Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bolt Action X-mas Soviet Army

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable holidays.  Someone thought I had been good this year and gave me a surprise under the tree Christmas morning.

Bolt action Soviet Army
In addition to a Starter army set I received a 45mm Anti-Tank gun, Soviet command pack and black order dice along with the ruined hamlet set.  I also received an airbrush which I was able to put to use once I had assembled the troops.  I decided to first put the T-34/85 which is a plastic kit.  I was a bit tentative with the plastic kit, but this model went together extremely well.  I wish all the warlords kits fit together this well.

Once assembled I put the air brush to work an in one evening I was able to complete it start to finish.

In addition to the metal 45mm Anti-Tank gun the army set also includes a 81mm Mortar team and metal command set which are two officers and and medic.

45mm Anti-Tank Gun
81mm Mortar team
The remainder of the Army set was plastic figures which allow you to vary the configuration.  If you are familiar with the Warlords plastics you know they are nice models, but a pain to assemble.  I spent one night assembling and the next day block painting and dipping them.  Today I finished with dry brushing and flocking the bases.  I do not use the plastic disc included.  Instead I use metal washers which provide a bit of weight and also allow the use of magnetic sheets for transport.

The box recommends a 1000pt force, but I did not follow it exact as I wanted more Anti-tank rifle teams.  In the end I assembled four ATR teams and five squads.

ATR Teams
Complete Soviet Force
I will now have to play with the Army list to see what I can come up with for a 1000pt force.  I also have a box of War games Factory Late War Soviets to assemble so I will have plenty of infantry options.  Both include LMGs, but I think I will want to add some more MMGs and possibly another vehicle or two.  I also have some Naval infantry coming from a recent sale Black Tree designs had.  I received a e-mail notification that Black Tree Designs is having a end of year sale on all historical figures, so I am sure I will be able to fill any gaps.

Now off to build some army lists. :)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

USS Shangi-La CVA 38

I picked up this model for my Father in Law who served on her in the mid-late 60s.  I was going to just give him the model for X-mas, but my wife said he would never complete it based on some models we gave him previously.  As a result I decided to assemble it and will add a engraved plate to it before I give it to him.  The plan is to wrap the box and then present him with the assembled version after he opens it.

The kit also includes an air wing, helicopter and missiles.  I am waiting to paint those until after we give it to him so he can provide input on paint scheme for the time he was on board.

Hope he likes it.  It has been a long time since I assembled a plastic kit. I had one minor set back painting the deck when I dropped it.  Not a good thing when you own a cat and dog that shed. A minor set back, but still came out pretty good just not as well as I hoped the first time. ;)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Black Hat Baptism, Battle of Brawner's Farm - Regimental Fire and Fury

This past Wednesday evening my son, Justin, and I finally had the opportunity to play Regimental Fire and Fury Battle of Brawner's Farm using our 10mm ACW armies.  This has been a scenario I have wanted to play for along time and finally have enough troops to make it happen at home.  I have been a long time ACW history buff with a focus on the Iron Brigade which was composed of three WI regiments (2nd, 6th and 7th) along with the 19th Indiana and latter the 24th Michigan.

The Battle of  Brawner's Farm took place in the late afternoon early evening of August 28th 1862 as a prelude to the Second Battle of Bull Run/Manasas as the Union Army searched for the Confederates.  It is commonly referred to in Iron Brigade history as the Baptism of fire as it was the first action the entire Brigade fought in under BG Gibbon.  In the following weeks they would fight on and earn the famous moniker the "Iron Brigade".  On the afternoon of August 28th 1862 they were simply Gibbon's Black Hat Brigade and although they drilled superbly they had not been tested in battle.  That evening the four regiments of the Gibbon's brigade along with two regiments of Doubleday's Brigade along with Battery B 4th U.S. Artillery would face off against a majority of Stonewall Jackson's Corps in the fields of the Brawner farm and prove their merit fighting the confederates to a standstill until darkness prevented further fighting.  

To learn more on the battle there is a great article here:

The scenario is published in the Regimental Fire and Fury Scenario book and does a great job setting up the situation and giving troop placement along with historical movement restrictions.  The Union troops are greatly outnumbered, but the OoB limits the Confederate and Union reinforcement entry points as well as movement to allow historical results.

Justin saw the set up and decided he would play the Confederates.  I think he thought that with that many troops he should be able to come up with an easy win over dad.  We even recruited grandpa to come over and help the Rebels manage their large force.  Justin soon learned that history and good die rolling would prove difficult to overcome.

