Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Six Turn War - Fate Of A Nation AAR

This picture captures the Israeli side of the game perfectly...
Gaming returned to full form for the Fawcett Avenue Conscripts this past week with Dallas hosting.  We played "Fate Of A Nation", the Battlefront "Flames of War" rules supplement for the Six Day War.   The house was packed as many Conscripts stopped in for gaming and visiting after the summer, and some new Conscripts took in the atmosphere as well - I think there were about twelve people out - quite a crowd!
IDF forces before the game 
Part 1 of the Egyptian Forces

Part 2 of the Egyptian Forces
The scenario was taken from the Flames of War rules, one of the defensive battles from the rule book.  We imagined an Egyptian battalion commander on the second day of the war in the Sinai, seeing the army collapse around him, rallying some troops outside of the Mitla Pass to try and hold back the IDF spearheads and buy some time for his comrades to reach the (relative) safety of the crossings over the Suez Canal.

Conscripts receive their briefings before the game starts
The very small but hard-hitting IDF force would have six turns to capture the objective in the middle of the Egyptian half of the table.  Half of the (very large) Egyptian force would be in reserve.

M51s at their start points on the table 
The Egyptians lie in wait...
The IDF force was comprised of a total of 8 M51 Ishermans - one company commander, one platoon of three tanks and one platoon of four tanks, backed up with a mechanized infantry platoon in M3s and priority air support from the Israeli Air Force.

I wonder which Conscripts set up this particular deployment? :)
Egyptian AAA and Mech Infantry Command wait in the centre - the old house is the IDF objective
The Egyptians had a company of nine T-55s, a company of six IS-3s, a platoon of three SU-100 tank destroyers, a mechanized infantry company in BTR-152s and two ZSU-57-2s.  It was a LOT of stuff. With so many folks out to play, we subdivided the T-55s into two smaller companies - one of five tanks and one of four.  We also split up the mechanized infantry company into platoons, something not strictly within the rules, but whatever.

Air support arrives…but not much happens
Dallas, Indo, Kevin, Brian and Mike all took command of the Egyptians, while Dave, Graeme (hope I spelled that correctly) and Bill took command of the IDF.

M51s roll out - confident of victory...

This ZSU-57-2 was taken out by an M51 on the first turn…would end up as one of the few losses for the Egyptians in the game...
I have only played Flames of War a few times.  The last time we played "Fate Of A Nation", four Centurions took on like 20 T-55s and shot them to pieces in the space of three turns at the cost of only two tanks.  I expected the Sherman tanks would have similar results.  But we were in for a surprise!

"Hey - was that a hit from an SU-100?"
The M51s press ahead without their comrade - after all, their superior gunnery will surely prevail, right?
IDF radio net - "Hey! WTF???"
The Egyptians started with the SU-100s, the IS-3s, the ZSU-57-2s and the command element of the mechanized infantry deployed on the table, with the rest of the force in reserve.  The IDF's whole force started on the table.  The IDF players made plans to destroy the Egyptians one platoon at a time, counting on their terrible gunnery and weak morale to sink their superior numbers.

Egyptian armour tangles with the advancing IDF; one T-55 is lost, another bailed out, but they keep advancing
And yet…in the first turn, the D'Assault Ouragan made its first run, and only managed to bail out a couple of SU-100s.  What at first seemed flukey was in retrospect an ominous sign for the IDF and portent of favour for the Egyptians.  The bailed out SU-100s re-mounted, and promptly knocked out an M51.

Dallas takes out one of Kevin's M51s...

Kevin loses a second M51…ruh roh...
As the turns continued, the IDF players suffered a string of terrible luck with their tank gunnery.  In "Flames of War" you roll a Firepower Check to see if you blow up the target.  In many cases, with 105mm high-velocity shells from the magnificent gun on the M51, this is literally a 2+ roll.  But the IDF players rolled "1" after "1" after "1"…the tanks would bail out, and because they were not destroyed this would have serious implications for the IDF attack.

