A blog about miniatures, wargaming, and the people driven to ruin by them....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

WWII North Africa: Italians Triumphant!

Howdie.  We ran a WWII North Africa game at our club on Monday night using Disposable Heroes and Coffin for Seven Brothers our "ever" popular WWII game system.  Basically, we have not organized a large 15mm game for some time, quite a few of us have substantial15mm arsenals, especially desert appropriate stuff.  So, we made a list, organizing rough parity on each side, and I created a simple scenario.

I tend to go for scenarios that represent tactical problems, rather than always going for specific historical battles.  This one was about coming up with rules for platoons being masked (id unknown), and dividing the table into 5 zones for each side... depending on how we secretly deployed, our plotted positions could change (this had a major impact on how the game was to proceed).

This was an all vehicle (and AT gun) scenario.  Elements were organized into platoons that would activate together, and fire together.

As it turned out,  our lists were not entirely accurate, and not everything was "desert worthy"... but we made the best of it anyway :)

The Axis players (including me and my trusty Italian berserkers) decided to hold the center with our 8.8cm artillery, screened with Italian 47/32 artillery, and artificially bolstered with "dummy" platoons (which moved about like real platoons, until unmasked and proven to be "dummies").  The two Italian forces would try to get as much British attention as possible, and allowing the Germans (with their much better guns) to knock out the British vehicles.  We decided to commit to the 4 flank zones, in an attempt to envelop the British.

Of course, the British decided to deploy their slow-heavies, the Valentines and Matildas, in the center, and push both of their flanks in an attempt to envelop the Germans and Italians... so we ended up two meeting engagements on both flanks, and a long range duel in the center.

But... the British failed to commit to either far flank, which resulted in both Axis far flank forces being driven further across the board.  My Italians, traveling in a wide valley on the extreme Axis right, were pushed right up against an opposing British force.  I presumed this to be the end of my Italians....

A scene of the first turn of the game, me striking my 'lil Duce pose... notice the furball starting on my table edge...
My poorly armored, and woefully undergunned Italian force found itself entangled with British Shermans, Crusaders, Humbers, and M3 Grants.  We desperately maneuvered on each other (me especially, as I looked for side and rear shots) as these platoons quickly became unmasked, and casualties began to accumulate.

A bit more detail, slightly later in the game...  note the soft glow of burning Shermans, and the heavy damage to a Sherman and a Crusader... ignore the burning Semovente 47/32....
At these close ranges, with many flank and rear shots, my Italians were able to actually inflict significant losses on the British.  A true upset in the scenario.

A shot of the entire 6x12 table.... you can see many still-masked platoons moving into the vast empty space in the center.... I made up dust clouds to indicate vehicles moving at speed, a nice looking effect, that also counted as linear obstacles...
There was actually the rest of the table to worry about, but I mostly was watching my side :)  On the far flank, a very strong force of Germans, including a Tiger, tangled with the other British punch, also a mix of Shermans, Lees, and Crusaders.  More Germans lurked on the other side of the valley ridgeline, dueling with the Grants to their fore.  These Germans would send a couple of vehicles to try to help my Italians.  The knot of Valentines and Matildas in the center would claim a few Italian vehicle kills from the other Italian force, but would slowly be whittled down by artillery, German tank, and yes, even Italian tank, fire.

My Saharianas race into the rear of the British, causing some carnage... shortly afterwards, a newly unmasked platoon of undamaged Shermans would turn 75mm guns, and loads of .30 mgs on these, and brew two of them up :(

The table kind of looked liked the battles in ... another game system.... which is unusual for DH.  Normally, the vehicles spread out.  But, with the vehicle platoon activation, movement, and firing (mechanisms to keep this large game going quickly) this resulted in the vehicles clumping together.

The German tanks, our presumed killers of the table, took some hits throughout the game...
.. but other than the 8.8 AA guns, they did not seem to kill many British vehicles.  They did claim a few.

