Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Selling Up and Moving on?

Dear Readers,

There's a moment when you can't help but feel that there is a slow and inexorable decline in your gaming desire.  I think I'm (sadly) there with 40k.  For me, it's codex creep that's finally put the nail in the coffin.  I've stuck it out as codex after codex is released.  I've stuck out the poor codeci and seen the rebirth of the Guard, Tyranid and the CSM codex - but really, nothing has changed.

I've a 'flavour of the month' army, oh great, how long will that last.

I'm not dropping it completely, but I have the desire to 'thin out' my enormous amount of models to a more manageable amount.  I have 4 pretty huge armies in 40k and right now I'd quite like to ease up space for showcasing my Flames of War units and getting back into painting.

I stopped painting a while back as my eyesight had degraded and I hadn't realised.  Glasses are in now, painting is back in - but no room.

So what do I do?  Do I store up the models I have for the 10 years ahead when my boys and girl might be interested?  Do I sell a selection, or a couple of armies?  How do you go about selling armies on ebay, by unit, altogether?  Do I sell them now (the Tyranids are ready), or do I wait until Nids are worth having again?  Will the units even be relevant in 10 years time?

Life is moving on, and as a father of three with a business to run - thinning down on plastic tanks would ease space, clear the decks and also stop the bunch of stupid plastic models in the corner giving me a guilt trip about not playing with my toys (believe me, I have REAL things to feel guilty about without 40k plastic-crack wading in!)...

Advice please,

Suneokun

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Chaos Space Marines are well ... chaotic?


 Just busy digesting the new codex for the last week.  It's a cracking read I must say, and some of the notions within it are certainly exciting.  The urge to take a Disc riding chaos lord with a sigil, mark of tzeentch (for a 3++) and give him a Black Mace to do the dirty to the backfield is almost overwhelming ... however, my impressions (in a Sean Connery voice):

Defilers:  I always liked them, now they are shit hot.  4 hull points with a battlecannon, healing hull points on a 5+, and 5++ Deamon save, fleet - what's not to like?  Seems odd that they bought out these new awesome models and made the defiler even better?  Is it a landraider - nope, but it beats the crap out of the "new" dreadnought.  Oh, and if 5 powerfist attacks on the charge aren't enough, it can also have a 'power scourge', you don't even have to hit 'with it', just any unit in base to base with a model with a power scourge automatically has D3 taken off their WS every phase .  Oh and just checking the rules, a walker can move and fire ALL its weapons - so I'm thinking an reaper autocannon, Havoc launcher, combi-melta and battlecannon isn't overkill, is it?

Deamon Prince: Never bought one as I didn't like the model and THANK GOD FOR THAT.  They just took the 'must have' HQ choice and turned him into a joke.  He is an MC with 4 wounds, a 3+/5++ tops ... yeah, my trygons were tough like that too.

Revised HQ's: Ok so the new HQ's don't have eternal warrior spam like the smurf one's, but they have tactical options to make you pause.  For my money the top three are:  Abaddon, a 2+,4++ close combat monster of death with knobs on, Ahriman for all round spellcaster evil powerhouse.  Finally Typhus is a hardcore model with solid stats and fantastic upgrade options (Deathguard plus Zombies, what's not to like?)  Huron wins runner up as 'budget' option for his guaranteed 'infiltrate' roll, good stats, quality toolkit and 'random' magic.

Mutilators and Oblivitators - oh my: Oblits are even better, 2+, 5++ with a Tzeentch boost option (4++) makes them particularly sweet.  Add in a 5 point discount on the last codex, the inclusion of ASSAULT CANNON on their slow and purposeful asses.  Luckily S&P has become better (ish), it no longer requires 2D6 movement tests, but does mean you can't run or fire overwatch, which is a shame.  You can move normally and pump peeps full of S6 AP4 rending shots - which makes any imperial guard player worry over a deepstriking oblit team mincing his heavy weapons teams.  3points extra for for a 2+,4++ 2W deep striking swiss army knife - bargain!

Terminators:  Anyone else noticed that Terminators can now take EITHER a cool close combat weapon OR a cool combi weapon?  Yeah, that sucks doesn't it.  To add insult to injury, they are 5 points cheaper for 2 dudes and a chump, but you can only take 1 chump (you can't upgrade them all to champions, for obvious boon confusicrapness) and the chump has identical stats - ie: ONLY 2 attacks anyhow.  This means the end of I5, 5 attacks on the charge lightning claw'd monsters - rubbish.  Still useful, but this combo will make them second choice.

Chaos Space Marines: 
These guys are cheap, at 75pts for 5 including a champion.  This is a brilliant drop from the 90pts in the previous codex.  That said, just like normal tactical squads, you don't get the pistol and knife combo (really tactical squads can't have knives, how cash-strapped is the imperium?) but the good news is that you can upgrade your boys for 2pts per fella to get a knife and that 'essential' additional attack in close combat.  At base level that's 140 versus 170 for 10 vanilla marines, although you will miss combat squads/tactics and ATSHNF rules.  Unlike vanilla, you can choose to take 2 meltas in the same squad and 200pts for 10 marines in a dirging rhino ain't bad.

Chaos Cultists: Yep, they are what we've been waiting for.  They're the grease beneath the wheels of Dawn of War and they're pitiful cries (whilst building/fighting/dying) are what makes the chaos player sing.  The combo of hardcore marines and fodder is a tempting one.  If you throw in MR T in green and make them all zombies (FOR FREE?!?), with fearless and FNP - Ummm suddenly those like me with huge Imperial Guard armies and a selection of zombies are laughing.  165pts for a 35 man 'blob' with 3 flamers?  Errr ... yes please.  My Alpha Legion styled army are licking their lips already.

Raptors:  Looks like my 5 man raptor team is being decommissioned as they are now completely pointless.  Even the Chaos Spawn (which is better value than a Deamon Prince), can potentially charge 30" - eeek!  Raptors can move 12" and then charge.  Less impressive.  This is set against Chaos Bikers who get Jink (5+ cover save if moved), +1T, Hammer of Wrath and Relentless (making plasmaguns awesome).  Warptalons are equally 'meh', as the price is more than a plague marine?!?

Heldrake: The other reason why Raptors are so last year, there's a bloody great dragon on board.  It can vector strike (which means D3+1 automatic hits at S7, AP3 - on vehicle side armour) ... ignoring the hades autocannon (4 S8 AP4 pinning), this beasty should definitely have the torrent baleflamer.  It an AP3 soul blaze template at strength 6 - specifically designed to turn tactical squads into glue.  170pts and it can regrow it's hull points... OMFG.

Havocs:  If the previous explanation wasn't enough, Havocs can now kit out missile launcher, which have flakk skyfire rounds.  Not quite the Heldrake, but for taking down those pesky flyers - essential.

So what would I take?
  • Huron BlackHeart - (160)
  • Plague Marines (7) - Powerfist, 2 plasmaguns, Mutation, Rhino, Dirge Caster (273)
  • Terminators (5) - 2 Lightning Claws, Chainfist and combi-bolter, Heavy flamer and powerfist, combi-melta and power weapon - (265)
  • Chaos Space Marines (10) - 2 x melta and powerfist, Rhino, dirge caster (225)
  • Chaos Space Marine (10) - 2 x melta and power weapon, Rhino, dirge caster (215)
  • Chaos Cultists (35) - 3 flamers (165)
  • Chaos Bikers (3) - 2 meltaguns and combi melta and a power weapon (115)
  • Obliterators (2) - Mark of Tzeentch (156)
  • Defiler - Power Scourge, Reaper Autocannon, Havoc launcher, dirge caster and combi-melta (252pts)
  • Havocs (5) - 4 Missile Launchers with Flakk (175)
Total: 2001 pts

The Heldrake would be interchangeable with the Havocs.  I've only left out the heldrake as I already have the list above.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Infantry Guard Army: Snipers and Mortars and Allies, oh my!





