Monday, February 24, 2014

German vs. U.S. Armor Battle - AAR (Bolt Action)

Last night my son and I final played our long awaited armor battle pitting Americans(him) vs. Germans(me).  We set up the table adding a bit more length and played the long way.  I proposed we each place a couple of objectives, but he just wanted to play  the maximum attrition scenario.  Forces were approx 1500pts each.  The Americans had a slight advantage in order dice with ten opposed to the German nine dice to start.

Starting U.S. Forces
Starting German forces-one squad was reduced after this pic so they all would fit in the transports
We rolled off and he chose to start from the end without the buildings fearing the hedges would slow him down.  My tanks moved on to my left so they could see the length of the road and we started trading shots at long range.  He rolled very well achieving many pins on the German armor, but the -1 pen at long range was a determining factor on limiting damage.  In our previous games we had forgot this modifier, and it really makes a difference especially for the lighter American guns.

Initial ranging shots with little effect
The more powerful M10 came up and added an additional Pin to the Panther
The 251/10 with the light AT gun proved ineffective at range
The Panther shook off a pin and hit the lead Sherman resulting in the first kill of the game
The M10 soon suffered the same fate at the hands of the STUG III
As armor targets on the left we dwindling the Germans chose to deploy the Vet Grenadiers from the 251/10 to meet the impending VET U.S. infantry threat.
On the right a Bazooka team came up to threaten the PZ IV, but a German Squad removed the threat with a bold assault
The German infantry would suffer at the hands of the immobilized Chaffe though as it was able to make the order role and decimated them at point blank range
The PZ IV quickly answered though.  The M24 proved tough as it took a hit from the Panzerscheck and two from the PZ IV to finally kill it
The Americans still had some fight in them as they Assaulted and eliminated the Vet Grenadiers
The game went into Turn 7 and it was cleanup time for the German Armor
A lone Sherman remained immobilized at the end of the turn
American Casualties
German casualties-tough day to be a German infantryman

Despite what ended up in a landslide victory for Germany it was a great game as we both had fun.  At least I think he had fun as he was still talking to me afterward and had some ideas for future games.  We both agreed German armor is going to be a tough nut to crack for the Americans.  Tactics will have to change as the Americans need to draw the Germans in closer before engaging to negate the range advantage.  At one point the Panther and the STUG III each had 3 pins and the PZ IV had 2 pins due to a stun hit.  His dice to hit were doing well, but the U.S. Armor just lacked the penetration to knock out the the German tanks.

I do think objectives would have helped balance out game a bit more.  As it was I barely moved my armor once I moved onto the table and had LoS of the majority of the table and he advanced toward me aggressively and was still at long range when the Germans could reach out and touch him without the long range penalty for an extra 1+ turns.  Additionally, I think we will play the width like a standard game with more LoS blocking terrain in the center to encourage maneuver.

In hindsight the Americans would have been better served to take the end of the table with the buildings and keep their armor hidden forcing the Germans to advance and give up the long range advantage.

The game did move along very quickly until the infantry deployed which slowed play up a bit.  We were still done in less than 2 hours which is something we rarely accomplish with a 1000pt game.

More armor in the way of a PZ III, 3rd Sherman, a M3 half track and 251/1 half track are on the bench so I am sure we will revisit another armor battle soon enough.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Company B 28mm Vehicle review

A few weeks ago I was discussing Bolt action with one of my good friends, Mike, and telling him about how much easier it was to paint with my air brush I received for X-mas.  He explained that he was planning a Burma campaign for the upcoming convention season and asked if I might help him with painting a few vehicles.  The next week Mike came up and a "few" vehicles turned into a combination of nine British and Japanese Tanks and trucks.

The vehicles were all from Company B and required assembly.  I had heard about Company B and visited their web store a few times, but had not ordered from them yet.  I figured this would be a good opportunity to check them out first hand and help my friend while I gained experience with the new air brush.

Company B web store:

The vehicles were as follows:

M3 Lee Medium tank x2
M3 "Honey Stuart" light tank x2
Morris 2PDR Porter
Standard Utility 4x2 "Tilly"
Type 95 HA-GO Tankette x2

Complete order prior to assembly
The package comes with a picture of each vehicle, but like Warlord Games no detailed assembly instructions.  Most of the assembly was fairly intuitive and any questions could be referenced to the pictures with a quick Internet search.  I did get stuck on a couple items, but e-mailed Company B and Bruce was very helpful in answering questions and even sent a couple more pics from different angles to help me out.

