Tuesday, April 25, 2017

AAR: Bolt Action: Sicilian Slugfest (Part One)


       There is nothing better than meeting new people for wargaming, especially when they are fun players. That does not mean that most people in our hobby do not want to have fun in a game. Well, there might be a few out there to hurt people in games. I have seen that! I just try not let people like that bother me too much. Besides, we all could be doing something else that is boring.
    Anyway, this was  the beginning of my first game with a new Fayetteville resident, Andrew. He contacted us looking for a game of Bolt Action. Of course, I am willing to play new players in a game I love! So we invited him over. Some people tend to be wary with meeting people, and in that matter, meeting people at their home for the first time. If anything I can say about knowledge that my father passed down is the fact I tend to read people rather well. It might have been a management thing back in the day. It is just like understanding that people can be visual or just told to do stuff to get a job done. Everyone works differently in their mindset. I digress!
      So after meeting up and getting to know each other, Andrew and I starting to play a "Maximum Attrition Mission, since it was a meet engagement. Kind of a running joke, since we just met. Ha, Ha, Ha! Never underestimate the Power of the Dorkside!  I set up a Sicily themed board with the British versus the Germans. I let him pick forces, though he gave me the preference. I went with my trusty Germans. Trusty is really a loose term here.
     We made it through half of the game, so far. We stopped at the end of turn Three based on life events: Kids, wives, wives with knives, and such. Hopefully, the conclusion will happen. All I know is that so far, we were having fun! Below are the pictures as usual. Enjoy!
 






















Monday, April 24, 2017

AAR: Flames of War: Playing Out a Full Game of 4th Edition.


        As a review earlier stated, I am not much of a fan of the new 4th Edition Flames of War rules. However, this is not stopping my wife and I from playing it. After all, I find that to really address the various issues with rule changes is to play them out. So Kalissa and I dusted off some of our miniatures to play out a game. In this case, I ran a Panzer Company from a list that is probably a Version 2 list and Kalissa ran her 4th Canadian Armor. We played the "Annihilation Mission", because that is what the new rule book said to do. So like little lemmings, we dove off a cliff into this second game!
    In the early statements in the previous Flames of War post, I mentioned that the company (now Formation) lost their play style based on how you decide who attacks, such as, Tanks always attack! Apparently, they have three was to decide. Rolling, wanting to attack, or who ever has more infantry units is defending. That has the potential for starting a fight before the game is even played! My wife and I just decided to roll off. And with that, the Germans would be defending.
   The first turn was rather a long one, since we had to stop multiple times to answer important questions. My wife, Kalissa really has to read rules for herself to understand them. After all, she is a teacher and there is a reason I am not.  Recce seemed to be screwed fairly bad. Also, the complex movement issues had to be addressed. Mainly, these questions were truly figuring out the real order between movement and movement orders. Once we understood what we were doing, the rest of the turns went faster. This is especially true when your wife is very bold and terrain dashed almost point blank with Stuarts behind my lines! I had to kill them with my 8.8 cm Flak Guns and one 2 cm AA truck. My Germans did not have very much of a reason to move. The only movement I had was through the woods, which are now "Skill Checks" to move through. This sounds terrible, but the rules had eliminated "Bogged Down." If you fail your trek through the woods, it just means I halt in place. This is a rule I can stand by! This way, those pesky infantry forces cannot outright kill me when I fail all of the checks in the woods or other terrain types that require so.
    The Canadians came at me from across the fields. The Common Wealth Forces lost a lot of special rules, but they did not lose their "Semi Indirect" rule. Kalissa, also. tried to use most of the Movement Order types to test their abilities. She tended to pass most of these orders, but her dice were not doing her shots justice. The picking target rule that was said in the book that stated it would rarely be used was used more than 50% of the game. Most of these targets were deterred by the "Mistake Target: rule where Kalissa rolled a 3+. This saved her Sherman Fireflies multiple times to stay in the fight. The Fireflies seemed to be the last tank in the platoon before they were killed off.
    A Good portion of the Canadian tanks were left in ruin. She managed to kill off my 88's, my King Tiger, my IC Panther, and one Panzer IV H. This did not put me anywhere near a company check, since Division Support does not count against your Formation's "Good Spirits."(Guess we should be drinking during this game!) This lack of platoons counting in a game was what resulted in the Canadians loss, because several of her formations did not count. I am kind of annoyed by this for the throw away factor. I don't have to care for this troops, because they do not help for morale purposes. It is really strange.
     Either way, the game was not too bad. If anything, we found several things in these newer rules that are guaranteed to start wargaming arguments based on wording. I am sure there will be an errata for this in the near future. Anyway, below are some the shot to our game. It seems that half got deleted in the middle of uploading. It happens!