Below is a pictorial record of our results:
Scenario set up with initial deployments
Stonewall Brigade faces off against 2nd WI while the 19th IN and 7th WI move up
Wasting no time the Rebels aggressively Charge into the 2nd WI
At the same time Confederate Reinforcements move to threaten the Union right
The crack 2nd WI held firm against the charge and then fell back to align with the other regiments to poor in a tremendous fire that quickly thinned the Rebel ranks
After reducing the Rebel ranks Gibbon counter charged and drove the Stonewall Brigade back
This time the 2nd WI achieved a breakthrough while sweeping the rebels from the field
There were plenty of rebels on hand to meet the threat and push the 2nd WI back again
While the 2nd WI regroups the 7th WI and 19th IN dress their lines to meet the mounting threat
Gibbon pushes his line forward to the fence line to exchange volleys while the first of Doubleday's units moves up to support
On the Right Union Artillery proved overwhelming and broke up the initial advance while the 6th WI moves up to meet the next threat
Rebel troops move into the woods to escape the Union Artillery while the Rebel batteries deploy 
By the end of turn 3 the casualty count was 21-2 Union Artillery and devastating volley had proved overwhelming.
Knowing the casualties were mounting and he had to take the field the Confederates launched another massive charge
On the right without support the 6th WI would soon be over powered
The Union ranks were thinned, but the held strong and repulsed the Rebel push on the left
The 56th PA and 76th NY moved into position on the far left
By the end of turn 5 the casualties had risen to 36-10 reaching the 30% heavy causality mark for the Confederates
The Confederates tried one more time to charge the far left
On the right the 6th WI conducted a fighting withdrawal while union Artillery reduced the advancing rebels
The Union lines still held strong and the Confederate leadership realized their situation was desperate
After 6 turns all the Confederate reinforcements were on the board.  The numerical superiority that once loomed was now reduced to almost even.  The difference though was that every Union unit was still fresh while many of the Confederate regiments were now worn or even spent.  Facing four turns remaining the Confederates wisely decided to concede the field to the Union and preserve what was left for future battles.

In this game history sort of repeated itself with even better results for the Union.  Much of this is due to lack of experience on the part of my opposing commander.  In his defense we had played AWI the two weeks previous where Artillery was not that effective.  ACW Artillery was much more effective at a greater range.  He learned the hard way that moving troops in the open in front of Union guns was not a wise move. I will also fully admit that the first two turns my die rolling was exceptional with a lot of 7,8,and 9s never once  rolling low ammo once.

Overall a great evening bonding with family over toy soldiers

Bolt Action Terrain and first game

I have finally finished my initial armies to include the vehicles, so it was time to play.  Before that could happen I had to set up suitable terrain.  Now I have gamed for years, but my collection includes 15mm and 10mm armies and this is my first adventure into 28mm.  As a result I had to think on a grander scale as the majority of my terrain to include trees just was not big enough.  After building the forces my wallet told me I was limited on what I could do.  After searching online I discovered 4Ground building as reviewed on Bolt Action.Net.

Better yet I found some in stock and on sale at my local game store.  As a result I became the owner or three buildings and some walls.  They were super easy to assemble and only required white glue.  I think I used a hobby knife twice to free a part,  The quality was beyond any other items I had purchased for the hobby.  Other 4Ground items will be on my future want list.
4 Ground Damaged House Type 1
4 Ground Tudor Timber Framed Cottage
4 Ground Ruined House Type 2
This purchase exhausted my remaining hobby funds for the time being.  So the rest of the terrain would need to be on the cheap.  Fortunately I had a bag of woodland scenic larger trees  not assembled which blended with my existing smaller trees made for a nice effect. I also made some low stone walls using cork board I had previously purchased to make walls for my 10mm ACW gaming.  I simply made them a bit taller and they worked out well.   Overall I was happy with the initial result and there will be plenty of improvements that can be made overtime.
Initial Terrain set-up

Before starting out I also found one other valuable resource and Quick Reference Sheet(QRS).  While the Bolt Action Rule book has a nice reference section in the back I have always found a QRS very handy for all Miniature war gaming as it puts the basics in each players hand.