On the far flank, the sole Tiger tank prowled... to no effect.  In fact, as the German commander of that flank lamented, it was the lowly truck with 20mm AA gun (seen beyond the glorious Tiger) that caused 50% of the British casualties (1 of the 2 ko'd Brit vehicles on that end) down there...
In the end, is was not even close.  We finished up with 48 points for the Axis, vs 18 points for the British... mostly by holding victory locations throughout the game, but also for the disparity in vehicle kills.

On my flank, the so-called Valley of Death, I had lost 1x Semovente 47/32, 2x Semovente 75/18, 2x Sahariana... with a heavily damaged M-13/40 and Semovente 75/18.  But, my Italians had managed to destroy (with the help of a German SdKfz 222) 3 Shermans, 2 Crusaders, and a Humber.  Damage was dealt to the 2nd platoon of Shermans by long range 8.8cm AA hits from the rear, as these British vehicles were forced from their intended objective, in an attempt to contain the wrath of the Italian menace on this flank.  Combined with the damage to the Grants, the British were not able to push the center because of the Italian threat.

I am probably down playing the role of my fellow Axis leaders.  But you must forgive me.  It was my one, my only, moment of glory with my 15mm Italian armor.  And I enjoyed every second of it!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hoth Battle.... aka Night of the Wampa!

Howdie.  Just last night I participated in a gigantic game, the Imperial assault on the Rebel Echo Base hidden on the ice planet Hoth.  I was tasked by Jayson Gardner ( you may know him from such books as Where Heroes Dare and Primera Battala ) and Bryan Miley ( of No More Room in Hell infamy ) to complete vehicle and infantry stats for this game, using my current sci fi rules system Zero Sum Oblivion.

Zero Sum Oblivion was not written with the Star Wars universe in mind... but it was written to allow players to develop their own troops and backgrounds to meet their expectations of a sci fi gaming system.  In the event, the troops were statted out with no trouble.  The vehicles were a bit trickier, as it was important for the game to proceed like the battle as shown in the movie The Empire Strikes Back.  In the end, it seemed to work out, as the Rebel players desperately tried to stop the slowly advancing AT-ATs.  Dozens of storm troopers, and most of the supporting AT-STs, would crumple to the snowy ground under withering Rebel fire... but at the same time, one after another of the snow speeder crashed, as Rebel ATGAR and DF.9 guns were silenced, and the defensive trenches cleared of Rebel infantry.

Ultimately, the Rebel leaders would concede defeat once all three AT-ATs had moved into close range to the power generator.  There are rumors of a continuation fight in the Rebel complex, as storm troopers fight corridor by corridor, room by room, to cleanse Echo Base of its Rebel infestation....

Staging prior to start of game.... the AT-ATs and AT-STs would start at the table edge.

Here, the Imperial infantry are advanced into their starting positions.... no one seems eager to take the big open spot in the middle.  Commander Gardner declared that even open snow conferred incidental (-1) cover.  The storm troopers would have to trust in their Emperor and the quality of their armor.
Rebel Speeders are unleashed.... and the carnage begins.

A break in the action, for Wampa cake... what does it look like from inside Echo Base....

The storm troopers on the Imperial left flank take heavy casualties but empty the trenches to their front... Rebel commanders desperately try to move more units to protect the hangar... on the Imperial right, losses are lighter and the Rebels have little left to stop the storm trooper advance.  The battlefield is lit by numerous burning wrecks, including one area known as the bonfire of death (as everything near to it seemed to erupt in flames sooner or later).

The final Rebel gambit was to use troop carts to deploy additional Rebel forces from deeper inside the base... you can see one troop cart empty, all of its infantry occupants gunned down without a chance to even fire a single shot.  The AT-ATs were now in close range to the generator, and the battle comes to a close.

It was a great game, I personally had a lot of fun, thanks to Jayson and Bryan for including me in this Hoth battle.  I think overall my stats for the game elements worked pretty well... unfortunately no Rebel speeder had the chance to try a harpoon cable attack (they were making every effort to gain position to do this), and ultimately "no AT-AT was harmed in the making of this game" to the misery of the Rebel commanders.

Ever seen what a Wampa can do to a storm trooper, son?  Well we wanted to find out.  3 Wampas against 16 storm troopers...