   




















Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sicily Project: Shermans, Shermans, and More Shermans!


    I recently got around to building the Sherman tanks for the 1st Canadian's Three River Regiment. This is great for the progress of my project for Historicon 2017. We got them discounted from Trenchworx Wargaming Models & Accessories to support our game. Kalissa and I will be advertising about their support along Blitzkrieg Miniatures and Charlie Foxtrot Models that is making this game come true. After all, it is already in the pipeline for the PEL for Historicon. We almost missed the deadline, since we noticed it the day of. Since our game is going to be mainly a tank battle in somewhat open terrain, I decided to run the games as individual scenario games instead of a continuing game like last year. Last year's game was a four part game based on the amount of terrain on the table: mainly, hedgerows and farmlands. It is not to say that there will be no cover for our game, but I imagine it will play out a little faster. The make up of forces should be for the Germans: four Panzer IV G's, four Panzer III J's, two 8.8 Flak 36 AT/AA guns, and supporting infantry. The Canadians are going to have  fourteen Sherman tanks, a Dingo scout car, some Universal Carriers, and a company of infantry. It is not exactly balanced, but it is historical. I will mostly likely base victory conditions on kills and statistics in comparison to what actually happened.
      In either case, there was a month and a week long wait for Trenchworx's shipment to us. It has a funny story to it. In most cases, I do not worry about month long deliveries, since I get quite a few figures and other things from the far reaches of the globe. My patience tolerates German mail to the U.S., so a month is nothing normally. In this case, I was concerned when your order is coming from your own country. Apparently, the shipping department got word of our order for Historicon. They thought they were going to deliver the models at the show. Our contact/maybe owner had to ask: "How are they going to have it ready for a convention game at the show if they don't have the models before it?" Needless to say, that they were shipped with no problem. These are one of many reasons why we plan convention games out seven to eight months in advance. The fun hic-ups in the process. The real time in the U.S. is about five business days at most. Either way, they are on dangerously good terms with me. Their models are awesome! Here are the pictures of the Squadron short of a few tanks.


     There is simply no way that you cannot review these kits in a positive manner! I am a big fan of resin over plastics. I like the weight and the fact they survive my storage manners. It is the one thing I am terrible at as a wargamer. I am not a good with storage. I need a "Go Fund Me" page just for storage carriers! The Trenchworx guys are one the ball with crisp clean resin casts. There are barely any trimming needing to be done, unless you are a perfectionist for something 95% of people will not notice.
  There directions are crystal clear. I am not sure why they gave me directions times 14 when they were all the same model. This could have been in case they are being sold buy another company outlet or being donated to multiple parties. Again, the models are simple. There is not much to worry about in the building process. Using Loctite Control Gel for mainly metal, I glued these all together in about twenty minutes! If it was not for the rain, I would have had them primed as well in another ten. Here is one of the direction sheets that they gave me.

         As you can see, the design was also very simple. Based on the simplistic nature of these models, the only thing they have in comparison to them are the Blitzkrieg Miniatures. However, both have the Shermans, but do not share much of the other models. To be honest, I really wanted to get some Trenchworx Models! They have some other stuff I would like to order that Blitzkrieg does not. However, Blitzkrieg has some things I also want from them! Example: Panzer IV G's are were not on the list of Trenchworx at the time, where as, Blitzkrieg has them and 8.8cm Flak 36 Guns.
    But as a fairness in a review, the Trenchworx's Models do have some slight issues. For one, they have two separate hatches for the top of the turret. This does give you an option of a buttoned down or opened option. If you go with a unbuttoned tank, there is no model for the commander. Also, they follow into the same complain I have with other miniature tank models: they do not make a sold fill-in piece. Sure, you can have a full enclosed hatch, but the open space that is cut out in the turret causes warped hatch closures. You can see it on the turret of the model below with some of the hinges sticking out. I had to mash some of this in to set them slightly flush. This is the only complaint, but not worthy of not buying.

      As you can see, it fits nicely together. There was minor trimming of the cast. Most of this was on the metal pieces in little strips. The model does come with Browning .50 Cal machine guns for the turret, but I did not place them on, since these are going to be Canadian. They were supplied mainly by the British and did not commonly receive them. However, the great thing about them is that they are white metal and can be used on other projects, such as half-tracks.