I was inspired by an excellent tactical review at "From the Fang" to dust off the codeci yesterday and have a new look at my Imperial Guard Army.  I have to say, I haven't written an army list in over a year now (for 40k anyway) and thanks to 6th Edition, all my standard references are up the swanny!  But that's the same for everyone.


Reading online, there seems a lot of heat about several key meta areas in 40k now!
  • Flyers as vehicles
  • Flying Monstrous Creatures
  • Infantry over tanks
  • Value of Snipers and Blasts
  • Characters are awesomesauce
  • The value of glancing
I'm very largely in favour of most of the changes in 6th Edition, lets face the facts, I'd stopped playing as 40k had become very stale compared to other games systems, and it wasn't just me.  The majority of games at the local club were made up of Hordes, Warmachine, Flames of War and even Infinity!

Foot Guard - are they better?

So what are my thoughts, well this list is based around what I've already got, a a few 'wishlister' based on the meta.  Overall I think my foot-centric guard force has really won out in 6th.  Let's look at my 'staples' and chew the fat!

Ratling Snipers - These little guys are now awesome, they are still super squishy, but a BS4 camo'd sniper - wicked.  Sniper doesn't just grant 'rending' on a 6 to wound, but on a 6 to hit you get to choose which model in the enemy unit you're shooting.  Not so good against Characters (including powerfist Sergeants) thanks to the 'look out sir' generic rule, but awesome against those pesky models holding flamers, plasma, missile launchers and the like.  I've got twelve, so 2x6 ratlings?

Vehicles - On the face of it, hull points have made vehicles more durable, but in reality they pop easier.  Every glancing AND penetrating hit will take a hull point, which means that 4 autocannons with bring it down can guarantee a rhino stops dead (completely ignoring the penetration rolls).  This is GREAT news for Guard!  While the +1 for AP2 Lascannons and Plasma on the penetration chart is welcome, rate of fire seems the best guarantee of glancing a vehicle to death ... And between the Chimeras, the Hydra's and the Autocannons ... we got it!

Mortars - I've always been a huge fan of mortars in guard forces, I think they are a key force multiplier, hitting and hurting a little bit every turn.  I have 15 mortar bases in total and love to field them.  The new rules are really kind to mortars.  Since pre-measuring is now in, there no more worries about being 'just' out of range.  The key to this is that the wound allocation is now directional, with the direction dictated from the centre of the blast.  Indirect fire and 48" range means that I only need to 'hit' with 6 hits to guarantee the death of that meltagunner, or 2 hits to start mincing those Ork dakkaguns (sounds a lot, I've got 15 shots!) ... I'm used to whittling down units to the powerfist and the special weapons expert ... looks like it'll be a boltgunner from now on!

Challenges - Now, this is less of a bonus, but still a very effective stalling tactic.  You can (I think ) call a challenge in the charge, this means that the Rough Riders sergeant (With I5) can 'call out' the Space Marine hero at I6, thus guaranteeing that more of his disposable brethren get their pointy stick into the enemies pointy beaks!  It also works well for the Imperial Guard blob, inhibiting the super ninja character from dishing the death mongering from YOUR player turn and allowing you to apply those power weapons (or sheer weight of numbers) onto his bodyguard.  It'll probably do nothing more than slow them down ... but that's the point isn't it?

Flying Vehicles - I like the Vendetta, it's awesome.  I just don't own one, 6th edition AND the snap fire rule makes Vendettas the 'must have' vehicle for delivering death to the enemy.  4 meltas in a vendetta is an evil combo and will attract a lot of heat, luckily that heat will need a 6 to hit and blast weapons can't snap fire.  So their problems are largely over.  Nice.

Flying Monstrous Creatures - Urkk, Tyranids that fly just got a huge bonus.  Something tells me they want to sell stuff with wings?!?  For my money the best bonus for a guard army is to have some Chaos Space Marine allies.  A few deathguard are never a bad investment, and If I happen to bring along some nurgle bikers (true T6! and jink!), plus my Obliterators and a Deamon Prince with wings and a magic spell for 160pts - bargain!

Now, as you can see from above, none of this is actually that expensive.  The Allies total 660, which still leaves me plenty for the following:
  • Company Command Sq: Autocannon, 3 sniper rifles  (75)
  • 6 Ratlings (60)
  • 6 Ratlings (60)
  • Platoon Command Squad: 4 meltas (70)
  • Squad 1: Autocannon (60)
  • Squad 2: Autocannon (60)
  • Squad 3: Autocannon plus Commissar (95)
  • 5 Heavy Weapons Teams, Mortars (300)
  • Veterans Squad, 3 melta (100)
  • 2 x Vendetta (260)
  • Deamon Prince, Wings, Magic, Nurgle (160)
  • 5 Plague Marines, Powerfist and 2 Plasmaguns (185)
  • 3 Bikers, 2 melta (119)
  • 2 Obliterators (150)
Total: 1754 pts.

Maybe a Hydra would be better than the Obliterators, but with three flying things, I should be troublesome enough??  What's your thoughts?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Twenty Questions

Thanks to Drax for the heads up!  
Posties' Rejects 20 Questions

Favourite Wargaming Period, and Why?
1990? Advanced Space Crusade, Confrontation and Rogue Trader saga's.  They weren't wargames, took forever, but they were fun.
Next Period, money no object?
Money no problem, I hear that Duxford and Bovington have 1:1 scale WW2 wargaming materials, I'm sure Flames would scale up fairly effectively?
Favourite five films?
Blade Runner
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Die Hard
Moulin Rouge
Singing in the Rain

Favourite five TV series?
Band of Brothers 
Dune (the SciFi version)
Firefly
True Blood (Season One)

Game of Thrones


Favourite book and author?
Top Five please...

China Mieville (City and the City)
Peter F. Hamilton (All of his books are awesome)
Joe Abercrombie (Best Served Cold)
Steven Erikson (Toll the Hounds)
Martin (Game of Thrones)
Greatest General? Can't count yourself!
Montgomery

Favourite Wargame rules?
Flames of War
Favourite Sport and Team?
Team GB In the fecking Olympics ... because that's a real sport!

If you had a one-use-only time machine, when and where would you go?
Back to Japan, and without the 18yo hang ups I'd have ruled.

Fantasy relationship and why?

Split between Jennifer Connelly (in Labyrinth) and Samantha Mathis (getting topless in Pump up the volume).  Always liked my 'spunky' brunette girls.

If your life were a movie, who would play you?
Sean Bean ... as he would have a particularly tragic and yet meaningful/hilarious way to go at the end.

Last meal on Death Row?


Fish finger sandwich, mayo.

Favourite comic book superhero?
Batman, there no one cooler?

Favourite military quote?
"Truck, what truck?" (sorry couldn't resist)

Historical destination to visit?
Monte Cassino

Biggest Wargaming regret?
None yet...

Favourite fantasy job?
My job ... no really!

Favourite song top 5?
Son of a preacher man - Dusty Springfield
The One - U2
Yes to beer, no to booty -
Eastbound and Down - Smoky and the Bandit
Cosmic Girl - JK

Favourite Wargaming moment?
FIghting Mark's foot guard to a standstill, he fought like a trooper and nearly drew against hellhounds!

The Miserable Git Question: what upsets you?



Lying. Especially people who lie to themselves and then present it as 'the truth'.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Still playing World of Tanks? Hell yeah!

 11 kills in World of tanks, in the old 6 shot batchat  .... scary

World of Tanks has gone through some serious 'meta-game' changes in the last six months.  It's been an interesting ride, but here's a snap shot of what I'm driving now (and where I'm driving them).

