Friday, July 29, 2016

First Tabletop Game in Our House: Flames of War

My Panzer IV tanks.

       Even though it took a couple of days, I was able to play my first wargame at our new house. Kalissa and I had been living in a one- bedroom apartment for a while and felt the need to upgrade. This was not really a new decision in life. It just happen that we kept having near misses with houses. We would find one house that was a good deal, and some other family would have placed an offer on the same day. It really was quite annoying, However, as luck would have it, we were victorious on our venture to finding a nice home. And one of it's key features is a rather large dedicated gaming room. So, of course, we are going to take it for a test spin!
      I ended up inviting our friend, Joe over for a game of Flames of War. Other than playing, there were a couple of reasons. One, it was easy to set up. Two, Joe has a few army options. And the third was that Kalissa and I started this hobby of ours through Flames of War. I figured for a new place, we should start playing some old classics. After all, we both have about nine different companies to run.
      Now, as a standing tradition, Joe and I have been about tied in wargaming wins. We seemed to always have violent games that go one way or the other. In this case, I just had some terrible rolling. But in my defense, I honestly cannot blame my esteemed opponent, Joe has always had that knack for declaring my roll of "ones" in advance. It would be as if the dice were taking his commands. Also, I did do some rather silly mistakes like forgetting to strip "Gone to Ground" with my recce 250/9's, and left my Panzer IV H's in the open to be ambushed by a bunch of 57 mm AT guns. What can I say? I really was not thinking, because I was just happy to play inside my own home! Below are images of the game. Enjoy!

One view of the table.

Another view of the table. Most of this terrain is my order stuff from four years ago. I will probably update this.

Recce charging up the road to the American infantry.

Starting armor positions.

No recce ahead of these made it a rough time, especially after the ambush and air attack.

57 mm AT guns defend a hedge.

The Recce patrol tries to dig out the American infantry. They just moon us back!

Some German death!


Artillery screw up the Panzergrenadiers really bad.

I was able to win an assault with the Panthers.

Just bad!

When assaults go wrong.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Aliens Vs. Predator Thoughts

      It did not take long for me to break out the paint to play Aliens Vs. Predator, a game by Prodos Games. I had been looking forward to getting this game for a while. I was hoping to pick it up in an awesome deal on eBay. I did try, but we still did well for it. Either way, we got the game, and I was all too happy to paint the miniatures.
   It is not a surprise to be enthusiastic over this game. I have always liked both Aliens and Predator as a series. I watched Aliens for the first time when I was five. Same was probably true for Predator. I loved various games they have produced for the different video game systems. I would even venture to say I liked the Alien Vs. Predator movies, though, they could have been way better. Hopefully, the new Alien movie for 2017 will turn out good. I also painted my first miniatures that were Aliens made by Leading Edge Miniatures. I still look for the originals from time to time, because for all who know me, I am still a metal miniatures snob.
    Anyway, the Aliens Vs. Predator was funded through Kickstarter. And as I can tell, plenty of other games will still continue to do so as long as they make right with their promises. I mention this based on one thing that I have heard from several people about this game in particular. Rumors as you might say, so research this. I have been told from several people that the Kickstarter for this game has not full-filled all of the backers despite being available to retail. For me, this is a shame for Kickstarter and the manufacturer, but I am aware that worse could happen, such as the game we backed up one year that never produced the game or gave our money back.
    On to the review that matters, playing the game. Some friends of ours joined us at the kitchen table to play Aliens vs. Predator. The game is fairly heavy. When I first picked up the box, I thought everything might be metal. It is mainly the weight of all of the cut-out cardboard pieces for the board. It is set up like a puzzle with two sides on each. Some were dark with green lighting and the other was in red. There were cardboard pieces for objectives, pieces called "Pings", and acid markers. There were 5 Marines, 3 Predators, and 15 Aliens. All three factions have three different play styles as well as abilities. I would say that playing this game would be quick and painless, however, it is more complex that your average board game. What I mean is that you really have to read through the game to grasp the game play. They have a simple flow chart on how things move through sequence, but there are many factors that can be effected by this. Mainly, unclear rules and the cards. There are certain rules that are just written bad or hard to understand. At first, you may think that it is just a gamer error, but they are updating new rules for this game online to address these problems. There are cards you can have per turn: Five from a deck per faction that allow you to modify the rules or certain capabilities of a model per turn. Then, there are environment cards that change the conditions of the game per turn. So for first time players, it took us an hour to figure out one turn!
   However, on the plus side, the complex rules are actually good for the real direction of the game. It is set up like a campaigning system. There are even more complex rules you can use to build on characters. A good comparison game I would say would be Fantasy Game's Star Wars: Imperial Assault. The difference would be that Star Wars campaigns, you can kill Imperials, but they reinforce again. I do not think it would be the same for Aliens Vs. Predator, since the Predators in particular are pretty bad ass.
   Our game turn out to be pretty good. After our grasp of the game was gained, the turns moved much quicker. That and the violence increased. Other than some rather nagging questions, I lost 13 aliens just to kill one Predator. We were talking amongst ourselves that if my rolls on the D20 dice were in a D&D game, I would have been doing awesome, but rolling high is bad in this game. My wife, Kalissa lost everyone, but her Medic in the first attack. We are still not sure it that read right, and we feel that the Medic should have been able to do something about it. Again, there was an unclear rule about medics and their saving abilities. But this did not prevent her from killing a predator and three of my aliens!
Alien Vs. Predator melee.

