Wednesday, October 26, 2016

AAR: Bolt Action: Shermans In A Winter Wonderland!

      After all of the chaos in this month for my area and a large part of the Southeast of the U.S., the weather has kicked into full gear towards Autumn. It is one of the few things I like about hurricanes; when they hit, the next day is the prettiest day for Autumn weather. At least, this holds true for the Carolinas. However, there has not been the same amount of games like the previous months. For a while, I had be playing against my friend, Danny on Tuesdays. Due to weather and fallen trees, we had skipped a bunch. So this time, he wanted to play at his house, since he had finished up his snow table.
      Now, oddly enough, I never really played too many snow themed games. In most cases, I do not have that much interest in them, which can be looked at as a little strange. In all reality, I think that most historical wargaming tends to skip the winter like the plaque. I seem to only really see these winter wonderlands played during conventions and for a themed planned events or campaigns. Even, modelling seems to be lacking for winter games. And I think there are too reasons for this. One, it is harder to make winter boards impressive. Sure, it can be done, but the combination of tons of white comes across rather dull. Also, to really make things look right, you have to add snow to other terrain and have winter themed troops. That is fine, if you are modelling it for your own troops, but it is not common for other players. The second reason it is not as common is that there are a lot of rules and restrictions with snow themed boards. Both you and your opponent can agree to ignore this rules and restrictions, but that defeats the flavor of playing this scenario based seasons. And I guess this is probably why I have not made the great plunge into the snow board. However, Danny decided to make his own using similar techniques I do for my other boards. I think it did a pretty good job for his first board. However, getting killed on it was an whole different story!
    For the moment of all year, Danny has been rolling like a champ! And I mean this in a nice way, but other people would have been questioning his dice. I know the exact problem. He rolls in a dice box that is hexagon-shaped. It is not like it is an outlawed object in the gaming world. Hell, I roll better in it. But it is as disheartening as Bill's evil cardboard box lid! I can go on a whole tangent about dice, luck, and rolling surfaces that a few people have said that it is all in my mind.
  What was not in my mind was how quickly, Danny had dispatched my force in four turns. Now, to be fair, this was not exactly fair in points and value per unit. There were four squads of Airborne, with a 1st Lt, a medium mortar, and nine Sherman Tanks versus four squads of Fallschirmjager, a Panzershrek team, 1st Lt., two Pak40 AT Guns, a medium mortar, a squad of Kreigsmarines, three Panzer IV H's, and a Tiger I E tank. Now with six AT guns and everyone armed to the teeth with Panzerfausts, this was not that bad. What makes it bad were the Shermans D6 HE rounds and they are still good with AT. Round one, kill on Pak40, and a Panzer IV; no losses for the Americans.
     Turn Two: The rest of the Panzer IV's and the Pak40 with infantry having a bad day; one Sherman is killed by a Pak40, Mortar round hits and kills two men in a squad. Turn Three: Tiger is helplessly pinned to death. More German infantry die. German Mortar is taken out by the American one, Panzerfaust team flanks and dies after missing at point blank! Another German squad flanks and kills one Sherman and dies from an assault. Another German Squad assaults the American assaulting squad and prevails! Then, they are killed off! Another German squad is killed by tanks alone!
     Turn Three/Four: The Kriegmarines are sent in to do nothing, but die! The last squad of Fallshrimjaegers runs in an kills a tank, but not enough. The Tiger withdraws after have nine pins! The 1st Lt. says F this, and runs just for the sake of it! Danny was mad that the Tiger survived throughout the game, because of bad rolls. I had to remind him that is D6 hits were rolling 6 kills every time with the exception of two. I am sure that Version 2 might change some of these results.
 I have got a notification that it is in the mail! Maybe, we will test them out next week.

Danny's snow board.

American advance.

American Armor.

German lines. One Pak40 AT gun down.

Pinned Tiger on the get go!


First moves into town.
This Tiger I E did nothing the whole game!

Forrest fighting.

These Germans decided to hide.
The Kriegsmarines rush in!

Two tanks were pinned and another destroyed by Panzerfausts. The last one missed!

The Kriegsmarines manage to pin a tank before being vaporized!

Final push!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

AAR: Of Gods And Mortals: Ares Commands the Day.