    Apart  from the great review, I do have some problems with my historical accuracy of my Historicon game. I picked the wrong Sherman tanks for the regiment. I did a lot of research for figure out the odds and ends of my historical wargame. However, in one drunken night, I decided to really dig deep into research. So much was this task, that I found actual photos of the Three Rivers Regiment in action in Sicily! Instead of the M4A1 Shermans I bought, they were Sherman M4A4's! Of course, I could not find this information sober when I really looked for it! This seemed to be the same for my A+ paper I wrote for the burning of Columbia, South Carolina by Sherman during the American Civil War. I researched that paper on Jack Daniels in college to the point of finding out the weather reports of what transpired! I got a minor in Southern history in this last class. I am sure that no one, but myself will care. To most people, a Sherman tank is a Sherman tank. Also, both versions were in combat during this campaign. If all else fails, they can be repainted for Kasserine Pass!
 Here are some other historical photos.



Flames of War Late War 4th Edition and Thoughts.


     There has been much discussion about the new Flames of War 4th Edition that has recently come out. The waves it has made in the wargaming community have been mixed to say the least. Since the first game in the desert that our gaming group was reviewing, I decided to see how I would feel about it in my first game. I cannot say it is going to be very positive, but will try to weight it out in categories: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Only we will not have Clint Eastwood chiming in!
    The game we play tested were a German Panzer Company (Formation) versus a British Infantry Company (Formation). Now, playing this game, I had no intentions on winning. I have not won a game of Flames of War against my opponent, Hugh ever! We do not play against each other enough to make it a goal of mine. Hugh had picked the forces in advance, because anyone one who has seen my terrible rolling knows that I would never take Reluctant anything, especially, Reluctant Veteran Germans. These were against Confident Veteran British in the most defensible board ever for infantry. I somehow had forgot to take a photo of the whole board while over at his house. Rivers, hedgerows, a large village, woods, and wheat fields covered a good 80%. So with all of this failure potential stacked against me, you could say that things could have influence my opinion. However, this is not the case, because it was good for testing out multiple situations that we're uncomfortable to find ourselves in from previous Editions for Flames of War. I even took the liberty of using my most unlucky dice, my Flames of War 9th SS Hohenstaufen dice! Somehow, they rolled 50% better than all the other games they were used in. It must be because they were rolled for the first time, since 2011! Let us press on to the game!
   We ended up playing the Rearguard mission which is pretty much the replacement to Fighting Withdraw. The difference was that there were now only two objectives, instead of three, and they all stayed on the table. This does not warrant spread out forces or causing much thinking for the placement of the defender's forces. Also, for every 750 points, the defender gets a free minefield. This is clearly a ploy for Battlefront to push minefields sales. I imagine they will lower the minefield points when they reissue the Late War and Early books, since the Desert Mid-war books have lower points. Despite all of the terrain, you cross linear terrain and similar types on a skill test. I failed this with my Tigers that never really saw action. I went through the minefield on one side of the river and assaulted. I only killed two stands of infantry. I lost most of the tanks in other assaults due to defensive fire and such. The surprise is that if you are stopped in an assault in defensive fire, you are bailed out of range of the assault, so you don't outright lose them. We had some Typhoons attack my AA armor just to see what would happen. I was able to shoot down one plane. A good change is that the shot down one can not come back any other turn. Otherwise, this was similar to a normal game, but longer and choppy. After this game and much discussion, the following below are my thoughts on 4th Edition.  

    After playing Flames of War since the 2nd and 3rd Editions, it is hard for me to start with the Good part of playing 4th Edition, so we are skipping to the Bad. One bad part of the new changes with Flames of War are the terms. Right off the bat, the writers decided to change a whole bunch of common terms. Platoons are now Formations. Morale Test is a Last Stand.  Good Spirits take over for check morale. These seem like silly complaints, but it makes it a little confusing for veteran players. If you were new to the game, this would not affect you. They also renamed missions. Even if they had changes to them, there was no reason to rename them.
    Another thing that seems a bit harder to wrap around are the movements. Blitz Moves, Tactical, Terrain Dash, and Shoot and Scoot. I am sure that this is not as bad as it seems, but it now requires extra rolling. I can see how this will end up adding more marker types to the board to keep track of things. Terrain Dash is suppose to take over for Double Timing in the previous additions, but without the doubled distance. So I can see why it is not called Double timing. Plus, to top all of this, you have a different movement rating if you are not in command distance, which is now based on the commanders location versus the chain linked distance between models. This makes it less flexible to spread out. So we went for two types of moves to four! There does not seem to be a reason for this, since I thought the point of 4th Edition was to streamline some rules.
    On a positive light, let us look at the Good. There are several things going well for 4th Edition. One, it is relatively similar to Team Yankee for an easier transition from Modern Warfare to WWII. After all, Team Yankee has a younger customer base, so it does seem logical to interest them into other theaters and eras. Two, they break up static forces from previous editions by making you roll for who is attacking, so you don't look at a force and think I am automatically screwed. This has a double edged sword attached to it! It eliminates some of the redundant stands of infantry like command teams, staff teams, and others that we find we might have forgotten to bring. I forget to bring spotters all of the time. When you play with planes, you get the amount you pay for. No longer are there this amount of points equal one plane once on a turn. If you pay for three planes, three of them show up when they arrive. Planes can be shot down permanently! And they did give out the rules for free and share changes in Late and Early War books that would have been strait out obsolete otherwise. So all of the theater books we have in these periods are good to go with the exception of other Mid-War periods.