Metagame Changes

WoT's is constantly rebalancing to cope with the meta-game.  As one country becomes dominant, or one tank appears too high in the stats, it gets nerfed or the others get tweaked.  Think of the Games Workshop 2 year release schedule, but released monthly.

So when the KV-3 became all dominant in tier 6 tank company games, it was upgraded to tier 7 and other 'lighter' versions were dropped in instead.  The American's were weak ... until the a new tier 9 and tier 10 tank dropped a high armour armour, great sloping and an awesome gun in to upset the others.  So what do people play and why ... let's see.

Russians

Best all round tanks. The best scout tanks (T-50 and T-50-2) in the game, plus arguably the best all-round heavies in both medium, champion and absolute(that's tier 6, tier 8 and tier 10 games) companies.  A good stock of IS-7 and IS-4's are essential for Clan Wars.  The su26 and T-28 are both fine additions at the lower tiers and junior tank companies, while the KV-1S is the king of the medium tank company.  IS3 rules the Champion and the two above own the Absolute.

Germans

Best sniper tanks with great accuracy, great penetration and best armour.  Not as maneuverable as the Russians and with slower firing guns than the Americans, these guys kill from range.  Maus is the biggest Tier10 there is with 3000 hitpoints (most tier ten have 1800-2500), and armour that can bounced nearly anything (from the front).  But germans aren't fast.  The Tiger, KonigsTiger and Ferdinand are great tanks for random games.  Their artillery is arguably the best - although I prefer the french.

Americans

Tinfoil armour ... mostly.  The medium line is dire, except for the top, the Americans are all about rate of fire (unsurprisingly) although penetration and accuracy suffer accordingly.  Some of the best Tank hunters and Heavy tanks in the game (at least from tier 7 upwards).  American heavies are all about 'hull down' positions.  They have guns that can penetrate anyone and out Rate of Fire most equivilent tanks at medium range.  Russians want it close, Germans want it at range... Americans want it at arms length.  Great guns though.

French

The real cat among the pidgeons.  The French offer danger everywhere.  They have next to no armour, blistering speed and movement (to challenge the T50!) and usually pack a devastating cartridge armed gun.  These tanks have turned the Meta upside down, vastly expanding ambush tactics.  A heavy tank will do 400-500 hp of damage at higher tiers, firing every 10-15 seconds.  A french tier 6+ tank can fire 5-6 times in 12-15 seconds.  As an ambush tank, they can wipe out heavies but rushing around the back of an engaged heavy and 'unloading' 6 shells into their rear weakened armour.  Real killers are the AMX1390 and the tier 10 batchat.  The Tank hunters have a similar approach and the penetration is devastating.  The arty are low slung, accurate and capable of blistering speed when needed to relocate (50-65kph, most heavies are 35 kph).  The batchat goes at 65kph and can do 5x390 average damage shots in 15-20 seconds.  Very vulnerable to arty, but great fun.

So I'm currently running with:

  • ELC AMX (a tier 5 scout with an antitank gun) - quite like it.
  • AMX1390 (tier 8 scout with devastating 6 shot gun) - love it.
  • Batchat 25t (tier 10 medium) - would have its babies.
  • AMX13F3AM - don't get confused, its a solid tier 5 arty.
  • PzB2740 - My lovely tier 4 premium heavy, a lovely tank.
  • Grille - German Arty, don't love it but solid in medium tank companies.
  • T25AT - My lovely tier 7 American Tank hunter, I'll probably sell it when I've the money to buy the T29
  • Tetrarch - Awful tier 2 British tank which holds its own, a freebie from WoTs.
  • T-50 - still the best scout in the game.
  • KV-1s - The best Tier 6 Medium tank company tank.
  • IS-3 - the best Tier 8 Champion company tank.
  • SU-26 - Tier 3 russian arty, most kills ever - great fun tank.

Wanted:

I'm gonna grab a T29 and my eventual goal is to climb the heights of buying a Tier 8 French arty, which can go as fast as a batchat, has a turret like an SU26 and can mess up everything... lush.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Loving 6th Edition ... but there's something I don't get?

What does 40k mean now to nids?

Hey guys, Sunny's back and intrigued by 6th Edition.  I like a lot of what I reading ... but I have some early questions!

Allies ...Why can't Tyranids work with anyone?   In second edition you had genestealer cults etc, Its all over the fluff.  Genestealers are known to have infested Orks before, and I'm pretty sure they have a pop at Tau, Guard, Eldar, DEldar and most of the others, given a chance.  The fluff's pretty easy to iron out, afterall, genestealers are the magnet to the hivemind.  So bringing together the uprising with the invasion seems straightforward.

It's not like the Tyranid Army is so biblically overpowered that it cannot afford to get some allies?  This seems pretty odd, well very odd actually... and seems to have put the kaibosh on any Nid player worth his salt as you can't just 'pick-up' a Artillery batalion.

Allies will seriously twist the meta of the game in new and challenging ways and being excluded from this option puts an already 'back-foot' codex out of the game.

Anyone got any light at the end of my Nid tunnel of death?

 

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Dead and buried?



Just a quick note to say ....

Pathfinder Blog isn't dead and buried.  Rather, since early February I've been involved in one of the largest projects of my career so far.  It's been 'demanding' and the surfeit of excess creativity and energy to deliver scintillating topics online has been somewhat bereft.

Or ... I've been fecking busier than a busier in biz.

World of Tank's has been a useful 'sanity check' based around my ability to 'not go out' at the moment, or the energy to drag my carcass out.

Added to this, my wife is due with our third child next month - so the options for being away from home will and are somewhat curtailed (I'm like some paranoid bullfrog in the mating pool at the moment!).

She's just finished up her PhD for (hopefully) the last time.  So, all in all - we've been very very busy.

I even missed Salute 2012.  Which is a shame.

Once baby is here, such considerations will be secondary and you'll hear more from me.

In the meantime, keep the faith, keep the hope.  And I'll keep reading everyone's blog.

Work wise... Training, final installation and handover this week and next.

Peace out!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

New -VIZ- Clan WOT logo.

This is for the clan really, but anyone can please give feedback.  It's to go on our tanks!


Monday, 27 February 2012

Follow the Flames: Round 2 - 800 pts

INTRO

My USSR troops were in action again (again mascarading as Greeks).  Unlike last time, both these games were tactically much more challenging and a good learning experience.


GAME 1 - Assaulting Hill 593

The battle was set in the mountains during the second battle of Monte Cassino, and the taking of Hill 593.  The rules were challenging, as neither side had the option to 'dig in' due to the rocky ground, but would automatically gain bulletproof cover if they went to ground (didn't move or fire).

As the 'assaulting' force, this left me with a significant tactical disadvantage.  The Germans would have fortifications, machine gun nests and mortars.  If I 'walked in' on this firepower, I'd be annihilated.  The Allies teams had taken considerable casulaties at this point.  How could I turn the tide?

For this game, I was fighting Kurt.  An excellent opponent, but Kurt scratched his list together with minutes to spare, would unfamiliarity breed mistakes - I hoped so.


GAME 2 - Fighting Encirclement in the Swamp

For this game I was going to be playing one of the most experienced players in the local area.  Coops has played flames for years and years and amassed a huge number of armies including an epic tonne of Russians, Germans and American Vietnam Vets.  He's played in national and regional flames tournaments.  I was pretty certain I had a fight on my hands.  Coops gripped my arm before the game, and whispered in an undertone.  "PLEASE give me a tough game!" ... he'd wiped the board with everyone so far, could I beat him?

For the first time, I was defending!  In this battle I had the option of splitting my forces over the bottom left and top right quadrants of the board.  Coops then deployed in the bottom right, with his reserves coming in top left, and the objectives he had to take doing likewise.

