Monday, November 24, 2014

A Tour of the Trenches - 28mm Terrain Boards

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to win an auction for an 8x4 modular terrain board setup being sold by a Quebec gamer who was "getting out of" Great War gaming. Being as I'm currently on a Great War kick (who isn't) I found it too good a deal to pass up. I am extremely impressed with his work on the setup and I wanted to post a brief "tour" - although I am sure that regular readers will see them not-infrequently in future Fawcett battle reports!

One of the 2x2 boards represents a ruined and fortified church and outbuildings. The building bases are removable, and are all quite sturdy - the walls appear to be made of cast material, probably Hirst Arts or similar. The boards themselves are made of two 1" thick foam insulation boards glued together and based on MDF, with trenches and other features carved out. Sandbags and such are plaster.

Some amazing detail in the church building, including broken pieces of "stained glass" and the gold crucifix from the altar.

There are two straight-up "trench" boards, one with a gun position, here occupied by a German trench mortar crew. Lots of duckboards, reinforced walls, sandbags, craters, and resin water in the shell holes.

The boards butt up against each other pretty well in most places and they're somewhat modular - they can be arranged in different configurations as the trenches line up at the edges.

Barbed wire and blasted tree sections are from my own collection. I'm glad the boards didn't include wire as that would have made them nearly impossible to transport.

One of the boards incorporates a "sap" running forwards, with an island traverse position jutting out into no-man's-land.

View from NML back towards the church.

The NML board at left has a large ravine-like crater (left by a mine detonation perhaps?) that provides some cover.

One of the trench boards incorporates an area of high ground I like to call "the Pimple" :-) You can see the bunkers built into it.

View from behind the Pimple.

There are various dugout entrances spread around the trenches, including this one to the Pimple.

Amazingly, the top of the Pimple lifts off to reveal the bunker complex below. If I get really ambitious I may create an overlay for this section out of plasticard with terrain on it so the complex can be played as trenches, with the rectangular areas remaining as underground dugouts.

Shell holes and craters abound, many are flooded with water.

The trenches are quite realistic and irregular.

Some more of the church, as it's so impressive.

Tower is fortified with sandbags.

The view down the line. We've already played one 40K game on the terrain and it was amazing. Looking forward to much further amortization. Great job in building it, Daniel!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Hallowe'en Zombie Game Battle Report!

Sometimes it's fun to do club games themed around a particular holiday or time of year. Remembrance Day is a good example. This year Hallowe'en fell on Friday and the game on Thursday, so I teed up something appropriate... Urban Zombies!!

Each player took control of 5-8 models, each representing a different faction. US Army, Big Pharma Mercenaries, Management Suits, SWAT Team, Urban Street Gang, etc.   Several objective markers were scattered about the board, representing plague antidote vials, bags of cash, porno mags, etc. and grabbing one of these for your faction gained you a victory point.

There were a bunch of zombie spawning barrels scattered around, too. Zombies would spawn randomly each turn and move towards the closest humans. Zombie kills were tracked by faction and served as tiebreakers in the event of equal VPs scored.

The zombies are the "solanum" type described in World War Z and other genre sources. Basically they need to be shot/hit in the head to be sure of a kill. We use a modified version of GW's Lord of the Rings with some additions for how hard it is to kill zombies (basically either call a "headshot" at -1 to hit, or re-roll successful To Wound rolls) and for automatic weapons.

The Big Pharma Mercenaries spot zombies coming out of the Bank.

Getting closer!!

Here's the SWAT team getting up close and personal with a zombie horde.

Conscripts busily plotting their next moves. We used a card activation system; each player was assigned a playing card put into a deck, and when his card was drawn he took his turn to move or shoot.

Conscript Indo moving his Corporate Suits (Foundry models, below).

Conscript Jim ran the Urban Street Gang (Bobby Jackson's "Thugs" - awesome figures). He was pretty successful in picking up objective markers despite (or because of?) the short range of his gang's weapons.

Here they are sitting on objective #4.

Shotgun template!!!

Travolta lookalike surveys the situation.

