world famous for his annual painting challenge, and his lovely wife Sarah come visit us for an evening out and of course a good day of gaming. Curt himself did a writeup of his time in Holland here so I'll try to add some more pictures and details of the game. Browsing through the pictures though I realize we did not take phase by phase shots so let's see if I can make something out of it.
In preparation for the game we asked Curt which period he would like to play on the day and it became clear a game of Chain of Command was one of his preferences. Maybe this has something to do with his visit to Sidney and Lard HQ a week earlier? Anyway we were thrilled as CoC has rapidly has become one of our favourite rulesets.
We quickly created a scenario Attaque sur le pont des Pêcheurs which involved 2 German platoons needing to recapture a vital bridge to secure the advance for an armoured division nearby. So all was cool until I laid out terrain the night before and found out the river was too wide and would take too much space to accommodate a game for four platoons. Fortunately CoC has six ready to go scenarios in the book so we decided to pick scenario 6, attack on an objective, and have the Germans attack from two sides effectively creating two separate games. Easy. In a combined effort the Germans had to capture the centre of the village and hold it until the American Paratroopers had to withdraw from the table.
As we had four platoons we used the 'Bigging it up' rules from the book and it worked perfectly fine. I see a lot of discussion and suggestions at the Lardie forums these days but I personally don't see a need to change anything. Might there be an issue, which we did not experience, we just use some common sense (or a dice roll if things start to heat up) as in any other odd situation with whatever rules.

The game itself was divided in 2 sections with Curt playing the Fallschirmjager against Jacco's Paratroopers on the left and Rob playing a regular late war German platoon against my Paratroopers on the right side of the table. And two different games it turned out to be! While Curt cautiously advanced his FJ, set up a base of fire in a barn and slowly moved his observer in a good position Rob on the other end saw an opportunity from the first minute and immediately moved his first German section in the open in an attempt to outflank the Paratroopers. It was a misjudgment with huge consequences. The section was caught in the open by a quick deploying Paratrooper squad and from that point the German Heer platoon had to go all in in order to save the poor men and put pressure on other areas forcing the outnumbered Paratroopers to make choices.

The outflanking manoeuvre. if you take a good look you can see the silhouette  of a Para behind the hedgerow. He carries a .30 LMG :-)

While this may be Rob's specialty it did not work out this time. He was ambushed by deploying Paratroopers once more and when he went in for his final blow he was completely surprised to see another Paratrooper squad deploy shooting up another of his sections. Apparently the platoon was reinforced and more men emerged in the village than expected. Force rating was dropping quickly now (once this starts it tends to go fast) and Rob tried a last assault using the Stormtrooper trait but failed miserably losing another squad and more force morale which was close to zero now. His final attempt was to bring in the big guns when he drove a Panzer IV towards the outskirts of the village. It was too late though, when it arrived on the scene the only thing the crew saw were fleeing Germans. Time for the commander to throw his Panzer into reverse and save what can be saved.

Curt moving his troops forward carefully watched by Rob's rubber duck from the Challenge
I have to say Rob did some very bad dice rolling but with this game a minor mistake can have big consequences and Rob was forced into an attack he was not prepared for. Maybe he should have gotten his scary Panzer to the village sooner. Lucky me.
Meanwhile on the other side of the village the fighting was very close with Curt's FJ making slow progress into the village taking the first two houses while most of the Paratroopers lay down pinned due to a clever mortar barrage. I'm not sure what else exactly happened as I was having fun shooting up Rob's Germans but I remember well Jacco telling me Curt being a very smart player making good use of terrain and available options.  Just when the FJ were about to take the second house on the left side  of the village the regular Germans broke and all that was left of the Platoon fled off the board to safety
Now one platoon from the victorious Paratroopers secured the area while two almost full squads turned to the FJ to help out their friends. That would would be too much for the remaining FJ so we called it a game and opened another bottle or two to celebrate the day.

Third squad Paratroopers deploying behind the roadblock ambushing the advancing Germans
Curt preparing his advance by briefing his men in the barn
Jacco organising his defense
Jacco organising his defense II
A very effective FJ mortar team
FJ advancing into the village
Scary faces at the roadblock? the Panzer IV arrives
and another overview
One more
Last one
Finally the groupshot, taken early to avoid red eyes

Many more pictures of the game van be found on Photobucket

We all had a great day and though I struggle  at times to maintain the blog and to regularly visit others a visit like this makes me happy I started a blog in the first place.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New Warmats from Barrage Miniatures

In an ongoing quest to enhance my terrain I'm always on the lookout to see how others do their terrain and I get lots of inspiration from the blogosphere for this. For a while I've been impressed by the look of those teddy bear fur mats but I could not find a good source to get them. Making such a mat myself is not for me, I just lack the skills to do it so I had almost given up until the blogosphere came to the rescue.
Gaming with TooFatlardies, an excellent blog from Benito in Spain which I follow for some years now attended me to a Spanish company called Barrage Miniatures. They make stunning grassy and desert warmats if you ask me so I sent them an email to see what they could make for me.