ARMY LIST

USSR - Rifles Battalion (800pts)
  • Command Team (Commander, 2iC, Commissar) - 30pts
  • 45mm Antitank guns (2 bases of guns as a Command Attachment) - 45pts
  • Strelkovy Company (8 bases, rifle and machineguns) - 130pts
  • Strelkovy Company (16 bases, 7 Submachineguns, 8 R/MG and a Maksim HMG) - 265pts
  • Scout Platoon (2 bases) - 100pts
  • Heavy Mortar Platoon (8 bases including 6 mortars and a spotter team) - 145pts
  • 45mm Antitank guns (5 bases including 4 antitank guns) - 85pts
My main strengths are the awesome Heavy mortars, these guys can pin and produce casualties of even dug in opponents.  My enlarged Strelkovy Batalon with 16 bases was also party to the "Quantity is quality" rule, meaning that they'd need double the number of hits (10 instead of 5) to get pinned, importantly, this meant that if they got in assault range, these boys were unstoppable.  Finally, my 45mm were my 'funny' ace in the hole.  I'd brought them along after my experience in round one of machinegun nests and they are VERY effective.  However, they'd also become increasingly useful for shooting up enemy infantry in cover, and despite the comments of my peers - I was enjoying having them aboard.

GAME 1 AXIS - Grenadier Company (800pts)
  • Command Team
  • Grenadier Platoon (7 bases)
  • Grenadier Platoon (7 bases)
  • 105mm Howitser Platoon (4 guns, spotter, command and staff)
  • Heavy Mortar Platoon (7 bases including 6 mortars)
  • 2 HMG nests
  • 3 sets of fortification trench lines
THE BOARD - HILL 593

Hilly terrain dotted the board.  This was my core advantage.  The downside was that due to the 'rocky terrain', I couldn't dig in and anything that moved was going to get a pounding.  Kurt had learnt from his earlier games and had both a four gun artillery unit AND a six mortar platoon.  These could shelter behind a double platoon of grenadiers, trenches and two HMG nests.  While grenadiers are only Trained and Confident, ALL my troops are identical.  These represent the low water mark of the german reich.  Let's hope I can give them hell!



German Defensive Line
My forces (in blue) all started on the table, The heavy mortar platoon started in the top left hand corner - completely hidden behind a hill.  This meant that they could fire without being fired upon - very useful indeed.  The small platoon and Antitank guns started in the middle.  The larger platoon started at the top of the board.  Before starting the game I initiated an 'infiltration' move, using my 100pts of scouts to pull 16 bases of infantry 16" closer to the enemy.


The Germans didn't largely move all game.

Moving was risky in this game, so I went all out.  By running, I could get 100% of the huge platoon behind a large hill on the top.  This stopped them being spotted (for arty) or being shot at direct (direct fire rolls double dice against 'running' troops - ouch!)  The smaller platoon in the middle did the same trick, hugging terrain.


Russian flood from behind the hill up the left flank
Now the smart thing for Kurt to do would is to readjust his lines to ensure dominating defensive fire faced my incoming infantry.  He didn't however.  His BIG mistake.  I think he did this mainly because he was still working in "28mm mode" and thought that his infantry could see over the hill.  At only 5mm in height - they couldn't!  Realising that the only units with line of site were one shot artillery pieces and a couple of infantry, I ran like blazes at them.  Hooking behind the front line of the HMG nests - I avoided them completely.

Antitank guns move up behind their bulletproof shields to kill the HMG nests
 Now Kurt rushed to fill the gap, moving infantry across, reserves arrived that he rushed to the front lines ... but my mortars spotted them and blew them to pieces, wounding every one of them and Kurt failing 5/7 3+ cover saves!  But Rifles and Machine Guns are Rate of Fire 1 if they move.  My SMG units and most R/MG units rushed up under covering fire from my HMG and some rifle units.  The Russian firepower was devastating, destroying the Artillery with Machinegun fire alone and killing multiple infantry units.  The 'Mortered' reserve unit simply fled, many other units were pinned or engaged.  The Germans attempted a counter attack, but the defensive fire was too intense and they all died on the way in.  In one turn of assault I destroyed an HMG nest, 9 bases of infantry and a whole platoon of Artillery.  The next turn, we mopped up the remaining infantry and the AT guns wiped out the last HMG nest.

4-2 win to the Russians.

GAME 2 - Encirclement in the swamp.

Rolling for the next game (and promising experienced player Coops a tough game), I opted for a defensive position.  This would be my first defensive game and a beauty to start with.  Against such an old hand, I'd need every advantage I could get.  Coops list looked something like this:

Grenadier Company (Confident-Veteran)
  • Command HQ and 2iC
  • Veteran Rifles with 2 HMG
  • Veteran Rifles with 2 HMG
  • HMG Platoon (4 HMG and Command)
  • Mortar Platoon
In Coops opinion, Confident Veteran was the perfect mix.  Fearless is uneccessary, and costs too much.  Being Veteran means that over 16", you are almost impossible to hit.  Only certain weapons, and at certain ranges, can have much of any chance against you.

That said, as a numerically inferior force - charging out of pre-prepared positions at my lines would be suicide.  Even if they make it ... I would simply drown them in double the numbers.

The mass of heavy machine guns, while awesome in defense against an attacking army, would be handicapped by my dug in positions and bullet proof cover.

THE BOARD - SWAMP

A Complete lack of terrain combined with the fact that I was automatically 'dug in' as the defender meant that I was in a good position.  The large hill on the top right formed the base of my defence.  The Heavy mortars hid behind the hill as they could range in anything on the board and could then avoid being spotted themselves.

In front of them came the two AT guns and and both the infantry batalons.  My original plan had be to 'infiltrate' the big infantry company over towards the objectives on the bridge, in order to muck up his plans, but without this, I dug in to weather the artillery.

My defensive position with the heavy mortars positioned behind the hill
And artillery Coops definitely had.  On top of the mortars, Coops commander character had two levels of artillery to pull on.  This meant that 'off the board' mortars and artillery would be raining down on my men.  Nice!  I also had taken this 'upgrade path', so I reciprocated as best I could (but lacked the two tiers he had).

On the other flank, 4 AT guns lined up.  As long as they didn't move, they have bulletproof cover, the scouts in front of them gave them a stalling line.  I was hoping that they (and the HMG nest adjacent) would be enough of a disincentive to approach in that direction.

The Germans attempt to dig in in the face of Soviet firepower
The game opened up with some blistering firepower.  Coops failed to dig in his veteran HMG's and mortars the first turn, although they opened fire with everything they had.  They killed a couple of bases and started to worry at the large platoons - but nothing to worry about too greatly.  In return my HMG and heavy mortars targetted the HMG's in the open and pounded their lines, killing 3 out of 4 HMG's and effectively taking them out of the game.

Over the following 2 turns, the mortar teams exchanged fire, with his mortars forced to target my infantry whilst my mortars rained hell and brimstone down on his mortar teams.  By turn 4 only 1 mortar remained, this is mainly because normal mortars are firepower 6, meaning that even if you hit and they fail their saving throw, you still need a 6 to kill!  Heavy mortars are firepower 3+.  Between the rerolls to hit (see below), the 5+ cover save for the mortar teams (unlike infantries 3+) and the 3+ to overcome their bulletproof cover ... they dropped like flies.

Artillery works in a unique way in that a 'hit' hits everything under a 4" square template.  You then roll a skill check (4+ for me, 3+ for Coops vets) to hit them.  Six or more arty pieces gets you a reroll to hit.  3-4 and it's straight, 1-2 and you have to reroll every hit.  This meant the enemy mortars were completely useless.