The tide of Egyptian steel threatens to overwhelm the IDF...
Meanwhile, the Egyptian players, beset by clouds of negative modifiers and struggling to hit the veteran IDF tankers, would roll very well and start to make a hit here and there - after all, they were rolling buckets of dice with so many tanks on the table - with more and more arriving every turn with the reserve rolls.  Dallas's T-55 company of five tanks weathered several turns of direct hits from IDF guns - either rolling Vegas with his front armour or cheering as Kevin and Dave would roll a "1" on the Firepower Check - to knock out several M51s.

Bill's mechanized infantry dismount to prepare for a desperate assault...
The poor M51s did not hold out well against direct hits from 100mm and 122mm guns - in fact, their armour could not stop the shells.  Even the roll of a "6" would not prevent the Egyptian guns from penetrating the old armour. 

And the Egyptian players were spot on with their Firepower Checks, knocking out one or two M51s every turn.  Considering the IDF only had 8 tanks, it was a loss rate the IDF force could not endure.

Dallas, Brian and Indo deal with the last of the M51s - that's 8 M51s lost in action!!
The air support had a rough night too…again and again, the bombs and napalm would have no effect, and when it did, the crew would bail out, as opposed to having the vehicle destroyed.

It ends in tears for the IDF…their mechanized troops are gunned down by the armour
The final scene - a devastating victory for the Egyptians of the United Arab Republic
The IDF fought to the bitter end, with Bill leading a last-ditch charge of his mechanized troops toward the objective.  But it was not to be - done in by a tidal wave of Egyptian armour, the IDF force was knocked out.  The IDF may have won decisively won the Six Day War, but last week they decisively lost the Six Turn Battle.

Cairo would have looked like as reports of the great victory were shared over the radio! Praise the gunnery of Dallas, Indo, Mike and Brian, heroes of the revolution!!
So that was our first real game of "Fate Of A Nation".  You will notice I didn't impose my usual mandatory minimum distances on the tanks or anything like that.  It certainly was a crowded table, but it was still a fun and very light-hearted game with lots of humour and sportsmanship on both sides.

Of course in the real Six Day War, the Egyptian army, leaderless, poorly deployed, shocked by the IDF attack and without any air cover, were utterly routed. But they did manage to put up tough stands here and there, so to me this game represented one of those instances - a sharp shock to an advancing IDF column, which would have been dealt with by a sudden hit from the flank by another IDF force.

I don't have a lot of experience with Flames of War, and chances are I missed/screwed up some rules that may have made things inadvertently tougher on the IDF players, but to me the game showed how the small elite IDF forces could really dish it out but, particularly in the old Sherman tanks, had a glass jaw.  There was very little room for error and bad luck, and the IDF players had terrible, terrible luck with their dice.  Those missed firepower checks on the first and second turns were decisive - if the Egyptian tanks had been destroyed, their companies would have started to melt away and it would have been a very different game.

Flames of War still has a few "gamey" aspects that I dislike, but overall it was a lot of fun.  It's a good excuse to move a bunch of toy soldiers around and blow them up!  I hope we can play this again sometime soon.  Thanks to Dallas for hosting, and to everyone who came out to play, watch and visit!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Egyptian T-55 Company in 15mm

Egyptian T-55 company in 15mm - models from Battlefront
Before I got too much further back into Horus Heresy stuff, I wanted to finish off a project I had started back in the spring - completing Egyptian and Israeli forces for Battlefront's "Fate of a Nation" supplement.  I had painted quite a bit of stuff through the spring and summer for both sides, but true to my short-circuiting attention span, I eventually got distracted by other projects even with the finish line in sight!  This T-55 company was the last component I needed for the Egyptian force. I finished three T-55s in July, started on the rest of the company, but suddenly trailed off on to other things.

