Saturday, July 18, 2015

Gaming At Panzerschreck 2015

Ready for a big day of gaming Phil and I were in the zone, ready for anything...

Round 1: Breakthrough vs the Stanton Brothers and pair of Sicherungs kompanies
We deployed in our corner, whilst a great big train drove by
The PaK40s and King Tiger worked it over, whilst Phil's artillery pinned down some infantry heading for the objective. On the left flank my Pumas skirmished with some infantry.
The King Tiger pursued the tank (passing its skill test to move) and destroyed everything but the far Tank Hunter car, leaving it stranded. My Pumas were jumped by StuGs and retreated to the safety of my PaK front.
Getting our first reserve of the game on turn 5, Phil pounced on a weakened infantry platoon, wiped it out and jumped on the objective. The train (as it was still functional) stopped enemy troops from contesting it.
Okay, this was a pretty weird game. We were heavily outnumbered and our reserves just did not want to come on. My Pumas pushed up, shot some infantry, took some hits and retreated. Phil spent most of the game with one unit of heavy mortars on the table. We were lucky to come away with a 4:3 win!

Round 2: Dust Up vs Joe and Cameron with US Tanks and Paras.
For some reason I didn't take a lot of photos in this game, but this was on of the few. Phil's halftracks working over the guys artillery, trying to knock a few off an reduce their effectiveness.
This was a fun game to watch - I say that as my force was pretty static in it whilst Phil, Joe and Cameron fought it out on the far end of the table. Phil pushed up and got punished by a combination of air support and artillery, getting off an assault but running out of steam against some pretty smart opponents. In the end we timed out and both ended up loosing 1:3 as we just could not finish anything. This would become the theme of the weekend.

Round 3: Fighting Withdrawal vs Ken and Damian. Damian stretched his Trained Tigers across the table, whilst Ken backed them up with is SS Panzergrens.
We rushed the near end of the table, ignoring casualties, over a bridge and into Ken's troops. Meanwhile our tanks and guns took potshots at the Tigers. I felt that we should have knocked out more but some great dice, some bad dice, and certainly some average dice made it slow going.
Phil's assualt ran out of steam (Reluctant Trained eh...) but my Pumas managed to get round the flank of Biemeyers Panzer platoon, chipping away at them before getting in behind the line of Tigers.
 Sadly that was all she wrote. Ken and Damian withdrew in good order leaving Phil and I with a single point to show for some pretty intense fighting - 2:5 loss.
Round 4: Free for All vs Mike (who lent me the Pumas) and Andre.
Mike and Andre deployed a massive Soviet gun line stretching the entire table, backed with rock hard infantry and SU assault guns.
Once again we pushed the flank, chipping away at the guns. My Tiger and PaKs also slowly killing the artillery. Yet again those the fragility of Phil's troops was exposed and the lack of "slug it out" ability of the Pumas did not help as Mike's company command T-70 killed off my CO in his Puma.
We put in a decent showing in this game, but Mike was rolling morale tests like a legend and whilst we had a mathematical chance of winning the game his dice kept the Soviets hanging in there. 3:4 loss. 

Round 5: Surrounded vs Paul and Ste with a wall of Soviet infantry and tanks.

Forced to attack the Soviets split their force and sent the bulk of the infantry and T-34s at the objective in the town, whilst a small unit of infantry and SU-100s forced us to keep the back objective secure.
Paul pushed up aggressively, pushing the Panzergrenadier halftracks out of the way and reducing the defensive firepower considerably. Within a couple of turns he would be low on numbers but so would we.
At the other end of the table the Pumas dashed back and wiped out the Soviet infantry before...
dancing around the flanks of the SUs.
This turned out to be a game of two halves. The fun and less stressful end with the Pumas and SUs, and the nail biting end with the rest of the infantry and Phil's force lurking in the streets of the town. Unfortunately for Ste and Paul there was so much firepower in such a small space we were able to wear them down and whilst Phil did not have a lot left it was enough. 4:3 win to us.  

