Thursday, 30 September 2010

Desert Scenery

I have been painting some terrain pieces for Africa and am really pleased how they have come up. There are some building I think bought off the guys at SHQ.

The piles of rocks are from Peter Pig for their Patrols in the Sudan range, they are designed to be the edge of depressions and make brilliant positions for hull down tanks.

The fieldworks are from Ironclad miniatures, they are nice as they are desert style with rocks around the top rather than the usual sandbags. However there said they are going to remaster them and I can't find them in their current on-line list. I hope this is not the case as I would love to get some more.

A side note, the box they are on is a carry case from Kaiser Rushforth. Brilliant pieces of kit I first encountered for my Warhammer. I got this one direct from their website, free postage and they now do cases that fit FoW perfectly and so carry my Italians perfectly.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Club Night 24th September

At Colours Luke bought a set of modern rules called Ambush Alley. They have been about for a while and had good reviews and we have looked at them a few times, and so Luke bit the bullet and bought them as he really wanted to have a go with them. We dusted off the terrain from last years show game and swapped the US Marines for Israeli paras and tried to see how it worked.

On the night I was joined by Duncan and Luke was joined by new club member Luke. This wasn't going to get confusing! The first mission was for me and Duncan to rescue some contractors, clearly Israeli intelligence from a horde of angry Palestinians.

After a slow start as we tried to work everything out it ran really quickly. Duncan and I split our fire teams up and got mowed done in detail! Small units under a lot of fire-power are doomed. We quickly took too many casualties to complete our mission.

The second game saw us joined by Luke (the new one, not the old one!) and take 3 fire teams on a sweep and clear mission. Some atrocious luck and the inability to hit a horde of PLO standing in the open meant we again found ourselves on the back foot. however the fog of war saw fit to send us a sniper team and this seemed to be our saviour as the quality of this team was superb and managed to balance out the range advantage we had lost by the dust storm blowing across the table. Despite heavy casualties again the Israelis managed to achieve victory, but at a great cost.

These are really easy to pick up and play and have some clever ideas in, but I still have a concern about the firing mechanisms. Each firing figure gets a dice with bonuses for range and weapons, well the target unit gets a dice a figure then bonuses for concealment and cover. The actual type of dice rolled depends on the quality of the men. As such although insurgents generally have low dice, as bigger mobs they get more of them and it seems to make their fire more effective and them harder to put down. Now we may have been doing something wrong, or our dice were not that good, but it felt wrong. Not enough to stop me giving the rules another play, but enough I have some concerns.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Colours 2010

On Saturday 11th we headed up to Colour at Newbury racecourse with our Tanneburg game. After a long journey thanks to accidents on the M25 we finally arrived and got set up. We all seemed to be a little sleeps as the first few turns went quite slowly. As lunch approached we took turns in heading off to grab a bite to eat and look around.

I'm not sure if I am becoming jaded, but increasingly nothing is really taking my breath away, both in terms of trade and games. Don't get me wrong, all the games were good, but nothing sensational. Even the big Napoleonic in 25mm was a bit normal! I think the problem is the quality of game, both terrain and figures, has risen so high that what 5 years ago was amazing is common now and it is difficult to see how anyone can raise the bar the next step. The one game that did stand out for me was a 6mm Sci-Fi primarily using old GW epic, but extras from all over the place. A force of Orks were landing in typically ramshackle landing crafts against what must have been about 20 foot of coastline and city defended by the usual good guys, being reinforced by landers made from Terminator Salvation drones. It was just a bit different and had lots to draw your attention.

Shopping wise I was equally uninspired. Lots of nice products, but nothing stood out. No bizarre period I had not seen before and all the new release of the same high quality production and presentation. I picked up some 1/300th crew from Rod Langton to go with my AWI ships from the War Artisan once I get round to making them. Luke got a new board game and the Ambush alley rules we have looked at a few times at recent shows. I am yet to be convinced, but Luke liked the look of them so I will report back once we have given them a go.

Suitably reinvigorated we returned to the game with the Teutons making going progress against Lithuanian, but taking casualties in the process. Meanwhile the Poles were attacking the Teuton infantry but making remarkably hard work of it, before 1 unit of foot sergeants counter attacked and dispersed the battered remains of two units of knights, before getting ridden down themselves. In the end this was too much for the Polish alliance. Despite one of the Teuton commands breaking the Lithuanian army was collapsing with Duke Vytautas dead and one of the Polish command in disarray the Germanic forces were triumphant again. It is really making me wonder how the Poles actually one this one!

Colours is still a good show, and I really like the airy feel the glass walls of the grandstand give. Was also nice, as ever, to catch up with some old friends. Hello Robin!!

Club Night 10th September

Steve K and I played a WW2 Naval set inthe Mediterranean using the Victory at Sea rules with Luke commanding the first elemnts of the British till he had to go to work, and Steve commanding the rest, while I commanded the glorious Italian Navy. Since I have recently set up a club forum and Steve posted an after action report there I will cheat this week and repost his report here. I will add though that it was great fun and a really good scenario from Steve.

At 20.00 12/9/** a British force comprising 3 J class destroyers supported by the Leander class destroyer HMS Ajax were patrolling west of Crete when they sighted a force of 4 Navigatorri class Italian destroyers that had previously been reported in the area. The British immediately gave chase and Ajax opened fire with her forward turrets, the only guns in the force that would bear and were in range. Notwithstanding the superior composition of the British force, the Italians, displaying the gallantry most often seen in their lighter forces, immediately turned to fight and sought to close to torpedo range. The heavier gunpower of the British force quickly told and left one Italian crippled but, nevertheless, the gamble paid off, two of the British destroyers falling victim to the Italian torpedos.