The T-55 - an inconic piece of Cold War era kit. A decent and modern MBT for the era of the Six Day War, they didn't get a chance to do too well in 1967 for the Egyptians, and the IDF destroyed a great number of them, and captured so many they refit them for IDF service!
I have the attention span of a gnat.  Anyway, while I did this other stuff, six T-55s were sitting on the painting table with a base coat of paint. After weeks of passing over them I finally snapped and finished them off this week.  So here is a completed T-55 company, nine tanks strong.

The tank with the open hatch will be used to represent the company commander
These painted relatively fast, but as I said in my previous post on these vehicles, the quality of the cast metal accessories is very, very disappointing. The cupola MGs, fenders, hatches, fuel tanks and crew were all very poor quality castings.  A great disappointment considering how much you pay for them.

Tactical numbers are from Battlefront; I don't know that the Egyptian army of 1967 was too rigorous when it came to turret numbers, but I think it adds a nice flourish to the vehicles
The main colour is GW's "Zandri Dust", pin-washed with GW's "Agrax Earthshade" wash and weathered liberally with some dark brown chipping and a bit of soot and dust coloured weather powder. The numerals are all decals from Battlefront.  And while their accessories seem to be taking a dive quality-wise, the decals are top-notch!

In Flames of War, the Egyptian companies essentially move as platoons...so this will be a horde of tanks...
This completes my initial Egyptian force for "Fate Of A Nation". In addition to these bad boys, I have a company of IS-3s, a company of mechanized infantry, and a pair of ZSU-57-2s.  It works out to something like just over 1000 points of stuff for the table.

We'll see how long they last on the table tonight!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beer League Action (With Footdar!)

It`s fall, which means it`s time for another season of the Winnipeg 40K Beer League!

Mission 1: Secure footing
After making planet fall the Chaos forces must press their advantage and quickly strike to take hold of the defenders strong points along their outer defenses hopefully bringing their scattered army to bear before the defenders can react.

Objective: Emperor’s will

Secondary objectives: First Blood, Slay the Warlord, Line Breaker

Deployment: Pitched battle

Special rules: Night fight, reserves, mysterious objectives, scattered forces, Defenders, Attackers

Scattered forces: You may, but don’t have to, deploy your Warlord and any troops choices on the table, the rest of your army must go into ONGOING reserves unless they are put into normal reserves. Units that must enter normal reserves still have to enter normal reserves. Ongoing reserves will arrive by moving onto the table from your table edge on turn 1 and may not arrive by any other means. Other units in normal reserves may arrive as per the special rules of that unit (ie deep strike, outflank etc)

Defenders (Forces of Order): Units that take up a Heavy support choice gain Objective Secured.

Attackers (Forces of Chaos): Units that take up a fast attack choices gain Outflank, units that have Outflank gain Acute Senses.

***

This time I went in with a mixed all-foot Eldar force:

  • Phoenix Lord Asurmen
  • 8 x Dire Avengers
  • 8 x Dire Avengers
  • 5 x Swooping Hawks
  • 5 x Warp Spiders
  • 4 x Dark Reapers, Starshot Missiles, incl. Exarch with Fast Shot
  • Wraithlord, with 2 x Flamers, Bright Lance, and Ghostglaive
  • Aegis Defense Line with Icarus Lascannon

Total=997 Points

The Aegis Defense Line is a resin kit from Mr. Dandy. The model is really evocative of the Eldar, and it comes with anti-aircraft guns, too. I just swapped out the Eldar-y Quad-gun for a Pulse Laser from my bits box.

Graeme brought over an interesting Tyranid force:

  • Hive Tyrant, with wings and Heavy Venom cannon (Warlord)
  • Hive Tyrant, with wings and Stranglethorn cannon
  • Harpy, with twin-linked Venom Cannon
  • 3 x Warriors, with Deathspitters
  • 13 x Termagaunts
  • 13 x Termagaunts
  • 10 x Hormaguants, with poison sacs
  • 10 x Hormagaunts, with poison sacs
  • 10 x Gargoyles

Three(!) flying monstrous creatures (including two, level-2 psykers) anchored this large force.