In the end we found ourselves solidly in the bottom quartile of teams, so not a great performance on the scoreboard, but I did get to have a lot of fun running the Pumas around and whilst I still want to paint them army for myself I think it will take a back burner to some Cold War Gone Hot troops... and some Trollbloods of course!

Next up, I've got a few photos from our trip to the Waiouru Army Museum.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

On The Road To Panzerschreck 2015

Over the next few days I'll do a photo dump of my trip to Panzerschreck 2015. Spoiler alert... Phil and I didn't win. In fact we dropped well down the rankings. But we had some awesome games!

These photos aren't technically in order but who cares...
Always time to strike a pose; Phil, Mike, Wayne, Andrew, Mike, Victor and me
Waiouru in the far distance looking cold!
Keeping an eye out for black ice!
Snowball fight!
Fog rolling in... time to leave in case there are white walkers following!
Taupo Hobbies - about an hour north of the rest of the photos. Well worth a visit, lots of cool stuff to check out including some 1/144th scale F-4E Phantoms for my Israelis
Next time, I'll have some in game shots and highlights from the weekends gaming, and then a pile of photos from inside the Waiouru Army Museum. In the meantime, stay frosty.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Getting Excited About Panzerschreck 2015

About 12 months ago on the long drive from Palmerston North and Panzerschreck 2014 Phil and I started discussing a possible team up for this years event. It seemed like a match made in heaven, he claims to know the rules well and I bring a level of charm and sophistication…..

What is Panzerschreck?
For those of you that do not know, Panzerschreck is the oldest (and first) Flames Of War Tournament in the world. It is run by the Manawatu Duellists Society, including our own figure sculptor Evan. For the past few years it has been a teams event where you pick a friend (or rules writer in my case) and build a pair of 1000 point armies. You can trade up to 100 points to help with the list building. You also get to play your games on big 8’ x 4’ tables meaning that there is a lot of real estate to cover. Located in sunny but cold Palmerston North it is a quick 7 hour drive down south so the BF boys get together, hire a big van and declare a road trip!

What are we taking?
Phil already had a list lined up with what he wanted to play – an FHH Panzersturmkompanie from Blood, Guts, & Glory – so I started thinking (as we drove home) about what I could take, but by the time I dropped him off I had a basic idea. Phil had no recon, I wanted to paint Pumas… job done, list built!

Phil’s Component: FHH Panzersturmkompanie from Blood, Guts, & Glory (1090 points)
FHH Panzersturmkompanie HQ 60 points
FHH Panzersturm Platoon 190 points
FHH FlaK Platoon (6x Sd Kfz 251/21)  190 points
FHH Panzerjaeger Platoon (3x Panzer IV/70(V)) 305 points
FHH Mortar Platoon (with Stuka zu Fuss) 165 points
FHH Armoured Flame-thrower Platoon (2x Sd Kfz 251/16) 70 points
FHH Cannon Platoon (4x Sd Kfz 251/9) 110 points

Chris’s Component: Panzerspahkompanie from Atlantik Wall (910 points)
Panzerspahkompanie HQ (1x Sdkfz 234/2 Puma) 50 points
Puma Panzerspah Platoon (1x Panzerspah Patrol - 2 Puma) 100 points
Puma Panzerspah Platoon (1x Panzerspah Patrol - 2 Puma) 100 points
Puma Panzerspah Platoon (1x Panzerspah Patrol - 2 Puma) 100 points
Radio-control Tank Platoon (1x Konigstiger (Porshe)) 250 points
Gepanzerte Panzergrenadier Anti-tank Gun Platoon (3x 7.5cm PaK40) 155 points
Anti-tank Gun Platoon (3x 7.5cm PaK40) 155 points

With the lists largely settled on quite early you would have expect that I would have gotten straight into assembling and painting the key components quite early. Regular readers will know that I never assemble or paint anything early! As the months slipped by, we found ourselves a few months out with nothing started. Phil got stuck in and made up for lost time, I….. well let’s say I kept thinking about it!