The reserves arrive
The enemy flankers arrived on turn 3, and I turned all hell on them.  The 'god of war' mortar barrage killed 1 and the Antitank guns got in range at 16".  At sixteen inches and dug in, I needed a 5+ to hit.  But the 'volley fire' rule meant I could pour on the firepower and hits.  Giving me rerolls to hit.  The 4+ firepower made a mockery of his cover save and then the Heavy mortar plowed in.

Killing half the team, his embedded and dug in unit pass their pinning test but fail their morale check (4+) and routed.  Sometimes fearless is just what it takes.

Conclusion

The first battle was won through some intelligent movement and a mistake by my opponent.  The second battle was an uphill struggle (for my opponent).  If he'd moved, I'd have killed him.  My heavy mortars came into their own and ate his for breakfast.  Personally, I can't see how he could have won unless I'd made a serious mistake.  I didn't, I gave him a tough game ... and with 2 more turns to turn on the pressure on those Grenadiers contesting - it couldn't really have gone any other way.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Sometimes Winning sucks - brief batrep



Flames of War campaign week 2 this Wednesday gone...

Only got one game in because only half the crowd turned up.  After reviewing the campaign mission here's the setup.

He deploys a platoon and his fortifications, inlcude two mahcine gun nests around the monestary at the top of the hill.  I deploy randomly on board edges.  I roll a 3, and deploy my 45mm A/T guns with 2nd in command facing his machine gun nests.  I then roll a 5 for my rifle/machinegun platoon (with attached commissar) and deploy them in the enemy left flank.

All attackers have cautious movement.  This means that if I move normally and don't shoot/assault, I'm +2 to hit (ie a 5+ rather than 3+).  I advance on him, my AT guns move up.  He fires and misses everything.  I use volley fire @ 16" and destroy his machine gun nest.  My troops move to point blank range and then assault without shooting.

They storm into the base and start handing out death.  The A/T guns shoot up the german infantry gun.  End of round three, opponent hands in the towel.

The problem with campaign games.

Real life is rarely fair, I had Russian Infantry.  They were confident and trained, but nothing to write home about.  I was facing German elite SS Totenkopf troops with MG teams.  A single platoon for me is 8 bases (9 with Kommissar).  My opponent didn't even have that at the top of the hill.  His elites were nullified by the 5+ to hit that cautious movement gave me.  My A/T gun didn't help either.

Outnumbered and outmanuevered, it was a tough fight, but could he have won?

Options.

Totenkopf have options.  For example, by moving all his machinegun teams to the left flank of his hill, he could have delivered devastating firepower, making an assault highly difficult.  His choice of the infantry gun also had limited usage.  It's low powered and lacking range, useful on the assault, but useless in defence.  The machine gun nests ARE good, but only really against rifle/MG troops. With the machine gun nests better placed he could have challenged my location.  Bringing the infantry gun to bear on my A/T would also have helped.  MG teams are good, but some Heavy machine guns with RoF 6 would have been better AND harder to kill.

I think he could have held me off and forced me off the hill with his machinegun teams.  All he had to do was get 5 hits and any charge would fail.  Shooting would get me nothing as it's harder to hit vets than trained troops.  Using 'stormtrooper' move would have allowed him to get into position to meet the charge and still fired every turn at the full rate of fire.

On the game, I rused a total of 5 points, and my opponent just the 1, but he could have made me bleed for it.  And it didn't really feel like a win.

In a nutshell, apart from my A/T guns, I had little advantage.  Which gets me thinking on the options for round 2 and 3.  Is dropping the antitank guns really the best idea.  Or it more a better one?

Thoughts on a postcard please...

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Comparing 15mm Infantry kits

PRICE FIGHT - Katie Price with her cage fighting Ex
In the process of building up my army I've purchased kits from the following suppliers:
Here's a quick breakdown of their models and my opinions on their customer service, detail and design, mold and quality, and value.

The Plastic Soldier Company

Purchased: Russian Infantry, T-34 tanks.

They specialise in 15mm core tank and infantry for Germans, American (Brit) and Russians.  Their tank box sets are growing all the time, and they cover the Panzer III, IV and V (Panther) currently.  Their prices are concurrent to Zvezd, but their packs do offer multiple builds, the T-34 set includes both the 76mm and 85mm turrets.  The Panther box set includes 3 variants.

Their infantry sets are some of the best value in the game.  A Standard Russian summer infantry set will do three Platoons (2 Rifle machine gun and 1 SMG) plus a few scouts and company command teams.  The infantry models are clean and closer to normal proportions than many of the pewter versions.

Customer Service: Quick and Efficient *****
Detail and Design: Very good for plastic, good quality ****
Mold and Quality: Very clean marginal mold lines on both tanks and infantry, only cutting points need cleaning, much better then GW *****
Value: The combination of variant turrets tips them over Zvezda and the horde of infantry make these a first choice buy *****

Overall 19/20 - the core army first choice.


Zvezda

Purchased: German Half-tracks, Katyushas, Opel Blitz Trucks, T-34 tank, Zis-3 trucks.

Russian company specialising in vehicles only.  Zvezda sell their vehicles individually, making this company invaluable for 'stocking up' the units.  They also sell unusual units like Katyusha, trucks and half tracks at very reasonable prices.  A solid purchase.


Customer Service: Only purchased through third party, but I'm told more tardy ***
Detail and Design: Equal to The PSC ****

Mold and Quality: Very clean marginal mold lines but some designs aren't designed robustly, in scale truck undercarriages are weak and fiddly to build ****
Value: Excellent per unit value, but more 'box sets' would offer better value, very flexible *****

Overall 16/20 - filling up the edges.

Peter Pig

Purchased: Heavy Mortar Platoon (6) and HMGs (12).

Don't get put of by the amateurish website, PP offers some of the best, cheapest and highest quality miniatures on the market.  In fact if I could offer some advice to the company it would be to speand some money on the website and get a good one.  The variety of models is great, as is the prices.  Shop carefully as cerain units are cheaper elsewhere (flame thrower troops are cheaper from FoW itself for example), but the quality of the molds and the quality of the pewter is excellent.  The best quality pewter distributor.

Customer Service: Superb *****
Detail and Design: Excellent *****

Mold and Quality: Molding is excellent, a little cleaning required but marginal *****
Value: Shop carefully and you can pick up a bargain, but can't compete with plastic ****

Overall 19/20 - best 'unusual' unit supplier.

Old Glory Miniatures

Purchased: 57mm Zis-2 guns (6) and gun crews.

OGM have some great models in their listings, they also have a better website then PP.  However, I found their feedback and delivery tardy and half the order was missing.  Fail on the customer service.  In addition the quality on the guns is way down on PP.  They are very flimsy and required a fair amount of dosing in super glue to hold.  Not the best value either as guns don't include crews, which is a faff.

Customer Service: Tardy and uncommunicative **
Detail and Design: Average quality ***

Mold and Quality: Not as clean as PP, pewter is very soft. ***
Value: What looks like a good buy at first quickly adds up, cheaper than FoW, but you lose the quality ***

Overall: 11/20 - A Backup choice for stuff unavailable elsewhere.

Flames of War

Purchased: 3 Shermans and 2 STuGs, a mortar platoon and flamethrowers.

The tanks are excellent quality, and after this experience I was thoroughly surprised by the lack of care and attention in the pewter infantry.  These molds required the most cleaning of all.  The molds themselves are excellent, but it took me over 40 minutes to clean back a mortar platoon for glueing.

Customer Service: Quick and Efficient *****
Detail and Design: Good detail, but design can be 'fiddly' ****

Mold and Quality: Resin great, but infantry quality very poor.  Lots of mold lines and other chaff, a dissapointment considering its 'full price'.***
Value: Flames is generally very pricey, but for 'special' units such as SU122's, mortars or flamethrowers they offer good value for money, shop carefully ***

Overall 15/20 - Some good value, but surprisingly variable quality.