3 dead Wampas and 8 dead storm troopers.  The Wampas are pretty tough, but maybe I needed to go a little bit further with them.

Til next time.....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sci Fi: Battle for Ghenna IV Continues....

.... as I continue to test out gaming theories on my unsuspecting fellow game club members!  But I digress...

Basically, I ran two games, one very small and short, and one larger and longer, to watch the integration of light scout walkers with infantry.  The walkers seemed to attract most of the attention, and they had a pretty high casualty rate by the end of the large game.

Here was the basic table set up for both games (slightly changed between games)...
Somewhere near the water processing station of Ghenna IV, Ni'Hon PLF have deployed a small force of infantry supported by light scout walkers.  Startled Free Miner militia race back to their housing units, and the battle begins...

The first shot of the game tore the legs from a Ni'Hon walker, effectively crippling it for the game...
Yes, and if that walker looks suspiciously like an oop Battletech Archer, you'd be right.  I am a cheapskate, and if I have boxes full of 6mm scale 'mechs that look great as 15mm light vehicles, no one is going to stop me from using them.

The Free Miners were pretty effective in cutting down the Ni'Hon elite infantry, and gained convincing possession of at least one objective, winning the short game.

In the meanwhile, a strong force of Pride Warriors (affectionately nicknames "war cats" by the locals) landed.  Daunted by their inhuman ferocity, the Ni'Hon PLF and Free Miners hastily formed an alliance of convenience to fight the common foe.  The following are images from the larger, 4 platoon game.  You will notice a number of different walkers, each side having its own "color".

An early shot of the game, as war cats have already screamed onto the table, apparently unfazed by the looming mechanical Ni'Hon menace to their fore...
The Free Miners surged into their living area, moving aggressively to dislodge the Pride Warrior invaders.  They even experimented with charging into hand to hand combat...
... but after losing an entire team of 6 models for eliminating only 1 Pride Warrior, the experiment was not repeated again during the game.

A giant hand looms across the land, as tiny figures scurry for cover....
A Ni'Hon walker (looking suspiciously like a Rifleman) maneuvered on the Pride Warrior infantry, inflicting some casualties.  The war cats responded by sprinting one of their Daishi-like medium walkers into the rear arc of the Ni'Hon machine... and lined up the shot....
Unfortunately, the war cat celebration was short lived.  Apparently, the green hued walker positioned itself with its side to an alert PLF ATGM team.  The Yabu AT-12 missile burned towards the war cat walker....
... and slammed into the side of its head, with devastating results.

While the Ni'Hon were continuing to inflict losses on the Pride Warriors on one side of the table, on the other side, the Free Miner militia was completely out classed and out numbered by their opponents ( the miners only fielded 1/3 of the total human point value, and it took some time for PLF elements to begin to engage the cats on the miner side of the battle).  Below, one of the cobbled together Free Miner scout walkers (I think they named this one "Hussar") lurks behind a solid worker dorm, in an attempt to avoid spontaneous combustion as Pride Warrior medium walkers and teams of fast moving infantry advance.
To no avail....
But at least at this point of the game, the Ni'Hon PLF were beginning to engage both war cat platoons.... notice another downed Ni'Hon walker, and the accumulated penetrating hits (green markers) assigned to both Ni'Hon and Pride walkers.
The next to last war cat walker soon fell, leaving only 1 badly damaged Ni'Hon walker facing off against 1 badly damaged Pride Warrior walker.
In the end, there was little doubt that the war cats had won the battle.  The miner force had been gutted, and though the PLF still had measurable strength on the table, the cats had firm control of one of the objectives.  Casualties were moderate in both the Ni'Hon and cat infantry.

The walkers, on the other hand, took a beating.  2 of 3 Pride medium walkers destroyed, the survivor badly damaged.  2 of 3 Ni'Hon light walkers destroyed, the survivor badly damaged. 2 of 2 miner light walkers destroyed, no survivors.

Not sure what I learned about integration of walkers and infantry, other than everyone likes to shoot at vehicles.  A lot. 