As the last few weeks ticked by I started contemplating wholesale list changes till my previous team mate (Mike Haycock) offered the use of his Panzerspahkompanie. Normally I hate borrowing figures as it means I don’t get things painted (tournaments are a great incentive to finish off the odd unit or army) but this time I was exceptionally grateful as I knew I had no chance of finishing (or starting) the force.

What’s our plan?
Don’t really have one! I’ve never used Pumas (well not since a few games during the V2 rules playtesting) so I am going to learn on the job. Lurking, sneaking, and avoiding the enemy will be my top priority. The Tiger II with its host of special rules will find a nice hill to sit on and try to avoid moving, whilst the PaKs blaze away at enemy medium armour, and occasionally move up if necessary. Phil’s job is to take care of aircraft, infantry, medium tanks, guns, and anything else that the opposition has! Looks like we have a plan after all…

Post Match Entertainment
One of the biggest reasons for heading to Panzerschreck is the fun during the drive down and the gaming in the evening. Every year we make a brief stop in at the Waiouru Army Museum but this year we have decided to come back a day later (and avoid the 2am Monday morning arrival at home) and come back on Monday, and include a stop in and tour at the Museum. We are also going to take down BSG (Phil loves being a Cylon!) and a few other games to keep us entertained during the long cold evenings…

As you can tell I am pretty excited about the weekend away “with the lads”, pushing some toy soldiers around the table and generally having a bit of a laugh. All Phil and I need to do now is get a few wins to top it all off.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Armada Rules: First Thoughts

Over the past few weeks I've managed to knock out half a dozen games of Armada, basically playing through the basic scenario that is covered in the Learn To Play booklet which puts the contents of the core box set; one Victory Class Star Destroyer and some TIE Fighters vs a Corellian Corvette, Nebulon-B Frigate and some X-Wings.

As a long time fan (although not necessarily regular) player of naval wargames (Napoleonic through to Modern) the basic mechanics seem to be really intuitive, but how you use them brings in the complexity and replayability. Ships pick actions, and depending on the size of the ship determines how far in advance you must pick them (not as big a penalty as it sounds), resolve actions, fire at your targets, and finally move. Your opponent does the same until you are out of ships, at which point you move on to your Squadrons of fighters. If you want more information you can either download the rules from the FFG website, or better still head over to YouTube where there are a bunch of videos that will take you through the finer points of the game.

What I really like is that with a relatively short (24 page) rulebook you can get up and running quite quickly (I'd watched one video from GENCON and my opponent had read the rules once) without too much fuss. Of course there is always a catch...

The catch is the Rules Reference booklet which adds another 16 pages of rules, clarifications and expanded reference. Basically it helps with all the sticky parts that they did not want you to have to worry about up front. Of course it also serves (for me) to cause some confusion and delays (told you there was always time for Thomas the Tank Engine) as you try to recall where you read a rule. My thoughts are that when in doubt you should head to the Rules Reference document first if you know which rule you are looking for, and the Learn To Play guide if you don't.

Last up is the FAQ. If you have played X-Wing then you will know how important this particular living document is. Coming in at massive 3 pages I have only managed to skim read it so far, but trust me when I say that it is going to be something worse spending a little more time focusing on once I have my head around the core concepts a bit more.

So what do I like about Armada?
  1. I get to fly big ships.
  2. I get a totally different gaming experience to X-Wing.
  3. I get lots of different coloured dice with lots of different symbols.
  4. Finally, I get to play with some friends that are not interested in X-Wing but want to play a game in the Star Wars Universe.
What am I scratching my head about?
  1. Going to have to paint the Fighter Squadrons.
  2. Need to do some touch-ups on the Capital Ships.
  3. Two rulebooks.
  4. If I really need another distraction from painting my Trollbloods.
What am I yet to come to grips with?
  1. Upgrade cards - no biggie as they are just like X-Wing, but grander
  2. Objective cards - these really bring some complexity (or maybe thinking is the right term) to the game.
  3. The subtleties of each ship class.
  4. And last but not least, how to get the best out of your Fighter squadrons.
I've hopefully lined up a 300 point game with some friends next weekend where we will get to try out a few more things and my job before then is to re-read all the rules etc to try and start bedding down the core concepts.