    *This part of the review is relates to anyone who played other editions. If you are a new player, it is not necessary to read on.*   

      And now to the Ugly part of this review!  If you liked anything about your lists in previous versions that you built to be your "go to" force, there is a 95% chance that army is screwed over. So many of the special rules were thrown out! I understand that some things were going to change, but this was a huge "screw you!" to all of the veteran players who spent the time and money to create lists. This is whether it was for fun or for competition. And to top this, the other side of the sword comes out: they got rid of the tactical part of composing your force. Tank companies mostly attacked. Mechanized forces tended to attack or defend. Infantry mainly defended. It was a simple concept that holds true to most combat situations in reality. There were different forces you could make that changed this! Otherwise, you, as a player, had a generalized idea what your force could do and most likely what the chances were that they would be doing a certain job. This came down to your play style. But now, with the roll of a die, that is screwed over! How many times do you remember infantry attacking a Panzer force other than an "Always attack" one or the British infantry calling "night"? Now, this will happen more frequently, thus making some out our models now useless.
    Another thing that bothers me are in the shooting step of sniping certain units. You can choose a target to hit first before it is evenly allocated. This can be stopped by the opponent rolling a 3+ to change targets using the "Mistaken Target" rule. This will just slow the game down more to me just like the ability to roll a 7 or 8 on a D6 as a re-roll after a 6 for hitting. Another rules set, Bolt Action, solved this targeting problem with a simple solution of "If you roll a 6, and then, roll another 6, you can choose you target. That could have been simply done. Besides, the opponent still gets a save. And who in their right mind is not going to pick up a Bazooka if a tank is trying to kill you. The previous versions thought this out that someone somewhere was going to try to pick up an AT weapon in the platoon after those guys were dead. The same goes for the player shooting. Of course, they are going to fire at the most potential threat! This is going to result in game micro-managing, even the rule book states that these rules will not be used as often. There must not be smart wargamers? Sure, there were slow lags in the older editions, but this is hardly a way to fix them.
    A big wave in the 4th Edition are the introduction to cards. I cannot say that this is entirely bad. There are great games out there that use cards for all aspects of the game. However, I can see how people can get upset easily over this. Now, there are surprises! The negative way I look at it is by an example of the game of Chess. In College, my friend, Berto used to play me in Chess and beat me in 5 minutes on average. He was a speed chess champion of South Carolina one year. He would tell before the game started where I would be checked, how many moves it would take, and where I would end. This only changed if I did something stupid on purpose to prove him wrong. So on his birthday, I bought him a deck of cards called "Nightmare Chess." You could change the rules and results of a normal game when it was your turn. The results were that I still lost, but it now took an average of three hours to do so! The point being is this idea seems to penalize someone's skill with a card that should have just been a luck of the die. There are a bunch of card driven systems that work great. Most games are either all cards or all dice. If a company has to add cards to change up game play to a system that never had them before, the company screwed something up.
      Over all, it is a shame that 4th Edition has changed so much from 3rd Edition. It seems like every rule had to be messed with, which is a little much in comparison to the other transitions of editions. I understand that Battlefront is trying to revive sales, but it seems like they ignored the veterans of their games. The argument can be made that the older players have already invested all of their money they planned to spending on their models and that the younger wargamers are the main attraction. Sure, on paper, this always looks nice. However, the counter to that thought is that the veteran players are the ambassadors of the hobby. If you convince them to stop playing your game, your game is not going to get promoted positively. And further more, there are going to be a lot of people selling their models like my wife and I are doing for a friend of ours. He had about $4,000 dollars worth, which is $4,000 Battlefront might not be getting, thus cutting into later profits. It is just a thought.
   In conclusion, I am not completely writing off Flames of War. I just do not feel that it has not peaked my interest as the other two editions. Maybe, it will grow on me.