     For many who read about After Action Reports, most of my games are War World II related. I assure you that we do not just sat focused on one period of history. In all honesty, I have been slack on quite a few things for wargaming. Between, Kalissa and I, we have lots of stuff that has yet to make it on the table top or at least, recently. The list is pretty extensive. We have stuff for Robin Hood, Ronin, Medieval knights, Furry armed animals, ninja rabbits, Muskets and Tomhawks, Of Her Majesty's Name, and random figures for a bunch of periods we have no bought into. In fact, the only reason I could really see winning the Lottery would be all wargaming related. Maybe, something else.
    Either way, I decided to challenge my wife to a duel of Of Gods and Mortals. I really like this game, because the rules are fairly simple and you get to play all of Mythology whether that is Norse Gods, Egyptian Gods, or Greek. There are really no limits to create lists based off of religion and legend. My wife has an Inca list she made with spitting lamas and condors. When I start on jungle terrain, we will have to look into that!
   The basic game is pretty simple. You have three types of units: A god, legends, and mortals. The god you pick is the most powerful unit and cannot truly die. If he/she is taken out of the game, the mortals, if still alive, can bring he/she back to the fight. Legends are the support units. I like to think of the as the special forces of the game. Each one of them have unique abilities. The mortals are the core units.
   The game flows very well. You have a quality rating that you have to roll for for actions. You can roll up to three D6 and use whatever passed as an action. However, any failed roll gives your opponent an action as long at it has the same quality or better. Two failures gives initiative to your opponent. Combat is resolved with a combat rating plus modifiers, any support, and special abilities. Both sides roll. The winner is decided on the higher number and about of difference, which can result in nothing to a kill for one side or the other. Again, really easy, and our games last about an hour.
     So for our game, it was Greek on Greek action. It was not porn, but you can get figures to make it seem so. In this case, it was Ares versus Athena. My wife had Ares with 10 hoplites divided in half, Medusa, Perseus, and the three-headed dog:Cerberus. I had Athena with 9 hoplites together, Odysseus, Hyppolyte, and a Griffin. With the Griffin, we had to make up some statistics for it. And for those who have played the game, Medusa is not usually against Athena. Details, details!
    I rolled and won to choose whether to be attacker or defender. I chose to defend. In this game, the defender gets to step up the terrain before the game. This is important if you are playing against certain characters, since they may benefit from certain features. I would have liked to see Poseidon summon a Kraken  through a well in the middle of the desert! Either way, the board was set up in advance.
   I chose to really defend in this game. I thought that if everyone supported everyone else, I would have had a better chance. Also, Athena had borrowed lightning from Zeus, so I figured I could easily lightning bolt people throughout the game. However, the bolts did not kill as normal. Also, the legends on both sides died out by turn four. It was a real slugfest after that. It really came down to the Gods. Ares decided to really dice up my mortals. Though, I took out quite a few mortals on her side, the whole separated hoplites paid off. It happens! But it was a lot of fun getting there.

My wife, Kalissa's force.

My force!
Starting position. I kept everyone somewhat together.

Kalissa was more spread out. Ares and some hoplites.

Medusa is out there!

My side.

This is the first time out for the Griffin. I always loved this creature!

The other hoplites of my wife.
Cerberus is attacked by the Griffin and Hyppolyte. On the Left, Perseus and Odysseus are in hand-to-hand combat!

Odysseus and Perseus before they killed each other at the same time!

The Griffin scared off Medusa before she shot him with an arrow and killed it.

The hoplites and Hyppolyte dance on Medusa with spears in revenge for their flying friend.

My hoplites need a drink of water.

I got flanked everywhere!

The victors!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Challenger Accepted! A30 Challengers!

This is a Warlord Games Cromwell Tank in the front with  two 3-D Printed Challenger Tanks in the back.

     As I posted earlier in the month about hard to find items, I mentioned that I commissioned someone to make  3-D printed A30 Challenger Tanks for my wife's Welsh Guards. This has been a ongoing search through the internet over the years. Surprisingly, we still do not have any of them for my wife's Flames of War armies or the Cromwells. However, in 1/56 scale, my wife has plenty of Cromwell tanks and Sherman Fireflies. Her forces and mine are based around Market Garden for Late War Bolt Action Games or other rule systems. Sherman Fireflies work for the Guards Armored Division with Cromwell tanks in Normandy, but not so much with Market Garden. Besides, the Fireflies are not alone, since we have been collecting Sherman V's for the Irish Guards. The Challenger made on the scene in the Market Garden Campaign and a few others, but not common based off of numbers. Only 200 were ever built, so I can see why miniature companies would avoid such a tank. But what does disturb me about this logic is the fact that other tanks and vehicles are made. Example: the Joseph Stalin 3 a.k.a IS-3 is made by Warlord Games even though there is no clear evidence that the IS-3 ever saw combat. The same can be said about the Pershing Tank in the American army. It did see combat. One of the most famous films of that tank shows the Pershing doing it's job against a Panther tank in Cologne, Germany in 1945. But it was still rare.
    I truly cannot be too harsh on various companies not making a Challenger tank. I never even heard of one until I started really reading about Operation Market Garden. And the Comet came into play in 1945. To be honesty, it is a sexier looking tank in comparison to the Challenger. But I want to have the historical accurate stuff. That is the fun of historical wargaming: the modelling!
    Thank God for 3-D Printing! This new technology has shown some awesome results. To be honesty, I had my doubts about how good this technology was at this early of a stage. Most of the the time, new tech has various recalls and issues. I have not heard much about this. Through out the year, I had been watch one the few wargaming pioneers with a 3-D printer named Joe Leto. He was making a lot of waves with is 3-D printing of 15mm on the Flames of War Facebook pages. It was pretty top notch stuff. But it is with Tim Spakowski from Kings Hobbies and Games, did I commit to a commission job. Tim had posted on one of the many Facebook groups I post on, a 3 foot German U-boat. I inquired about the cost, but mentioned that I would pass for the time being. If I had bought it, it would have created a whole new expensive, but awesome scenario board! I have to keep my eye on the ball with my current projects. But it was then that I thought of the Challenger Tank issue. So after much discussion, I ordered two of them. It would have been more, but I need to see the work done in 3-D printing in person. However, I think it would have been bad taste to order only one.
   So how did they turn out? They came out pretty awesome! You can see the lines from the printing process across the flat surfaces, but this is very minor. The detail is pretty awesome. The only part that needs improvement are the tracks. They are a little smaller and have no detail for the front and rear part that touches the ground. I am sure this is an issue that is hard to accomplish with relatively new technology. I have a ton of spare tracks for storage if it really bothers me. The barrel is a little thick, but very stable. I am sure it is brittle when it is thinner. Is it a deal breaker? Not at all! Considering the fact that no one is making them at this scale at all and that he was able to make them is awesome! My wife is very happy. We just have to buy some decals, since I am out of any squadron symbols in white as well as the Recce decals I need. I will probably buy more from him later. Either way, here are some more pictures, so far.