Bottom line though, I like it and I guess I need to work out how to fit more games in.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Taking A Closer Look At Star Wars Armada Ships

A couple of weeks ago Star Wars Armada finally hit the shelves in NZ so I picked up a starter box to check it out (okay, lets be honest I am super excited!).

I'll take time later to take a closer look at the rules, but after a few trial games I am pretty excited. I haven't seen anything mind blowing in there, frankly the remind me of traditional naval wargames but they are fast, fun, furious, have special dice... and you can fly a Star Destroyer! Thats basically all I need...

I took a few close up shots of the models. After the outstanding (and I really mean that!) paint jobs of the new Scum and Villany ships (the Y-Wing and Z-95) I was expecting that Armada would blow my mind. Sadly they are not in the same league. Don't get me wrong, if I hadn't seen what the factory in China was capable of producing I probably would have been really impressed by the Armada ships, but now that I know what they can do I wish that they had maintained those standards.

So here is a closer look at each of the three capital ships...

First up, the CR90 Corellian Corvette

Secondly, the Nebulon-B Frigate

And finally, the Victory-class Star Destroyer

And a size comparison of all three

After spending some time looking over the ships, and the fighters (which are unpainted) I think I have committed myself to... giving them a touch up (for the capital ships) and full paints for the fighters. Not sure how I am going to fit that in with everything else that I should be working on this year (Year of the Trolls anyone?), but I figure if I get them done as they are released and just "stay on target" it cannot possibly be that difficult?

I am also hoping that I can just tidy up the wash where it did not evenly hit the hulls, and then repaint the greys and off-whites, and maybe change some of the colour splashes to differentiate between ships of the same class. As for the fighters I am hoping to airbrush the base colour, then do a little work, through a wash over them and call them done.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Where Have I Been?

Short answer... no where... not really living up to the title of the blog at the moment!

Just realised that we have hit June (D-Day as it happens) and I haven't had an update in a long time! So what is new?
Battlefront has moved! Yep, after the better part of a decade in our old offices we have moved to a new office. Little bit smaller, but nothing wrong with being a bit cozy. Means I might have to be a bit tidier! Last couple of weeks at work have been a whirlwind of packing, unpacking, throwing out, wondering why we did not throw some things out, and finding new places to stash stuff since we dont have any dark corners of an old fish factory to hide things!
I had a long chat (ended up taking 3 or 4 times before the audio recorded) with Ben from Breakthrough Assault last month. Check out audio here... (head straight to the 57 minute mark to get to Act II). I talk about what is happening in the Studio, what is on the cards for 2015, what hobby stuff I should be working on but aren't...

And I have been playing around with some Star Wars Armada... more on that later... (I am terrible taking shots with my phone!)

Finally, life on the home front has been busier than ever with my son picking up a few new hobbies and demanding (literally... "Dad, come play with me!") more of my time. Luckily there is aways time to play with Thomas the Tank Engine!

Hopefully I'll be able to get back into the swing of things over the coming months as I find some hobby mojo, especially with Panzerschreck a month out and some Germans needing to hit the painting table before then.

Catch you next time...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Comets Coming Together

With April coming to a close it has actually been a pretty busy month despite what the blog might suggest. I've been playing some X-Wing, checking out a pretty awesome new Auckland store, chatting to Ben from Breakthrough Assault (a lot) and chipping away at 11th Armoured Division.