Despite their initial success, with their most effective weapon now spent the Italians chose discretion and turned away westward at their fullest speed. An accurate salvo from Ajax accounted for one of them, but this proved only to be the one that had already been crippled.

After the pursuit had continued for some time with the British fire failing to take any further effect at the long range and high speed, it became apparant that the Italians were in fact falling back on a strong supporting force, comprising a further 4 Navigattoris supported by the heavy cruisers Pola, Zara and Fiume. Now heavily overmatched, the British force reversed its course and made away towards the east, at the same time sending out urgent sighting reports, The Italians joined up and pursuedmaking copious amounts of smoke. This probably hindered them more than it did their enemies since it meant that only the Pola in the lead could shoot while the surviving British destroyer was unable to fire effectively at the range and the Ajax, which could, could fire only on the leading cruiser anyway.

However, the British flight was not without purpose. To the north-east, a force comprising dorsetshire, Norfolk and Belfast screened by a further J class and two Tribals had received the sighting report and was hurrying to the relief. By good fortune, they arrived on the disengaged side of the Italian force without being sighted due to a surface mist. Hampered by their own smokescreens, the Italians were unable to take proper advantage of their superior concentration whilst the British, concentrating on the Pola as leading ship, caused considerable damage. Worse was to happen for the hapless Italians. Although a lucky shot brought the Ajax, which had previously led a charmed life, to an abrupt halt with catastrophic engine damage, leaving it easy prey for the Italian destroyers which still had torpedos, the arrival of Norfolk and British concentration of fire overwhelmed Pola whilst Zara, perhaps lulled into a false sense of security by the British failure to use torpedos up until then, offered herself as a perfect target for the last survivor of the J class (her sister having now been sunk). The heavy torpedo armament and powerful torpedos of the J class reduced the Zara from a powerful and untouched fighting machine to a sinking wreck.

Two more Italians had by now succumbed to the more powerful guns of their British counterparts and with true adherance to the Italian ideals, the Admiral decided that he should not risk his surviving heavy unit and sought to make his escape. The British heavy cruisers turned in pursuit but were too far in the rear to gain an aggle of fire past the smokescreen he generated whilst still maintaining gun range and the tribals could not close to torpedo range and arc. The final act of the drama occurred when the Belfast fell victim to the torpedos of the last Italian destroyer that had not fired theirs.

At the end, the Italians conceded a narrow victory to the British, with 4 Italian destroyers and 2 heavy cruisers lost to three British destroyers , one heavy and one light cruiser. Honours, however went to the Italian destroyers for their initial agression and for their clever use of the fact the the British could not be sure which of them still had torpedos.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Club Sunday 5th September

The September Sunday meet saw just the one game, much like days of old! It was a good old Fire and Fury, with Steve H having written a scenario for the crater at Petersburg.

I took command of the centre division reeling from the explosion. I attempted to move into the crater to secure my lines but Yankee artillery and the confusion from the explosion had disordered my troops and it was not as organised as I would like. I finally had to attach my Divisional General to one brigade to lead it forward personally, where both he, and the exceptional brigade command where hit and killed by musketry. Not an auspicious start!

On my left (commanded by Steve K) and my right (commanded by Scott) far larger forces of Yankees poured forward with worrying speed and our poor musketry and lack of artillery was telling as they began to drive into our trenches. Meanwhile I was just about holding against the attack to the front of me, but as the Union had increasing success on either flank I was beginning to look exposed.

By the end of the game the Union had made it as far as our second line on both flanks despite the arrival of two reserve divisions and numbers were beginning to tell even more now we had lost out defences. I think in honesty the battle of the crater was a Northern victory despite the best efforts of the Rebs.

Despite how won sided this sounds it was actually much closer. The Union had to push hard to break through and did take losses, but ultimately we could not cause enough casualties with out fire power (lousy dice rolls all round) to thin them down enough and once they started throwing themselves at our trenches numbers began to tell. It was an excellent and enjoyable scenario and really fun to play a big multi player game again as we haven't done one of these for a while.

Club Night 3rd September

Luke and I decided to do a big game, using the battalion level rules from the back of the rulebook. At 4,000 points each we should be able to field some hefty forces covering most bases. I took control of the Italian forces, and took a Squadron Esplorante, a Bersaglieri company and a tank company, supported by as much artillery as I could fit in. Luke took the British forces and had a Grant squadron under 'Pip' Roberts, a Crusader company and a guards motor rifle company, with a battery of 25 pounders in support. We played a break through mission with the more armour orientated British taking the roll of the attackers.

I deployed with a Bersaglieri company on either flank, keeping the armour and recon forces in reserve, except for the motorcycle mounted troops which I deployed to speed towards the furthest objective and dig in before the British flank march arrived.

AS Luke took some nice photos I will let these speak for most of the game, but highlights included the devastation my pair of 88's managed on the Grants before they were knocked out, removing my key threat. The inefficiency of the Italian air force and the failure for the Desert air force to turn up. Unfortunately when it did it smashed my self-propelled guns quite efficiently. The fight in the town on my right was also fun as initially the Stuarts crashed into buildings to try and drive out my infantry and then once my armour arrived it was a case of trying to find fire lanes as abandoned and destroyed tanks littered the battlefield.

The British flank attack finally arrived, but under some quick redeployment and viscous fire I made to do some serious damage before they completely drove off the motorcycle infantry, and although they passed a company break check the British admitted this attack had been blunted, as they only had 6 operation armoured vehicles left against considerably more Italian.

British Deployment

Two views of the Italian left flank

The Bersaglieri motorcycle troops rush to the furthest objective

The attack on the Italian right

Two more images showing the intensity of the fighting in the city

The desert air force arrive!