Conclusion

If the Plastic Company continue to expand their lines and Peter Pig could stop their website underselling their quality, they'd have it wrapped up.  In my experience, the other suppliers are really second choice for units that aren't available in the core units or if you have money to burn on 'true' units.


Monday, 6 February 2012

Unit Synergy in Flames of War


It's another Flames Article, to draw you over to the dark side of 15mm combat.

All pictures belong to Flames of War, without permission, but friendly nontheless!

For a Flames player, you'll notice that quite a few of the 'innovations' leaked in the 6th Edition WIP 40k ruleset came directly from the world of flames.  Defensive fire and pinning are things that really work in flames, and can prove absolutely devastating.  In addition, they tend to encourage combined arms tactics, as frequently a good team is a mixed team, as all vehicles come with their own advantages and disadvantages...

So here follows a little article to get you interested in Flames of War, in particular, unit synergy.

syn·er·gy

[sin-er-jee] Show IPA
noun, plural -gies.
1.  combined action or functioning; synergism.
2.  the cooperative action of two or more muscles, nerves, or the like.
3.  the cooperative action of two or more stimuli or drugs.

Synergy in 40k does work, because at core a synergy is a simple game of "Paper-scissors-Stone" that we all play in our heads.  The autocannons in one team may not fire on the Terminators next to them, but instead trust to the plasmaguns of the command team to whittle the superhumans down.  It works in 40k because the sliding scale of toughnesses and saving throws, throws up probabilities that we try to best exploit.  In a term, it's fire discipline.


Unit Synergy in Flames of War

In Flames, the synergy is made more complex.  Unlike 40k, not all weapons in Flames are effective against all units.  In some cases, you are better advised to deploy different weapons against the same unit under different circumstances.

Example One: Entrenched Veteran Troops.

In flames, infantry (unlike tanks) get a 3+ cover save whereever they are.  Even shooting at point blank range, troops get a 3+.  To make matters worse, the roll to hit is governed on their skill at using cover rather than YOUR skill at shooting.  You hit conscripts on a 2+, trained teams on a 3+, and veterans on a 4+.  To make it harder, it gets tougher at over 16" range, and you get yet more negative modifiers if they are in cover, and even more if they don't fire.


A veteran team (4+ to hit), in cover ("concealed", 5+ to hit), over 16" (6+) to hit, who hasn't moved or fired (gone to ground, 7+ to hit), just cannot be hit on a D6.

These rules reflect the reality of the situation (and the opposite to 40k), troops in cover who aren't shooting at you are nearly impossible to hit.

Bullet-proof Cover

To further compound this advantage, if you are in bullet proof cover (ie in or against a building, in foxholes (you dug yourself), in trenches etc, then your opponent doesn't just have to hit you, but they also have to pass a firepower test to penetrate your cover.

Rifles and Machineguns have a firepower of 6.  This means that after scoring a hit on a 6 to hit (within 16"), you then have to roll a further 6 to kill a unit.

Let's add another problem - a HMG nest

Of course, the obvious solution is to attack them, close combat gets you a lot of advantages - eliminating cover being one of them.  The problem is that all those advantages above dissapear as soon as you step out of your entrenched/foxhole position.  You still get a 3+ save, but that's it.  They can hit you easier, and your boys will go down.  Added to the problem are a couple of HMG nests.  These can pump out 6 shots each a turn, creating a kill zone for advancing infantry.

Maybe running will help, but maybe not - in Flames moving at the double means that you are moving without caution.  This gives the shooter "DOUBLE DICE" to shoot at you, representing the risk very effectively.  So simply running at the enemy (A 40k stalwart) won't work.  What's a girl to do?

Option 1: Heavy Mortars

Nestle in a mortar spotter with your dug in infantry and give 'em hell.  Heavy Mortars are very effective at pinning and killing your opponent.  They'll still get a 3+ save, but the scale of the template should give you 3-4 hits and any hit pins the whole unit (pinned units, if they don't shake it, are RoF 1 for the next turn).  Due to the parabolic, Heavy mortars are completely useless against machinegun nests.  The other advantage is that they are immune to retaliation.

Option 2: Light Mortars

Even worse than heavy mortars at killing dug in troops (firepower 6 compared to the HM 3+), some light mortars have a very useful trick.  They can fire direct!  With 24" range, 2 shots and firepower 3+, they can put the pain on your opponent and can cause casulaties.  Downside?  Gun teams have a saving throw of 5+ rather than the normal 3+, so make sure they are dug in!  Mortars can prove very useful against a machine gun nest.  You CAN destroy machine gun nests with simple machine gun and rifle fire, but it takes 72 shots to guarantee a kill. Since a platoon only offers 16 shots, this is a big ask.  6 mortar shots, costing half the price - should silence the HMG.  And it's all down to firepower.

Option 3: Light Antitank guns

At the same price as two HMG machineguns (pushing out 12 shots), two 45mm guns can offer little in the way of antitank (Light tanks and armoured transports only!).  They can however make very short work of a machinegun nest.  Only two guns (firing 6 shots), can put down a machinegun nest.  For the soviets they have several key advantages.  Firstly, they have a gun-shield.  This means that although they only have a 5+ save (as with all gun-teams), they are AUTOMATICALLY in bulletproof cover.  This means that they can move up and shoot at the MG nest at their leisure.  To add insult to injury, you can only hit a machinegun nest at less than 16".  At 16" or less, the artillery "volley fire" rule comes in.  This means that you get a reroll to hit.  Meaning that you only need commit 2 guns to kill a machinegun nest.

Option 4: Assault Guns

Assault guns like the SU122 or the STuH 42 (STuG variant) sacrifice their armour piercing gun for mounting a destructive howitser.  They are designed as infantry support tanks, and their main goal is the clear out infantry rather than kill tanks (which they are still moderately good at).  This means that these tank variants have hugely explosive firepower (2+), and are also what are termed 'breakthrough guns' , breakthrough guns or bunker busters automatically deny infantry a saving throw (they fire explosive rounds which are just too lethal to survive!  This means that if they hit, they invariably kill.

3 SU122's move on an assault gun, with armour 5 they are impervious to the machine gun fire.  They move up and fire 3 shots (moving reduces RoF to 1).  Thanks to a reroll (volley fire) at 16" they get 2 hits.  After rolling a 2+ four times,  they are almost guaranteed a kill.  They then turn their attention on the infantry with 6 shots scoring 2-3 hits next turn and guaranteed kills.

Ancilliaries - Scouts


Scouts play a crucial defensive and aggressive role in flames.  While their shooting potential is paltry, they can move cautiously (meaning they always count as gone to ground if they are concealed in cover and they didn't run or shoot).  As scouts are invariably veterans, that a 7+ to hit at over 16", in addition, they get a withdrawal attempt after the first shot, which allows them a free move if successful.  So they are hard to hit.  They also stop ambushers from 'appearing' within 8" of them, meaning that scouts in a key position can stifle an ambush.  Add to this their 'eyes and ears' rule and they can remove 'gone to ground' from any unit within 16".

So with just 240pts of Rifles and Machine guns, you would have 32 shots with a 44% chance of destroying a gun nest and a 10% chance of destroying entrenched veteran infantry stand at less than 16".  A combination of a scout team (100pts) removing their conceal, and a su122 assault gun team (130pts), would lead to you hitting on a 5+ with a reroll, and a 47% chance to kill per shot.  IE three dead teams.  Move up and kill the machine gun team, and then start blowing big chunks in the infantry next turn.

Conclusion - it's obviously not that easy...