Currently I am still in the assembly phase and I was really struggling with the new Comet plastics to get a rhythm going and then something suddenly clicked at our regular Thursday night work hobby evening... I just assembly lined up my last five Comets and (doing 5 vehicles at once)
  1. clipped off the lower hull, upper hull and hull rear plate and glued together
  2. clipped off turret top, bottom, bin, mantlet, then glued together
  3. clipped of hatch, light and gun and glued
  4. turret pins clipped and glued
  5. hull plated clipped and glued
  6. machine-gun section of the frame removed from the rest, clipped and glued
  7. last but not least, tracks clipped out but not glued! Going to be painting them separately and attaching at the end!
It took me more than an hour, but less than two and I was pretty happy about that effort given two tanks a couple of weeks earlier took me about the same amount of time. I did learn though that a pair of really fine clippers is a must for some of those finer parts. I'd been using my large GF9 clippers and they are just too big and unfortunately I'd left my smaller ones at home. Luckily I borrowed Aaron's Tamiya ones and they worked a charm.

With the 10 Comets now all assembled, it is time to hit the M5 halftracks and Universal Carriers. I have a bit of a deadline to hit though as our offices are going to be moving in about a month and the new place doesn't have quite the space for airbrushing that we have now and I'd like to break the back of this army (and my Panzerschreck one) before the move...

Good luck achieving that I say!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

So that was Battlecry 2015

Well the first event of the year is been and gone and I am bushed. Been a while since I knocked out 8 games in two days and I am feeling it.

Upstairs rubbing elbows
Battlecry this year was at a new venue and whilst it was pretty nice, it was quite a bit smaller than the previous one leading to some compromises. On the positive side it was light, airy, in a rather fancy suburb of Auckland (which meant that there were nice places to hang out and have lunch etc, or go for a "between games wander". On the down side though itmissed a lot of the atmosphere of the previous venue where the larger space meant that there were plenty of non-wargaming things to check out. There was also a hiccup in the layout that meant that the upstairs (where I was all weekend) was a bit cramped and really noisy with that many gamers. Day two was not so bad as the Roleplayers moved downstairs and the 1 day Malifaux event had run its course.

On day one I played X-Wing in a 60/90/120/150 point escalation event. Dash and the B-Wings turned up with Dash Rendar leading the charge, and then at each points escalation another B-Wing joined the squadron.

Dash Rendar (57) YT-2400 Freighter (36), Push the Limit (3), Heavy Laser Cannon (7), Lando Calrissian (3), Outrider (5), Hull Upgrade (3)

Blue Squadron Pilot (31) x 3
B-Wing (22), Fire-Control System (2), Heavy Laser Cannon (7)

On day two we had more space upstairs than day one
In the couple of playtest games I had the list seemed really good but as it turned out I think I invested some of my points a bit poorly. Dash is excellent, and Lando is a fantastic (if slightly random) upgrade and I am tossing up between Lando crewing a ship, and Lando piloting a ship...

In the end the shortcomings of my list were found out a couple of times, and I ended up down the end of the rankings. Talking with Andrew and Victor after the event I found myself wishing I had taken a Decimator build. Ironically Victor was wishing he went with the YT-2400. I guess the grass is always greener!

Day two and I ended up taking a very low stress 'jack heavy Kara Sloan list to the 50 point Warmachine event.

Captain Kara Sloan - WJ: +6
- Squire (2)
- Defender (9)
- Stormwall (19)
- Thunderhead (12)
- Minuteman (5)

- Minuteman (5)

Journeyman Warcaster (3)

Reinholdt, Gobber Speculator (1)

With no units I knew I would not have to think too hard about placement and if I could get some good matchups I would just shoot my opponents off the table. As it happened I managed to shoot one off the table (pXerxis) whilst two others outshot me (Legion beasts and Retribution Mage Hunters), whilst one ground me down (after I dropped his caster down to 3 health and missed 3 boosted RAT 6 or 8, Pow 15 or 12 weapon master shots!).