What happened next is something I don't experience each day. The Barrage team was not only friendly and responsive, they offered to collaborate on the design of the mat so I would get the exact mat I wanted. So we decided on the size, hight of the grass (to be used for different scales) and colours while Alf and Clara from Barrage where sending me almost daily emails with progress. They had checked my blog and even sent me pictures of my minis on the mat using photo editing software. One thing I added during the process was to cut the mat in irregular shapes at one short end and make it a bit longer. That way it could be used to represent the border of a beach for example using the desert mat underneath the fur one.

Initially I decided to go for the fur mat only because their desert mat could only be folded in one direction. When I mentioned this limitation to Alf he promptly redesigned the mat using different materials. When he showed the redesign a week later and explained what he did to tackle this I was sold on the desert mat as well.
The whole process and interaction with Barrage was lots of fun as you can imagine. In just a couple of weeks the mats were made and with every update I received I got more excited. We have now used the fur mat twice and the desert mat will have it's first outing soon. The guys from our gaming group here love the mats as well and the first one already ordered an even larger mat for when we use our largest setup.

Now I need to take the next step and work on my existing terrain to better blend it into the mat and make or buy some templates to break the green and some new WWII houses and streets. Suggestions welcome.

On to the pictures so you can judge for yourself. I'm more than happy with the mats and can only highly recommend Barrage Miniatures. And no, I don't have any shares or involvement in the company :-)

Recent ACW game. These are confederates from Patrick Diedericks who ran a BP game at my place to get us familiar with the system. I recently met him (he found my blog through facebook) and he happens to live 2 minutes from me in the same village.
Rob's Irish Brigade testing the new ground

Recent CoC game. Jacco forgot to bring his Early Brits so we had to improvise: Early Germans vs US Para's. 

WIP, one of the updates from Barrage

The short side to create the beach

On to the desert mat

After the redesign, a flexible desert mat
They even sent a picture of one of my Chevy trucks on the mat using the magic of photoshop. Nice

For scale

Can you make hills? Yes you can

Rolled out the desert map and took couple of pictures of the mat with some LRDG vehicles and our palm trees

Bought a pvc drainpipe for storage, the mat is over 2x3m

The grassy mat as they call it comes with a free storage bag

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eureka Miniatures Early French Battalion 3

The third battalion for my Napoleonic Early French project done. This time it's a 24 man battalion plus command instead of the 36 man sized units I painted before. Our group here decided to reduce the standard battalion size a bit in the hope we can get them on the table a bit sooner. While 36 looks better I think 24 still looks OK but for painting it makes a huge difference. Well to me anyway, it's something psychological with those 36 sized units. When you start it it feels like a major project that will take ages to finish while a 24 sized unit feels just as another thing on the painting desk.
I will rearrange the other battalions so they gan go both ways but now I only need to paint 48 more to have six of them finished :-)

This was my final submission for the annual Painting challenge @Analogue Hobbies. It's in the fortnight theme bonus round which I recommend you to check if you did not already as there are some insane good entries over there. This is what I posted:
For the last stands in this years challenge I finally managed to get a decent sized unit done.  I love firing lines in an army. They are not the most practical for gaming but any of my armies needs at least one.
These excellent Eureka miniatures are initially painted for the Wars of the Third Coalition but I will allow them to be fielded up to 1807 and use them with a simple flag swap for the Revolutionary wars in Europe and even Egypt. So these battalions will give me a great base to expand on and paint up theatre specific units for the various armies in the future.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter War Finnish

Those of you who follow the challenge @Analogue Hobbies might have seen these riflemen before...

Inspired by the fun we have playing Chain of Command I started with these Finnish rifleman from the Baker Company kickstarter.
I did about half a platoon a few years back using Brigade games and  Battle Honors figures so I was overly excited when this Baker kickstarter arrived on the scene. Eager to get my platoon to strength I backed for a finnish platoon deal and hoped for the best. Especially when Baker company announced it would catch up to modern standards since their current range was outdated and not compatible to the current standard of miniatures. Unfortunately it didn't turn out exactly how I wished for.

 IMHO Baker has been a victim of it's own success and he started sculpting, producing and shipping thousands and thousands of figures like a madman. And yes, I do appreciate the energy and enthusiasm he puts into it but I feel he just forgot his first goal as I understood it: Get Baker Company on the map again with fine quality modern figures.
So it became a rush job and you notice it.  Flash everywhere, some weird faces and a couple of odd figures. A detailed inspection does not make you that much happier.
I decided to paint up a few and see how they turned out. I took them to my friends here for a final test (they are waiting for their Russians now) if I would continue with them. Well, obviously we found them good enough to give them a paint and have a few games. I was lucky I painted the other half of the platoon in a heavy mud look so I could throw all sorts of brown on those as well which helps camouflaging things.

In the end I'm happy how they turned out and I look forward receiving the extras for this kickstarter because for 60£ you get a lot, and I mean a lot, of extras. That, all the hardware you will get, and the fact these are Winter War makes the kickstarted worthwhile to me. I just hope Baker learned from this journey and sorts thing out when he starts his next kickstarter. We know he can sculpt well because there are good quality figures with these as well.

And the machine gun from Brigade games from the first half of the platoon I did previously. Just because I like this piece...

Complete platoon can be found here