One of Joe Leto's 15 mm Jagdpanzer IV L-70 (V)'s painted. *

This is what I got before painting.

This is the comparison of the Warlord Cromwell tank to the Challenger that is 3-D Printed. The red makes it look a little smaller, but the only size issue is that the Warlord Cromwell is a millimeter taller on the hull. Who is normally measuring this during a table top game?

This shows the depth the turret goes. It fits with no flashing that resin has and is as light as plastic, but solid!

Quick base painting.

Despite the lack of detail of tracks, can you really notice before stated?

Just a good view of it almost finished.
  * Since I do not own these pictures and you are the owner, please contact me for removal if it is a problem.

When Things Fit Nicely.

Tom, already had some awesome stuff. I am glad what I made fit with his stuff so well.
    It is publicly out there that I now do commission terrain work. It has taken a little pushing for me to consider doing any commission work at all, but most of that has been with my own personal reservations. I have seen plenty of people who I have known who loved a hobby, and now, are slaved to it as a job with no where near the same interest. I just felt that I would lose interest if it became too much like work than fun. Another thing was that I lacked some faith in what I was making at first. My first projects were no where near my current ones. My feelings have since changed for the better. I found that sharing the hobby with awesome terrain is quite rewarding. There is that and that most of the money factor is going back into my wife and I's hobby of wargaming. After quite a few commissions, I have been enjoying making work for wargamers. And it helps that I play at least one game on the finished product before it leaves.
   For this post, I wanted to share the table set up for a guy who posts on Facebook, Paladin Sixx. It was not too long ago when he contacted me for a job that he wanted a terrain board. Honestly, I was taken back by this, because he has an awesome game room and I seen some of his work before. It is extremely high class stuff! But before I knew it, I was making a board for him and was the only one I made that has a water feature for a commission. Water features tend to be difficult. To top that, I have a cat! Lucky, Izzy is trained to avoid set-up game tables!
   Either way, I am glad to have another happy customer. I have not seen any of the other mats I have made since, and it is nice to see photos. However, I have had great reviews and some repeat business as well as friends of customers. Hopefully, my work will greater enhance our hobby and enjoyment of our games.

The game room this is in rocks!

This is just a great shot.

Everything ties in nicely. The color scheme was based off another board of his. I wanted to keep the same colors so to not alienate his terrain.

It is no secret that I love Panther tanks. To see it in this nice battlefield is awesome!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

AAR: Iron Cross: Supermen with Superfausts!