I was very impressed with the amount of extra stowage that was included with some of the models.

M3 Lee mostly assembled showing all the stowage included
I did find some of the assembly a bit difficult due to the fact that there were not always guided or pegs to line up the tracks as some other models have.  As a result I had the gauge the spacing with the hull and secure the tracks in place while the glue hardened.

Honey Stuarts using rubber bands to secure the tracks
M3 Lee assembly complete
As for casting quality I was initially very impressed with the first M3 Lee I assembled and then noticed that there was some notable variation from one model to the next.  Most of it was simple cleaning up the flashing which is expected with resin and pewter.

The Type 95 Tankettes were a bit more problematic.  The casting quality on these was a bit on the sub standard side in my opinion.  The resin was very thin in spots and the tracks actually had chunks missing and one track was cracked.   Since they were not mine I consulted my friend and we agreed to press on as paint would cover most of it and he wanted these for mid February play testing.

IJA armor during assembly
To be fair we did not give Company B a chance to send replacements, and my guess is they would have based on the interaction I did have.  When I place my first order I request that they take there time and double check each model for casting issues.

Once assembled it was on to painting the part I really enjoy.  My friend gave me artistic license with these.  The tanks were for a Burma campaign so the allied tanks were to be British.  I asked him to send some pics of what he envisioned and then did a web search of my own.  No decals were included and Mike did not provide any.  I asked if he wanted some and he decided to go without for now.  You will also note I did not place the stowage.  This is something Mike will do later if he desires.

I decided to go with the IJA first to get the camo patterns out of the way as we decided the Allied vehicles would all be the same brownish drab.  These were the results:

HA-GO Type 95


M3 Lee

M3 "Honey Stuart"

Porter and "Tilly"

Overall I am happy with the results as is Mike. He already picked up the IJA vehicles as they were completed last week when we gamed together.  I just finished the Allied vehicles this past weekend.

I would give Company B an overall B+ on the quality of the product.  Had there not been casting issues with the IJA Armor it would be a solid A, but due to the inconsistency especially the the IJA tanks would downgrade them .  Granted I did not give them an opportunity to correct the issue, but my feeling is certain items should not make it past initial quality control and should not be left to the customer to have to ask for a replacement.  Either way I would recommend their product line as the scale seems to fit very well with the Warlord Games 1/56 (28mm) stuff I already own.  I certainly plan to order from them in the future.

As I do not consider myself a professional I was not expecting payment for my help other than replacement of materials used.  Mike has indicated that  a Company B order may be in my future.  The M3 Lee while really a European tank certainly is a beautiful model.



Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bolt Action Top Secret- TAKE TWO

I enjoyed the Top Secret scenario the other night so much that after I told my son about it he challenged me to a match today.

This time I was back to my role as the German Heer and he brought his trusted paratroopers supported by light armor.

I won the set up role and was able to deny him the side of the table with the roads other wise the table was set up fairly equal with the same amount of obstacles to cross to reach the objective at the center.
Initial table set up from German side
U.S. forces deploying forward
Grenadiers and SS take up position
Grenadiers moving up the flank
SS Vets make a dash at the greyhound, but it uses Recce to escape
Paratroopers in position to rush the objective on turn three
Germans are ready as well
Germans get the first die and take the objective with the Grenadiers, but the paratroopers quickly counter
Although reduced the paratroopers are a tough bunch and route the grenadiers
Finally the way is clear for the SS to counter, but they cannot pass the morale test
The U.S. sniper fires and misses the SS at the end of turn 3, turn 4 the SS barely make the morale roll
Running through two ambushes the SS hit the paratroopers and claim the objective back
The officer comes up and takes possession while the VET SS act a a human shield 
The American throw everything they have to clear the SS out of the way eventually destroying them
Just in time a fresh squad takes the objective before the American rush past the officer to assault
These were Vet Grenadiers armed with SMGs though and the paratroopers were no match in the 2nd round
Feeling victory may be near the other German officers decide to get in the fight and assault the U.S. officer 
Turn 5 despite his best efforts to pin them out the fresh grenadiers make the roll and escape to the edge with the objective.

Another great game that was a real nail biter right down to the end.  I am liking this scenario a lot and think it may be my go to scenario especially for teaching new players.  this was the first time we finished a game in less than two hours.