With the need for violence, the Predator Clan open the door without any fear to attack the Aliens
The board for this mission.
  Overview, we will still play this game. Kalissa and I might just have to run through a full campaign. Also, I would like to get some other miniatures for this game in Aliens and Predators. I will also be replacing the Marines with some Hassle Free Miniatures, since there is a different story I would like to make and campaign about. Kalissa mentioned that she recently bought some resin Alien eggs, so we will see what direction we will run with this game.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Our Convention Game at Historicon 2016

       Since the first convention game we played at Siege of Augusta, I have been hooked on the fun of running a game. There is something that is awesome about showing off a game that you love as well as watching other people get inspired by the game that you play. I think that all of us wargamers have that one memory of that awesome game where you charged and killed off the opponent against impossible odds, or you just had a great time. These are the things we look forward to, so why not model it up as well.
      The first Historicon I ran a game was last year's with a Bolt Action WW2 game based on Hell's Highway during Operation Market Garden. We had fun, but someone at the convention liked everything, but my trees. I had the same thought myself, so I went on a mission to build even more realistic terrain for our troops. Thus was the birth of this last Historicon's project.
       About the game, this was a four part game using Bolt Action rules with some modifications. The game was about taking various objectives across the board. The board was designed 6' x 15' using Fur terrain. The projected time frame for this game was about 6 months. I decided in December I wanted to run more than one game. For one, the first Historicon game I ran did not get that much attention. I felt that people might not have been as interested in our game, because I was relatively unknown. I honestly, did not start really posting stuff until I started this blog. I still mainly post in various Facebook Groups of similar interest. Also, I want to do a continuation game much like I saw one member of the H.A.W.K.s (Harford Area Weekly Kreigspielers) ran. I played on the first of the three games, and enjoyed the game. I just cannot remember what rules he was using.
     I decided to stick with the Bolt Action rules for the game mainly, because the rules were still popular and Kalissa and I knew the rules really well. Also, it was easy to modify for our needs without changing too much. We changed few things that were mainly for smoothing game play. we decided to take the Iron Cross rules concept of running multiple orders for units instead of limited units in movement. This would ensure that the troops could cross the distance of the whole board if needed in all three games. We also had to tone some things down. We got rid of the recce escape whenever fired at rule. It was currently hated in the game, and is going to be changed, in fact, in Warlord's 2nd addition of the game. This was confirmed by them at Historicon. We also gave the Nebelwerfers more killing range, but it would take three orders to reload. We, also, added command for extra actions for troops in line of sight. This gave an extra flare to the game. It is not that Bolt Action is a bad rules set. These changes were needed to get troops on the move for some serious action.
There was some serious violence across this section of the board through the field to the church.
        So how did the games fair? There was a lot of action to remember. It is easier to break it down by the games themselves. Since this was a continuation game, it was interesting to see what caring decisions were done for the people in the next game. The troops might have been killed, but they came back the next turn as reinforcements at certain locations, depending on what objectives have been captured and were the forward HQ was established.
        Game One: The Americans started the game in the far right hand corner of their side of the board. To the left was a small farm that opened up dirt road for reinforcements and flank point, as well, as it could be established as a forward HQ. The Germans had drop off points to start in key areas. They were allowed to deploy eight inches around these points. There were nine of these. The only units the Germans could not deploy were the 88 Flak 36 gun guard the long stretch of the road directly leading in town, and the two Nebelwerfers that were in town in someone backyard. The Nebelwerfers had a two-man spotting team in the church steeple that commanded most of the ground on the hill. The Americans only got to start with Airborne troops with bazookas, snipers, a medium mortar, and 57 mm AT gun as support. The beginning of the game also had "night rules" in the first turn change to regular light, but overcast.
   Knowing that the Americans had to capture six objectives and a HQ in town, I did not expect one of the German players to stack a two squads and a Stug III at the first small farm house. This proved to be very decisive delay for the American forces who were held up with an occupied farm. They manage to take the larger farm in front off them and made it their forward HQ. The small farm fell, but after heavy casualties.
The Nebelwefer 41's in town.
The Airborne head right to take the small farm. The road was were they came in from.