But all the players had a good time, there were plenty of tense dice rolls.  The scenario was a simple, straightforward meeting engagement... simply further playtesting. 

I did include most of my "electric box buildings" in the game, as well as another sci-fi terrain piece, I call the globe trees... here is a close up of one...
A pretty simple method that produces a completely alien looking form of vegetation.  I planned these for 28mm John Carter of Mars games, but they look great in 15mm too (though as quite large plants), and mixed pretty well with the aquarium jungle.  I should look for more of these to put together.

Thanks for reading, it is starting to appear to me that things have not gone very well for my miners.  Their best success was against the Ni'Hon... who in their turn managed better success against the Pride Warriors than the miners did.

Will this spell the end of Ghenna IV and the birth of Lidderbachs IV?  Only time will tell...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sci Fi Buildings for Ghenna IV

Howdie.  As I continue to work on my 15mm sci fi project, I thought I would share the progress on my buildings.  The beleaguered Free Miners of Ghenna IV need some place to stay, and defend, after all.  I personally like inexpensive (CHEAP) and easy methods when working on gaming projects.  So, when it was suggested to me to try to use electric boxes as the shells of buildings, I was all over it.  Some of the following boxes cost as little as $0.37 (in my area, anyway) and none that I bought cost more than $0.99.

 Those are finished dormitories.  I added steel bases for "windows" and "doors" (having something glued makes them seem more real than my normal preferred method of just painting that kind of thing on buildings)... used a self adhesive cable bracket for a roof hatch (and they look pretty good for this purpose)... and a wire nut as either a communications or ventilation device (take your pick).

Keeping with my story line... the buildings are designated as "TC" for temporary construction.  During the initial founding of the Ghenna IV mining colony, the miners held a flimsy contract with a subisdiary of Marano Industries.  Among the many articles modified, reduced, or completely ignored by M.I. were those related to the gradual updating and replacement of the TC buildings.  As you can see, despite the robust nature of the original materials (hey, even Marano Industries can't go cheap on everything), decades of abuse by the miners and the weather of Ghenna IV have taken their toll.  Oxidized materials have left indelible stains as they slough off from vulnerable entrance ways.

 Here some miners enjoy recreational shooting with newly arrived visitors.  The TC dormitories feature ground level de-contamination chambers, storage, independent power sources (mostly offline at this point), and some repair facilities.  The second floor is given over to individual med centers (woefully undersupplied), kitchen and food storage, recreation center, sanitary facilities, and supplementary bunks.  The upper floor is entirely for bunks.  Overcrowding is a major issue on Ghenna IV, but at least with three shifts going full time, the dorms are never full at any given time.

The poor housing and maintenance may be one of the prime causes of the miners going independent in the first place (that, and the lengthy distance from the nearest United Terran military site).  But Marano Industries has never forgiven or forgotten a transgression from any mining colony...

The following is an image of some "works in progress" which will represent major buildings (I am thinking of a water capturing plant, with monitoring station and clean storage tank... and also a small factory or vehicle repair center).  I still need to complete the painting on these.

It certainly has not improved inter-species relations that the new visitors have been referring to the planet as "Lidderbachs IV", whatever that means...

Finally, here are some "off the rack" models.  For the round boxes, one is destined to become Das Wunder Bar, the tavern/rec center that usually ends up being the meeting house for most important discussions.  The other will be the "real" command center, featuring a small hospital, and communications center.  The other rectangular boxes... well, I don't know yet....

I have seen many examples online of people using these boxes to good effect.... those with the dedication to dremel the "wings (actually, brackets for nails and screws) probably end up with a better looking product.  And there are definitely a number of companies selling sci -fi terrain add ons, like doors and windows, which look much better than my simple, mostly paint-detailed, jobs.  Still, I am satisfied with how these have been turning out... and the fact that everything cost me about $20 (that's all of the components) is fantastic.