Downstairs luxury
Kara is fun and it was great to really try out the Minuteman 'jack. Not convinced that I am a good enough player to get the most out of them, or that Kara is the best caster for them, but damn the look cool (love the Hunter chassis) and I really do have the urge to paint them now! On the downside I am less interested in painting up Bradigus as every man and his dog had a freshly assembled or painted Brad force. Whilst I need every crutch I can get my hands on I am not sure I want to be one of "those guys" running the new broken toy... If I wanted to do that I could just run Banes of Legion beast spam :)

Next event up on the calender is Ides Of March, the big 50 point, 40+ players, all the hard men coming out to play. In theory I will be running my Circle as I have the most options that are fully painted (yep Ides is a fully painted event) but I am really struggling to pin myself down. I have a week to ponder it so I guess I better find some inspiration fast.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cut The Bull, It’s The 11th Armoured Division!

One of the personal challenges I set myself, and have regularly failed, is to build a new 1500/1750 point army for each book that comes out. Nachtjäger is really testing both my ability to put time aside, as well as just committing to one list.

Looking at the releases there are three things that really stand out to me; Comets, IR Panthers and Jagdpanthers, and the FlaK Wagons. Comets have a nice blend of stats that really appeal to me; the speed of a light tank which will let them bounce from terrain piece to terrain piece, then push around the flanks. A comparable gun to the Panther – AT14 just gets the job done most times, especially when combined with the ability to push the flanks. Semi-indirect fire – I’ve always wanted to run an army with this because I find it so challenging to face. Front Armour 7 – not a huge value but enough to keep enemy medium tanks honest by bouncing half of their shots. Plus I get to put yellow and black decals on them!

Panthers and Jagdpanthers are just awesome, and I don’t currently have a company painted so the plastic kit is really my chance to finish one. I’d be going with the hypothetical “Solution B” IR option because I think it looks cool and would make the army stand out.

Lastly the FlaK Wagons… I’m really just looking at the Marine Grenadiers as a delivery device so I can put 4-6 of these on the table. Plus I can use my existing Late War infantry and AA, and it gives me an incentive to paint up some extra items.

Looking at all three models I really want to build lists for them but in the short term I think I have nailed it down to one (no surprises given the post title) - the Comets of the 11th Armoured Division.
Thinking about the lists.
My plan is to build a tight 1500 point and a 1750 point force, with no additional options (at least in the short term) and at the same time maximum the number of models that I am excited about painting.

1500 points
Armoured Squadron HQ – 1 Comet 145 points
Armoured Platoon – 3 Comets 435 points
Armoured Platoon – 3 Comets 435 points
Motor Platoon – 3 Squads (with .50cal AA MGs) 160 points
Scout Platoon – 3 Carriers (with extra MGs) 105 points
Priority Air Support – Typhoon 220 points

1750 points
Armoured Squadron HQ – 2 Comets 290 points
Armoured Platoon – 4 Comets 580 points
Armoured Platoon – 3 Comets 435 points
Motor Platoon – 3 Squads (with .50cal AA MGs) 160 points
Scout Platoon – 3 Carriers (with extra MG and .50 cal) 110 points
Limited Air Support – Typhoon 170 points

As you can see, both lists feature the same units, with just some tweaks as to how they fit together. In the long term I would definitely look at chopping things around but for now I was keen to keep to four platoons. Adding in another two platoons would require dropping both of the extra Comets (or 1 Comet and the Typhoon) and reduce my chances of completing it any time soon. These lists also tick a lot of painting boxes for me; the Comets just look cool and I never got around to doing my 7th Armoured Cromwells. The new plastic British infantry are really nice and represent a nice way to start building a Rifle Company at some point, plus they are supported by the plastic M5s. The new Universal Carrier is fantastic with a new 1 piece hull/tracks/body resin model with freshly sculpted crew figures. Lastly the Typhoon is just cool and I have been enjoying painting a few one-off aircraft recently.

The next job is to work out how this will fit into my current painting schedule…