Clearly a 'real' tank, some simple anti-tank guns or panzerfaust will make short work of an assault gun - but that leads into a whole other plethora of options and complexities.  I hope this helps you understand that picking a Flames list is less "best option in codex * spam" and more about understanding the adversary, synergy and combined arms tactics.

And also why a game set in WW2 with realistic adversaries is actually far more challenging and varied than fighting aliens one minute and space marines the next (and the next, and the next, and the next.... lol).  Suneokun out.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Inquisitiored Genestealer Cult Army List

Magnificent Genestealer Ork Cult over at Ninjabread
Inspired by Zen 40k, I've built a quick list around the concept of a genestealer cult.

I've got the models to proxy this, hence some of the 'fluffy choices', the concept behind this is that a crippled Space Marine hulk has been infested with genestealers.  While the Space Marines cannot mate and are therefore useless to the Genestealers, subjagating a small host in hypersleep was possible.  Subsequent arrival at a properous rim world has led to a particularly dangerous mixture.

Unlike most Cults, this one is build around a pair of powerful psychic twins (see the Alpha Legion influence ... and the fact I'm a twin!)


1501 point Genestealer Cult List
  • Genstealer Magus Twin Bathar  (Corteaz - 100pts) ... access to the Space Marine Armory has allowed the leaders of this cults some rich pickings.  
  • Genestealer Magus Grudun (Librarian - 215pts) ... Terminator Armour, Psychic Stave, Quicksilver, Might of Titan (snigger!), Warp Rift.
  • Grey Knight Terminator Squad, Incinerator, Psybolt Ammo and 2 Double Falchion bearing models (235pts).
  • 10 Genestealers (Death Cult Assassins) with 2 melta warriors in Chimera (233pts)
  • 10 Genestealers (Death Cult Assassins) with 2 melta warriors in Chimera (233pts)
  • 6 Genestealers (Death Cult Assassins) in TL Lascannon Razorback (170pts)
  • 6 Genestealers (Death Cult Assassins) in TL Lascannon Razorback (170pts)
  • Lictor (Callidus Assassin - 145pts)
Anyway, thought it'd be fun.  And it's my favourite favourite 40k army... brotherhood, genestealers and planet consuming anarchy in one go.  Lush.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Follow the Flames - Cassino Campaign First Round Batrep

“...behind every hill there’s another river, and behind every river, there’s another hill."

British Commandoes attempt to storm a Monastery at Monte Cassino

I know, I know - a batrep from Suneokun.  Sit your ass down and prepare to be amazed!

The Cassino Campaign kicked off last night at my local gaming store (Tabletop Tyrants, otherwise known as GiftsforGeeks).  The boards looked amazing and have done plenty to encourage me to finish off my core force for round two the week after next!

The Cassino Campaign in WW2 was one of the bloodiest and meanest battles going, and something more akin to a WW1 trench warfare.  The allies, fresh from defeating Rommel in North Africa, and hoodwinking the Germans with Operation Mincemeat and seizing Sicily, were aiming for the 'Soft underbelly of Europe'.  The problem was that the Italian Facists had gone got themselves a German personal trainer, and that underbelly had more abs than Jodie Marsh.

Jodie Marsh
For indicative purposes only ... "The Soft Underbelly" - Perception versus Reality

The Germans had picked their battlefield well.  Cassino was an extremely rocky and inaccesible environment with massive natural features and difficult terrain.  As such this environment was an anathema to vehicles, it made transport and supply lines difficult, troops could only move slowly and this greatly advantaged the defenders.  There would be no easy breakthrough, exploitation and encirclement.

To further compliment these already demonstrable advantages, the Germans went about building the Gustav line (and behind it the Hitler line and the Caesar line), these enormous fortifications spanned between the frequent hills and mountains across the whole 'leg' of Italy.  They were to prove one of the western allies greatest challenges.  Arguably far harder than the D-Day landings against 'Fortress Europe' with little vehicle support, hitting the Facists at the height of their capabilities and readiness, with the battlefield, fortifications and killspots all in their favour.

Approximately 55,000 casulaties at Cassino, compared to around 12,000 on D Day and 226,386 for Operation Overlord.  This was a very serious and bloody business, but completely overshadowed by the D-Day landings (which occured as the Cassino Victory came in).

Politically the allies were under pressure from the Russians to open up a second front, hence the punch at the 'soft' bit.  It was to prove a impossible task and arguably Cassino never fell, but was retreated from when encirclement finally seems inevitable.  The allies could never bring their numerical advantages to the fore thanks to terrain and early stage errors and bad planning.  The defence by the Germans was remarkable.


The Gaming Campaign

"Our four days and nights were absolute hell; mortar bombs continued to rain down; we had a nebelwerfer rocket through our roof; and the never-ending smoke shells meant that we were living in a world where there was no day. Our nerves were stretched to breaking point, hands shaking so much that cigarettes were hard to light. Hot meals were impossible, as was washing and shaving. My diary notes, ‘it takes all our nerves to move from our position to Company Headquarters 25 yards away’. "
 New Zealand platoon commander on fighting in the town. Ref

Flames are a very well researched and intelligent organisation.  Writing campaigns that are balanced, fun and also fulfill the history buffs is a demanding challenge (certainly more demanding than making up shite about shite, calling it difficult, taking forever AND then getting it soooo wrong, eh GW?).  As such I would recommend looking at the Flames of War Cassino Campaign Overview .

The Campaign is broken down into 'rounds' of skirmishes representing the 4 battles of the Cassino Campaign.  The Different battles represent different routes taken by the allies in and around Monte Cassino.

For this campaign, it really is a trial by fire.  The majority of the Allied gamers are new to the game, with only a handful of battles under their belts.  The German commanders have years of experience in flames at local and tournament level.  A tough ask indeed.

My first round force of 500pts, were put together from the Strelkovy Batalon (Rifle Battalion) in the Red Bear book, for the requirements of the game, I am fielding them as Free Polish Infantry, or Greek - I'm not decided yet.  They are made up of competent (Confident and Trained) troops, based around the performance in a handful of games I've fielded them so far.

Rifle Battalion - 500pts

Rifle HQ (Command, 2nd, Commissar) - 30pts
Rifle Platoon (Rifle and Machine Guns) with 2 additional Maksim HMG - 180pts
Rifle Platoon (Sub Machine Guns) with Kommissar - 145pts
120mm Heavy Mortar Platoon (6) including command and spotters - 145pts

The Battlefield.

 
The Germans are hunkered down in two entrenched positions.  They comprise 2 Grenadier units (Confident trained - same as mine), in addition to a command squad and the trench lines, they have 3 machine gun nests (which are unbelievably evil).  To make matters worse, I have to ford or swim the river, which is dangerous, difficult and makes me immensely vulnerable.  In my advantage ... well I'm attempting this at night.  Which gives the enemy a fair chance of not seeing me... I hope.

Attempt 1 - Mucking about

I'll go through this one quickly, because it's a massacre and a learning experience.  Rather than fording immediately, I get testing with the mortars and my entrenched Rifle and machine gun and Maksim machine gun teams.  3 turns of pounding later and I've caused more casualties than any of my predecessors (Dustin was wiped out without killing a stand and Jack killed one stand), but the fording is left too late.  I move up to the river turn 4, get in the river turn 5, get out the river turn 6, and don't have a chance to entrench (my objective being to 'dig in' as a beachhead on their side of the river by turn six!) ... epic fail.  I get 2 command points for turning up AND having my commander survive (at the back).  As the assault infantry resurface, dawn breaks  - game over man, game over!

Attempt 2 - no mucking about

On the second attempt I line up the SMG's, with the command team attached (in for a penny), on the river bank.  I then surge into the river turn one, while the spotters target the enemy rifle team opposite.  Not firing with either unit means that Dustin has to struggle to spot my teams,  he manages to down a few of the teams on the river, but 4 (of 6) make it across.