***

Graeme set up first, placing his lone objective in the water treatment plant near the centre of the table. He really wanted to get his forces stuck in! I countered by placing my objective deep in the southeast corner, with a line of sight to the enemy objective. I placed the Aegis Line there too, hoping to hold that objective against all comers.

The first few turns, Graeme basically ran or flew everything south towards the Eldar Defense Line, except for the Warriors and a squad of Termagaunts, who seized the central objective. For their part, the Eldar gunned down everything that got into range, losing the Dire Avengers to concentrated fire and the close combat attacks of one of the Hive Tyrants. The Hawks bounced around the Tyranid backfield, but were finally driven off by the Tyrant HQ. The last of the Spiders over-reached himself, teleporting straight into the Warp trying to get in range of the Tyrant HQ.

Below, Asurmen and his Dark Reaper retinue (with "Objective Secured"!) hold the line against the big bugs. The Hive Tyrant to the west had only one wound left, so Graeme retreated it from the Wraithlord.

Camera Roll-1044

Graeme played agressively, trying to get the Tyrant to cast a psychic power. Sadly, he rolled Perils of the Warp, and the tyrant killed itself!

Camera Roll-1045

At the end of the game, each side held an objective. Forces in each other's deployment zones were either killed or driven off. Early on, the Eldar had managed First Blood (those nasty, poisonous Hormagaunts had to go), so the final score was 4VPs to 3VPs for the Swordwind!

Camera Roll-1046

Result: Eldar Win

"Man of the Match" was Asurmen himself, who tanked countless shots directed against the Reapers.

For the last few years I have fielded very heavily mechanized Eldar forces ("Serpent Spam"). Since the spring I have been having fun running foot Eldar. You get a surprising number of models on the table, and it throws out a lot of firepower. Asurmen is great for tanking shiots, especially with his Warlord Power, which allows him to re-roll saving throws of "1" (note that he has a base save of 2+).

As Graeme said, "That's not annoying at all."

World Eaters Support Squad Finished

World Eaters Tactical Support Squad
 Here in the Canadian prairies we speak of summers being brief or short - and it looks like we are lowering the bar again in 2014.  After such a brief summer, the dread winter siege is already looming to the west. At least I made the most of my summer vacation at the end of August - and I even managed a bit of painting while I was away! Up first for show, I finished the World Eaters Tactical Support squad that I had started earlier in August.

Mark IV armour suits on these Marines
The figures are all 28mm Space Marines from Forge World - they are equipped with Mark IV power armour. All of these troops, with the exception of the officer, are armed with Volkite Calivers, exotic weapons of the Horus Heresy era.  I don't know if they will be much good in the game, but they sure look cool, and that's key.

Volkite Calivers...they look really eerie, very cool - excellent sculpts from Forge World
I was very rusty painting the models, or at least it felt that way.  I was probably distracted by being at the lake. In particular, it was tough to make the white armour look "right" - on some of them it looks a little streaky.  And I really struggled to apply the weathering consistently.

The embossed shoulder pads are great - and as I have said before, addictive
I want the Marines to look a bit worn, like they have seen action.  But with weathering I always struggle on the "less is more" test.  Not so bad when you go a bit overboard on tanks, but it was hit and miss on these guys, particularly with white armour.  Oh well - you have to practise to improve, right? Besides, as a group, it turned out OK.

For the Emperor...no, what? Sorry - I meant, for Horus!!
This squad brings my current World Eaters force to 39 troops - hardly apocalypse-worthy, and not quite ready for prime time.  They will need a dreadnought or two, and some vehicles.  I am going to add more infantry, at least one assault squad, I think, and maybe some more devastator-type troops.  In the interim, this might do OK for a Rogue Trader game at some point, just to get the minis "blooded" on the table.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Infinity - Panoceania test figures

Just a quick post with some test paint jobs on some figures...

Fresh back from GenCon and a family road trip at the end of Aug I was jonesing to paint something, having not touched a brush in about 4 weeks! Worse yet, several days of that time I got to see all the amazing work of the pro-painters at GenCon and got to pick up the brand new Infinity - Operation: Icestorm box set.  So, back in town and needing to do something, I pulled out some of the figures from the box this weekend to do some test colour schemes and paint jobs.