Now it was time for our first game.  My eldest son Justin volunteered to be my opponent for our first practice game on our own.  I had played once before at our club, but never used vehicles. I had since read both the German and American Army books as well as the base rule book.  No matter how many times you read the rules it is never the same as playing.
American Force: All Regular except Inexperienced Bazooka Team 999pts
We decided to play the annihilation scenario for our first game and just duke it out.  Justin played Americans and I the Germans.  He won the die roll and wisely choose the side with two buildings.  We set aside our reserves and then drew the first order die-GAME ON!
Germany Force: 1st and 3rd SQD Vets and Inexperienced Panzerschrek Team 999pts

Sherman Damaged
The first turn was spent moving troops up and then turn two we started to bring reserves forward after seeing initial deployments. The key moment came early on when the Americans unwisely exposed his Sherman before the Panzer IV had moved.  Our first tank combat unfolded before us as the Panzer fired and hit the Sherman and then penetrated.  Due to lack of familiarity we thought the Sherman was knocked out, but then noticed the damage table on the reference chart and realized there was another role to make.  The German's fortune ended there when the roll came up with only immobilizing the Sherman.

Greyhound gets revenge
What happened next essentially decided the game.  The Americans boldly advanced the Greyhound for a shot on the Panzer IV in the open.  Not only the greyhound hit, but it penetrated.  The damage roll resulted in a fire so there was a chance to keep the Panzer IV in the contest.  Unfortunately the crew did not have the stomach for it and bailed knocking the Panzer IV out.

The rest of the game spent maneuvering  to finish off the damaged, but lethal Sherman.  In the meantime the Greyhound moved about the field of battle with impunity knocking out my MMG and others.

In the end I finally finished off the Sherman, but that was the only American unit completely eliminated.  In the meantime I had lost four completed units.  The game did go seven turns which allowed me to close the gap slightly in the final turn, but the final score was a resounding American victory as I scored 305pts to his 500pts.
Battle to Finish off the Damaged Sherman
Panzerschrek caught in the open while German Squad is pinned in the wood line

While my son is always happy to beat the old man the game helped us work out several issues for firing vehicles, mortars and resolving assaults.  It also showed how valuable pin markers can be as units failed to make moral rolls on multiple occasions.  

The game showed us that these two armies are great for a friendly game, but will certainly require some tweaking to be competitive.  I can now see the value in smaller squads to allow a second platoon to get an additional leader to affect morale rolls as well.

The most important aspect was that my son really enjoyed the game and is looking forward to playing again which makes it all worth while.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Foray into Building Bolt Action Armies

German Army Book
Several weeks ago I was introduced to Bolt Action.  Since that time I abandoned my plan to use my AAM minis to play as the weapon type is so important in Bolt action and the AAM figures lack the detail and quantity required to assemble appropriate squads.  As a result I decided to spend some of the proceeds form recent gaming sales to acquire appropriate 28mm figs form Warlord games and War-games Factory.  Besides as one of my good gaming buddies always tells me 28mm is a much more manly scale.

Over the last month or so I have been assembling and painting my troops and this weekend I have reached the point that all my infantry are now complete for both my German and American Armies.  This was no easy task for me.  I have painted countless 15mm and 10mm figures in the past, but this was my first foray into 28mm plastics.  The plastic troops all have to be individually assembled to include attaching heads, arms, weapons and other equipment.  After completing my first German squads I quickly learned that the trusty super glue was no longer the way to go and that nothing beats good old plastic model glue for this task.

U.S. Army book
In the end I now have a total of three squads with leadership, crew served weapons, special weapons teams and two vehicles per Army.  This is enough to field 1000 points for each with the ability to change a few things up and try new options.  Additionally, I have another box plus of troops to assemble as I better learn the game and decide on new options.  As the troops are custom built I decided to wait on assembling these so I can configure them later as needed.  The specific army books describe the various units and vehicles in detail to include how many points they cost in an army list. This allows one to customize their armies.  At this point I have constructed a German and American army that are fairly conservative.  I did not build these with the intent of playing in tournaments yet.  They are based on the Normandy selector and follow fairly historical builds versus a competitive tournament style.

This is what I have so far.
Three U.S. Squads 12, 12 and 10
Leader team, Bazooka Team, Sniper team
50 CAL HMG team, 30 CAL MMG Team, 60mm Mortar team
M8 Greyhound Scout Car
M4A3 Sherman Medium Tank
German Platoon 3 Squads (10,10 and 7) with Leader team
Flamethrower team, Panzerschreck team, Sniper team 
Medium Mortar Team, MG42 MMG Team

Pin Markers
German Vehicles yet to be completed
So that is it for now.  As mentioned 28mm is an entirely new scale for me.  While I am happy with how these turned out as gaming models there are some more painting techniques I would like to try on future models as well as some detail that can be added like insignia and unit patches.

 Once I get a few games in I can then decide how to better customize each army in terms of competitive advantage.  In the meantime I think we have a couple of decent historical lists that should provide some great father son games.