Conscript Frederick ran the Mercenaries and they racked up an impressive bodycount.

After eliminating a score of zeds they aimed at a bigger prize - the Corporate Suits.

Conscript Dave had the US Army team that also stacked up zeds like cordwood.

I think the best part of the game was the amount of friendly kills Jim racked up with his homies. They didn't scruple in the slightest at shooting into melees between zombies and their own comrades and invariably, the bullets hit their buddies.

The final standings were as follows:

Dave: 2VP + 16 zombie kills
Jim: 2VP + 2 kills (+2 kills on his own men :-)
Mike: 1VP + 14 kills
Frederick: 0VP + 15 kills
Indo: 0VP + 1 kill (yay!!)

We didn't have any prizes per se but the lads polished off the best part of a box of 50 mini chocolate bars :-)  Each time we play this game we've had a good time. The learnings from this session were that "hits" on zombies that don't kill should knock them back. Cinematic and good for gameplay too. We'll do that next time for sure!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

British WW2 1st Airborne in 15mm

British Airborne platoon & support in 15mm for Chain of Command etc.
Here is a group of British WW2 paras from the 1st Airborne Division in 15mm.  The figures are all from Peter Pig, and they are based for individual skirmish games like Chain of Command, Bolt Action, etc.

"Should only be some light resistance...fellows on bicycles!"
Like so many gamers I enjoy the ill-fated Operation Market Garden as a scenario for WW2 gaming, but this is the first time I have painted my own figures for the setting.  I expect these fellows could participate in some D-day-themed games as well, although I must say I know little to nothing of their role in that massive operation (shameful ignorance) (update to my shameful ignorance - apparently a different Airborne Division was involved in Normandy, not the 1st - see comments below).

Rifle sections, supported by a Bren gun team
The heroic dash and stand at the bridge in Arnhem, and the grinding and futile wait for XXX Corps to arrive in Oosterbeek provide great scenario possibilities.  Dallas was kind enough to let me set one up a few weeks ago with his beautiful 28mm figure collection.  I know he purchased a 15mm SS platoon at some point last fall, so I'm hoping he may paint them up and set the stage for some 15mm games in the future too. 

The two hex bases have the senior leaders of the platoon - I really like how the senior NCO turned out...
There is a full platoon of three sections (well everything but a sniper) and a few extra goodies - another PIAT team and a Vickers machine-gun.

PIAT team on the right and a light mortar team on the left
The basic Vickers team pack from Peter Pig has a three-man crew, but I painted a few extra fellows with Sten guns to go along with them - in Chain of Command these weapons are often a five-man team. 
A Vickers MG team - that will keep Jerry ducking!

Another view of the Vickers team - I will probably have to re-base that near fellow now that I look at this photo...he's an NCO...
The senior officers of the platoon are on hex-shaped bases, while the other NCOs, section leaders etc are on square bases.  Everyone else gets a 20mm round base.  I considered a different shape base for the Sten gunners, but in the end my obtuse aesthetic gaming preferences could only accept so many different base shapes, so we'll just have to squint a bit :) That is the main weakness of skirmish gaming with figures of this size - those fellows with the Stens blend right it in - but I enjoy many other aspects of it a lot, so I'm sticking with it.

Extra PIAT team - such a bonkers weapon, but fun to use in games
Between the Bren guns and the extra senior officer in the platoon this force would actually be pretty nasty on the table in a Chain of Command game - hopefully we can try that out sometime and see for ourselves. 

Another view of the Bren section - two Bren gun teams, would be quite useful in Chain of Command
Painting the camouflage smocks of the paras was not particularly easy, and I can't describe my technique as much more than a few different browns, tans and greens, washed and re-highlighted, in a mushed pattern that on a 15mm size figure doesn't look too terrible.  I don't think I could manage these guys in a larger scale...

Bren section - two Bren teams - lots of firepower!
Once again, Peter Pig provides the best 15mm WW2 figures to be found, and some of the neatest figures generally.  Sometime I will add some more support for these fellows from Peter Pig's extensive WW2 range.