Hope you enjoyed your tour of downtown Ghenna IV, come again, and don't forget to pack your beam rifle next time!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Horror: Von Leech and Harrington Families


I've trying to keep at my Horror projects, specifically the iconic creatures of the night that haunt most places of the world.  So I took a look at the von Leech family and their distant cousins the Harringtons.

The von Leeches enjoy nightime walks, late snacks, and gloomy graveyards.  They are definitely not into  beaches, pina coladas, or walking in the rain.

All of these miniatures are from West Wind, Vampire Wars.  The child vampires are from the Kindernacht pack, and are suitably creepy.  OK, I'll be honest... I don't think these are the most precise sculpts on the market, BUT, I also think that there is a great depth of character in these miniatures.  That's why I bought them instead of any of those other (many, many) vampire miniatures on the market.

Herr von Leech and Frau von Leech (in the red dress), look like they are ready to tear into your throat.  The kinder are, as I said, suitably creepy, especially little Elise floating around on toe tip.  Frau von Leech's cousin Annette "The Frizz" Blankowsky looks like an insane marionette.  All in all, they turned out very nice.  I went with a simple, fast paint job for each.  Nothing too fancy, but very servicable.  They all have blank white eyes, makes them a little more unsettling.  I wish that Herr von Leech didn't have the sword and dagger... its meant to be useful in the V. Wars system, I guess, but for me, I'd prefer they just use fangs and talons.

The Harringtons also enjoy nighttime walks (especially by moonlight), late snacks, and gloomy graveyards.  Walking in the rain is no problem.  Beaches are ok, but they have been a little busy lately, munching on folks in the neighborhood...

These are from the Blue Moon set, Howling Good Time.  What is interesting is that each werewolf is different from the rest... one is in near wolf form, one is actually relatively calm looking, another is angry and menacing, but that big Loup Garou looking mother in the middle is absolutely horrific.  These painted up very quickly, I made sure to put some un-wolf like colors on each miniature, representing human hair color, or pinkish skin, whatever.  Once again, fast and simple, but I like how they turned out.

The big guy gets a choice of three heads...so I have two left over to use as scenics or bitz.

I did not finish basing any of these, as I am working on some monster hunters right now, and intend on  finishing all of that basing together at one time.

More to come, thanks for looking.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sci Fi ... 15mm!

Howdie.  Long time since my last post, been very busy.  I have been spending some time working on a science fiction project, and thought I could at least share the miniatures I am using.  It all started in a galaxy far far away....

Meet the beleaguered Free Miners of Ghenna IV....

15mm Rebel Minis

 Normally hard working, they like to spend their off hours in Das Wunder Bar, the colony watering hole.  They live in a small settlement, isolated on a habitable moon in an otherwise deserted system that just happens to lie in the Sea of Sorrow between the "Unity" expansions of the United Terrans and the less-than-friendly Ni'Hon Empire.  Times used to be good, but not so much anymore.  To augment their obsolete Marano Industires MI-12 assault rifles, they have converted sterilization units into man portable flamethrowers, and inter-ship signals into missile launchers and heavy lasers.

You see, they have had a few too many hostile house calls lately.  The UTMC or Ni'Hon Planetary Landing Forces might arrive any day, but in the meanwhile the Host of Prides have landed a "visiting" party or two already.  The cat-like warriors of the Prides, known as one of the Fighting Races, only take prisoners when they are hungry.

15mm Khurusan

Their martial technology, including battle armor and heavy beam rifles, is well advanced of the primitive weapons of the Free Miners.  Luckily the landings on Ghenna IV have been small raids rather than full scale invasion for the purpose of conquest.

Sometimes you don't have to look further than your own back yard for trouble.  And sometimes miners "delve too deep"... finding something they wish they hadn't.  No one knows where the chitinous horrors came from, only that they were completely.... alien!

15mm Khurusan

Exoskeleton armor, stronger than steel teeth and talons, they exist only to find hosts for their parasitic broods... though they have been known to munch on the odd miner now and again.

The life of a miner in the Sea of Sorrow may seem full of adventure, and the union benefits may sound like a treasure beyond your wildest dreams, but son, I'm telling you, you need to stay home on the farm!

Thanks for looking!