The Airborne commander made the larger farm a forward HQ after taking it. There were no Germans defending this other than mortar fire and German grenadiers in the next hedgerow to the left of this picture.
       Game Two: This game saw some major actions. For one, the Americans gained the upper hand with an extra infantry company with armor support of six Sherman tanks and a medium mortar half-track. The second thing that came to play were the effective rolls of the German batteries. The player (Alexander, I believe) was a master at rolling sixes throughout the game. The Nebelwerfers were doing their job at disrupting the American advance. In this game, the church gained priority over other objectives. The fear on well placed PaK 40 guns gave way to caution. This was a field problem for the Americans who needed to push forward to take out the AT guns. The Nebelwerfers were just hitting too well to get that job done. We did not change the hitting power of the Nebelwerfers, because you always need a six. Who knew that there would be a player who rolls like that in every strike!
     The toll on the German infantry was also hampered by mortar fire. Since, they started Game 2 spread out, there was not a large force to push back the American force. The Germans also lost their spotters in the church as well as a Pak 40. The church would fall to the Americans by the beginning of next game.

Germans holding the threatening church.

Given a 12 foot range, the Nebelwerfers were even hammering the forward HQ in the farm!

There was a good reason for caution from the American armor. A Stug III was stalking them. It gained their respect in a long range shot at 71 inches killing a Sherman on the road. At this point, there was still no need for the 88 Flak Gun to shoot. These were mainly it's victims!

A picture of the Stug III. It is hard to tell in this picture, but there is a knoll blocking the Shermans LOS. That and the low profile.

The Germans losing to the 82nd airborne. The Steeple is on fire from a Sherman HE shell.

The Stug III ace!

One of the evil Nerferwerfers. These killed about 15 full squads other than countless others.
     Game 3: In this game on the next day, the Germans hit back with a counterattack with more Fallschrimjager and some SS units. They also bought with them three Panther tanks. In a sense, I felt like the game was going fairly well, since the Germans forgot to bring the third Panther tank on. It showed great confidence with the Germans. Also, the Americans recovered and fixed the Sherman tanks for another armored assault. The Americans also captured the church gaining the high ground and a view overlooking the town. The Germans hit hard, but seemed to be hindered on bad rolls. That wasn't to say they did badly. Though, some previous German players were sad to see the Stug III that did so well was diced by a Pak 40 gun the U.S. Airborne captured. The Americans also used smoke from the mortar half-track to block the 88 Flak which took out one of the Sherman tanks with massive damage. The infantry were able to advance a take the crossroads in front of the church. Also, the Germans lost a Panther due to some seriously committed infantry killing it in an assault. The Germans only response was to built a major line of defense on a long hedgerow, using a Panther with a Pak 40 to block the church road on the hill. They also sent in the Waffen SS units to counterattack the church!

The sad death of a Stug III.

A Sherman is on the move to the battle at hand.
The Germans set up their defensive line, while other units delay the Americans.
Violence on the knoll.
American infantry take another crossroad. 
A Sherman hides behind the recent victim of an 88 round as the mortar half track lays down smoke rounds.
Americans take fire from a 222 armored car after taking down a Panther tank.
German counter attack towards the church.
      Game 4: The skies cleared making way for the air force that was never called. That is correct! There could have been multiple air strikes, and the American side forgot about them. The same went for the Germans, they could have brought on another Panther tank and a Stug III. It was good to see people so involved to forget such things. The Germans held a strong line. The Americans were in a bind. There was not a real good chance to break through and take the town. On the positive side, the Nebelwerfers stopped their violence. After quite a few awesome targets, they just did not hit. However, the Americans were still cautious, despite having the numbers to take the main road. The Shermans and the AT guns had a gun duel with the one Panther tank in the road to no effect. Sherman after Sherman  burned. Other Sherman tanks tried their luck against the 88. The Waffen SS tried to take back the church resulting in hand to hand combat. In an attempt to take a side shot at a Sherman tank, the lone Panther pulled out forgetting the 57 mm AT which turned it into a wreak with a luck shot!
    In the end, the Americans won by the most objectives! But most importantly, everyone had fun! Mission accomplished!

Chaos around the church.

After taking a Sherman out, the Panther tank tried to hide behind the burning Sherman tank from a captured Pak 40. The commander forgot about the 57 mm AT gun in the bushes in front, which got a luck shot at close range!

Burning armor from the one Panther tank.

Before it died in the open, the Panther tank ran the battlefield. If it was knocked out here, the Americans would not be able to drive armor through this way.

German counter attack through a wheat field.

This was the second time the Pak 40 was re-manned this game, even though, it was rated as Inexperienced.

These are two awards I won. One was for the first game on Friday. The second was for the first game on Saturday. I heard a lot of people saying that I should have won "Best of Show." Honestly, I was cool enough to run it, let alone, win two awards. I was just happy to inspire!