On the second turn I move the 4 teams onto the bank and move the other units (including the command team) into the river.  With the unit split between the river and the bank, I have no option to dig in next turn ... but must weather the fire.  The spotters rain down fire on the enemy troops, and the mortars pin the grenadiers! Yeah!  The rifles and machine guns open up, but fail to kill any.  The mortars have so far killed an enemy base.  In a brilliant turn of events, the 'view' rolls of Dustins forces suffer an epic fail and all the in range units fail to spot my shivering troops. - Wow!

Turn three sees me throwing everything against the Nazi's, the sun doesn't rise, giving me darkness as cover.  The HMG's throw everything at the closest Machine gun nest and destroy it!  (12 shots, requiring a 4+, a 6 and then another 6!).  All I need now is a good turn of space marine armour saves and I'll dig in.  The attritional firepower is immense, of the 7 teams on the bank, only 2 survive and they only just hold it together.

Turn four, it's do or die now.  The Mortars hit again, killing another stand, but failing to pin as the grenadier commander rushes across.  I feel a real sense of urgency in the Germans.  Unfortunately, dawn breaks!  The SMG and command team attempt to dig in, but after fording a river, seeing their friend massacred and rallying.  They fluff the 4+ roll to dig in.  As such, no bulletproof cover and the raking fire wipes them off the bank, despite everything I throw at them.

By turn 6 I pummel a whole platoon into desertion, and gain a +1 of the command points.  But with the death of my command team (My polish commander, injured, was rescued after the Russians bombarded the Germans into next week!  So for all the efforts, I was a 4+ away from a +4 Russian victory... and capturing the bridgehead by the skin of my teeth.

Conclusion

So close ... really, I was a 50/50 roll away from walking away with that. The Germans were unlikely to assault my position (due to their own barbed wire and my R/MG team and Maksims covering my men) and although only 2 teams he had only a 2% chance of machinegunning them down ... it was a close run thing.

Getting in and out of the river was sheer murder, and really really nasty.  3 turns of creeping and swimming in the face of enemy fire... I was helped by an astounding piece of luck.  However it clearly ran out then, as I failed 3+ after 3+ cover save.

However, everyone agreed that the river crossing was the worse of the three battles and the result, whilst galling  - was realistic.

What would I do differently, not much really.  Soviet force lists have a big chunk missing, in that smoke mortars aren't used.  This would have made the crossing a lot more possible, as a few smoke shots could have completely silenced the machineguns of the other side (for a turn).  The biggest worry for me

The other battles include assaulting a Monastery (with delayed reserves on both sides AND loads of cover (everyone is always in bulletproof cover!), or assault a barracks through the town (even more bulletproof cover).  I look forward to these.

As for the campaign ... every single allied attack lost.  A combination of entrenchment, machine-gun and tank emplacements, barbed wire, grenadiers and mortars meant that everyone struggled.

We can at least comfort ourselves that the early campaign in Cassino were equally bloody.  And take real comfort in the fact that I can pack my little men up afterwards and go home to my wife.

And finally ... a free gift to my readers

This is a superb Ministry of Defence historical PDF on the Monte Cassino campaign, with quotations, citations and great tactical analysis - Clickety Click here.  Well worth a scan!

Monday, 30 January 2012

6th Edition Leak comments and what sucks

Doing a google image search for bored found this little fella, from an article complaining about wargaming release strategies ... hmmm I'm not alone.
"Bored" search on Google.  It's an article from "6 inch move" complaining about boredom with GW release strategy ... Zoicks!

It's been a couple of weeks since I've read the 6th Edition 'leaked' PDF, and overall I'm just a bit well ... bored.

That's not to say this article will be boring ... I hope ... but all the hype, all the dev, all the expectations have all scuttled along to nothing.  This, combined with the latest release rumours (Dark Angels, CSM and 6th Edition for 2012) have done nothing to give me a buzz about the game.

To explain, I stopped playing 40k after BlogWars.  IT wasn't their fault per-se, but fighting three 'marine' armies in a day.  Losing 2/3rds of the time to Terminators, because I'd bought a 'mixed' guard list ... wasn't fun.  I packed away my 28mm models with a heavy heart. 

To be fair, Infinity has had mixed results for me.  I love the models, the game concept and the play style.  But it's got a steep learning curve and I haven't got enough games under my belt to bite into it.

Since then, the released armies haven't really filled me with hope, in fact the opposite.

The 6th Edition leak was the first 'spark' of interest.  It was quite exciting.  Now, unlike many, I DO believe the leak was a genuine GW document.  However, my gut was always that it was a WIP document.  This has been confirmed locally that this document was the one produced by the 'designers' given freedom ... before the 'editing' process entailed.  since locally for me includes Nottingham ... I'm inclined to agree.

Interestingly, you can see a lot of Flames, Infinity and Hordes influences in there.  Clearly the designers, if given freedom, are fully aware of the limitation of the GW system.  However, I think most of the interesting bits will be chopped out... afterall, accessibility is an important core value.

One that INFINITY might do well to listen to (as brilliant and clever as it is!)

So 6th Edition gave me a spark.  Rumours of Tau and Chaos Space Marines in 2012 got me properly excited.  That would mean that 3 out of 4 of my armies (sorry Tyranids) would be competitive.  This is a definite result!

Than further crushing rumour mill blow, as Tau gets pushed out in favour of an all-Spezz Marin 2012.

Boo.  Double boo.

So now I'm getting more and more bored of the over-hype around 40k.  The biggest problem is that GW seem to take a meteoric age to create ANYTHING.  I've already noted that Flames can produce inch thick codici for all forces on the eastern front ON THE SAME DAY!  That Hordes can poop out prettier models than 40k like a machinegun.  That infinity uses the internet for Wiki and auto army builder for your convenience... so overall, all this 'maneurve' with GW politicking leaves me cold.  It's boring.  The simple fact of the matter is that it isn't the rules, or the codici, or codex-creep, or Smurf-humping that gets me most depressed about the £100's of GW plastic sitting on my shelves.

It's the fact that everything at GW is measured out in glacial timescales.  Why does everything have to take soooooo long.  It's just retarded.

GW codici come out slower than films.  There's no urgency in GW.  You telling me LoTR's film take less effort than a 100 plastic model designs and a few new 8mm thick A4 books, someone's milking the employment cow methinks?

GW rules take forever to change.  We don't want change too quickly, but since they have Errata, can't they spend some effort on it ... I mean seriously.  There needs to be some decision making and fast, upper management get some bones in ya... no seriously, I mean come on!

GW models take forever to release... It's hard to copyright a new mini - when no-one's ever seen one?  Panic GW, panic!  OOOOOORRRR, pay a designer to 'design' a mini OR pay an artist to give you a 'vision' of the mini in the codex.  Copyright issue over.  Wow, that was hard.  Alternatively, start making them quicker?!?

Finally, Finecast is just funny in how shite it is.  I mean really - you expect us to pay more for snappable, non-covertable, highly dubious material ... profit and propoganda before value methinks.

LMMFAO .... wait ... repeat.  Ad infinitum, it's just dull.

I'll be over here, playing on-line game and tabletop games that actually work AND are fun to play (at the same time ... I know, shock horror)!

Oh and F**K my 'commitment' to the game.  I play wargames for kicks, not loyalty.  I'm already married, a good friend, a son and a twin - that's enough commitment for anyone, I have to keep sweet with plastic men?  "I'll get more out if I put more in" ... well I've put shed loads in and I'm  currently dissapointed, will that improve if I double my financial and time based commitment?!?

I doubt it.

Rant out.