These are the Panoceania Fusiliers that come in the box, which are new upgraded sculpts from the old ones.

As with almost all Corvis Belli sculpts they are extremely clean (almost no mold lines) and fit together almost perfectly without cleaning or filing! 

Having had a chance to watch their studio painter and talk with him a bit at the show, I decided to give some of his airbrush techniques a try on the armor.  While it turned out OK, the shading is way too subtle the way I did it.  Turns out I was worried about being too dramatic and instead went to soft.  Oh well, I know better for next time. 


I am still pretty happy with how they turned out.  Other than potentially the Faces, which I need to bug Dave or Jim to give me some lessons on skin tone to clean them up.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Star Wars Battle Report - Escape from Cloud City!

A couple weeks ago I ran a game of Star Wars Miniature Battles using a scenario from the "Ultimate Missions" scenario book. The game was part of a campaign based on Cloud City from The Empire Strikes Back. In the game the Rebels (Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and Lando) had to rescue Han Solo before Boba Fett could escape in Slave I, while Luke faced Darth Vader in personal combat in the freezing chamber.

I set up the terrain using some Death Star walls I had done up before, with random detritus and crates scattered about (these Force users have to have something to throw around at each other). I used doors from the excellent new Sedition Wars terrain set and a "Freeze Chamber" tile from the old GW Space Hulk game. Slave I was represented by the Revell model kit, along with a cool "Han in Carbonite" from the same kit. The figures are mostly SWMB prepaints, with Luke in Bespin Fatigues and Leia in Bespin Outfit painted by me - they're figures from the old "true 25mm" Grenadier/West End Games Star Wars range.

Luke and Darth swing their lightsabers around as an Imperial squad heads toward the real action.
 
Fett and his Bespin Guard flunkies push frozen Han towards the docked ship. Stormtroopers take aim at the Rebels just out of shot.

Slave I awaits, fuelled and ready to go.

Luke confronts Vader in the carbon freeze chamber.

Vader leaps across the chamber and attacks...

Meanwhile the fight is not going great for the Rebels. Leia's down and Fett's flunkies are halfway to the ship by now. The notoriously under-pointed Boba Fett takes the fight to the Rebels...

 
Back in the carbon freezing room, Vader has force-pushed Luke into the chamber. The scenario rules state that if there's a Rebel character in the freeze chamber and the only other characters in the room are Imperials, the Imperial activation can be used to "freeze" the Rebel character. "Too easy!" says Vader... as long as he activates on his next turn before Luke, the hapless farmboy will be a meat popsicle on his way to the Emperor faster than you can say "utini"!

But the farmboy has advanced further in his Jedi training than the Sith Lord suspected! Luke won the die roll for initiative and activated before Vader, using his last Force Point to Force Leap out of the chamber!

Sadly it was all in vain as the merciless Dark Lord of the Sith overpowered the nascent Jedi, defeating him handily.

Screaming for vengeance after the Princess was defeated, Chewie charges in on Fett...

...only to be shot down by the coldhearted bounty hunter!

Result: Imperial victory. The Rebels failed to free Solo and Luke was defeated by Vader. Even though Fett escaped with Solo, he didn't stop both the Rebels and Imperials from fulfilling their victory conditions, which was the only way the Fringe faction could win.

This was a fun game and very cinematic (especially the Luke vs Vader duel) but it wasn't really close in terms of victory. This is the fourth or fifth game we've played from the Ultimate Missions book and they've all seemed quite unbalanced - I wonder if they were playtested?? This game would've benefitted from one squad less for the Imperials and some different deployment. Admittedly the latter was kind of down to me as I set up "3D" terrain rather than use the supplied maps, but to me the aesthetic is pretty important. Anyway, we may play the next scenario (Rebel Escape/Luke vs Vader Part II) but if we do, I'll more carefully consider the opposing forces as well as the setup.