         After a rather long lull in gaming based of the preoccupied minds over the hurricane damage in our area, I finally got to play a game. It has been about two weeks at this point. Since I had forces out for Flames of War and the table was set, my friend, Bill and I decided to test out the rules for Iron Cross using infantry and infantry support. After all, we wanted to know how the rest of the rules worked out, since the tank action was pretty awesome. We were going into a PAD game with out even knowing it!
        I let Bill play my Panzer Lehr grenadier force that was using against my wife's 4th Canadian Armor. There were some minor changes, but the core unit was about the same. He had 12 squads of infantry upgraded to all with Panzerfausts, three Pak40 AT guns, two 8.8cm Flak guns, three Panther tanks, and one happy King Tiger. I ran my wife's Canadian list consisting of 14 Sherman tanks, 4 Fireflies, 3 Stuarts, and 2 M-10 tank destroyers. I figured it would be an uphill battle, because it usually is for Flames of War. However, there were going to be key differences.
       Instead of really going over the whole play by play of an After Action Report, I am sure the statistics of this game are more notable. For my side, I roughly fired 160 tank rounds at the enemy. The game was so anti-Canadian armor, I started to keep track of the game shots mentally. This actually gave me a bad headache after the game and well into the evening. Out of the 160-or-so shots, 45 were absorbed by the King Tiger with only 8 of them hitting in the front armor. I took out two of the three Panthers, with the first loss taking 18 rounds in the side, and the other taking 22 rounds in the side. The last Panther absorbed 36 shot all over. One Pak40 died. The rest of the shots were hit/misses to everyone else: mostly AT guns. No German infantry was harmed, though they killed 14 of my tanks! Pak40's killed three tanks with the rest of my force picked off by the Panther/Tiger comb. I lost everyone for two Panthers and a Pak40. And both players in this game were rolling terrible!
      It was no secret to my wife that both players, Bill and I were frustrated in this game. The combination of bad rolls and bad rules clouded this game sucking a good amount of fun out of playing. By the time I had lost half of my force, I changed my goal to just kill the last Panther and the King Tiger. I came close to my personal goal, but it was a hard accomplishment in an uphill game that was severely broken. Even, Bill agreed that this was broken. I think I only continued, because calling it would mean it was not a finished play test.
      So the problem at hand was adding infantry and infantry support weapons. With Iron Cross, a large part of the game consists of adding pins to break morale of a unit. And with the case of tanks, you can outright kill the tank with awesome shooting or add pins to that tank to surpass it's morale, thus abandoning the tank. This is done with regular action fire or reaction fire. That is what makes this game fun and quick at times. The problem that comes with infantry is that you can only pin them. There is no damage chart to determine killing a squad of infantry off. Instead, you roll to hit them. If they are hit with a D-10, they get a pin. Then, you roll a D-6. At a +4, the squad gets another pin. The max at long range is 2 pins per unit shot. The only change for this is at close range. Instead, you roll two D-10's. Then, you roll a D-6 for each hit. The max amount for this is 4 pins possible. The morale rating for an single infantry squad is 5. You need six pins to kill it, never mind reaction fire and the ability to roll to remove pins in the second action, which is possible between shots. So, if I was Johnny on the spot with hits in one turn at long range, I have to use three commands/units or rounds of shooting to kill one unit. If you upgrade to Panzerfaust, the infantry can flat out kill you in one hit!
      Bill had 12 squads, so I would have needed 36 tanks to start with to kill 12 units of infantry in one round of shooting or 6 tanks would have to kill per turn as a rough theory. The big problem is that the infantry can move a shoot. Even though, there are modifiers, the concept of this turns the infantry into mobile light weight Pak40's  A squad with unlimited Panzerfausts costs 33 points. A Stuart tank costs 31 points. Infantry can kill in one hit with a weapon rating of 9 with the command potential of shooting six times and can kill six tanks in one turn. The Stuart can shoot once at long range and twice at short range with a weapon rating of 6. At best, it can out pin to kill two squads at long range with six commands or three squads at close range. This is based on all hits in the positive with no reactions that kill the Stuart and/or remove any of the previous pins in the second reactionary action. Yes, that is a mouth full. What this means is that I have a 5% chance to kill a squad of infantry. They have 60% of killing a tank!
      All of the paragraph above is how we were playing it in this game. Both Bill and I stopped to look through the book in several occasions to reconfirm this unbelievable flaw in the rules. So distressing it was that my wife hopped on the computer to read about this in forums for answers. They were even more applauding! Essentially, the writers purposely left out some of this stuff for people to play it in their own way. In other words, house rule the game with infantry. And when we really read the rules, we found out that infantry was 50% more bad ass in the game. Features, such as, they can fire Panzerfausts while in transports. Tanks cannot reaction fire if they don't roll +5 plus modifiers when it is normally a +3. Enemy infantry reduces vehicle movement in half when within twelve inches. Infantry firing at targets within 6 inches can a +1 damage modifier against armor or making their weapon rating of 9 into a 10. Now, they are walking short-ranged 17 pounders!
      This post has been hijacked into a technical rant! But I suppose it is important to know that these types of games happen. The conclusions both Bill and I had come to were that Iron Cross is now just a "Tank Game" for us. Sure, it can be easy to make "home rules" for the other units. The authors mention how the game was not for competitions. And it can be modified fairly well for a convention game or a scenario based game among friends, However, how hard would it have been to type a simple damage chart for infantry? And if "Home Rules" are the answer to the problem, why not have this as a free PDF? I know this won't be the last set of rules I will come across that does this, but it is annoying, none the less!