Sunday, September 30, 2018

Bolt Action Demo-Battle of France 500pt

Today I had the opportunity to roll some Bolt Action dice which is the first time since Adepticon in March.  It has been way to long.  Certainly have not left Bolt Action, just been distracted with other projects like Star Wars Legion and D&D and there is only so much hobby time to go around.

We have a new store in Janesville, Battle Command Games, who is now carrying Warlord products including Bolt Action.  The owner would like to get a regular Bot Action group together including a league, which I fully support especially locally.

Today was meant to be a league day, so I showed up with four 500pt armies and 2 tables of terrain.  Unfortunately it was short notice and not well advertised, so not many were able to make it.  I met a new interested player Kevyn at the shop and put him through the paces using early war French and Germany 500 pt lists.
The Battlefield
After giving him the basics on the rules and the units we rolled up demolition and started the game.  Kevyn chose to take command of the Germans and I took command of  my trusty French.

He rolled high and chose the side of the table and placed his objective.  Since it was an intro and small point game neither of us placed and units in reserve or used out flank.  The table was also slightly smaller, 4'x5', which worked well for 500 points.

Initial German Deployment the infamous Liege gun

Guarding the objective

Strong French Defense Position

Good field of fire

French offensive on the left

Oh no they have armor!

Classic Stand off

Light arty vs, Panhard managed 3 hits, but never penetrated

With the Pz II pinned and immobilized time to assault the LT

Germans respond in kind causing a desperate struggle of mutual destruction

French Infantry finally capture the objective on Turn 6

Kevyn had a good time and was a great sport

It was nice to get the models out again and play a friendly game while teaching a new player.  The hope it to build/ re-build the local Bolt action community in the coming months.

Since Battle Command Games is the only local retailer carrying Bolt Action I have volunteered to help the owner, Josh get something organized.  My hope it to run a proper Demo day prior to Thanksgiving to generate interest in a local group. 

If there is enough interest we would like to form a escalation league with organized game days, but flexibility to allow players to play on their own and report results.  If there is enough interest Josh has stated he can offer discounts and possible prize support.  I am always in favor of supporting a local game shop for my hobby needs.

Watch the Bolt Action Southern WI/ Northern IL Facebook page as well as Battle Command Games for future event announcements and details.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Something Old is New Again- D&D 5th edition

I was recently invited to try Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) at a new local gaming store, Battle Command Games.  D&D is nothing new to me, in fact it is a very old friend.  So old in fact, that I have not played in 30+ years.  I do not really recall the last time I actually played, but I am sure it was before I graduated High School, so mid to late 1980s and it was Advanced Dungeon and Dragons (AD&D) at the time. 
5th Edition Players Handbook
I was first introduced to Basic D&D and then AD&D in middle school and played regularly for about 5 years with my friends.  Then cars, girls, college and life in general came along and my books sat in a box until I finally sold them online several years ago as collector items.  I even remember back in the day when  D&D exploded in popularity there was a lot of controversy around the game and it made the news several times.  I had to explain to my grandmother that it was not devil worship when I asked for the books as a birthday present.  :)
AD&D Player's Handbook from when I last played
As stated I fell away, but still observed from a distance as I returned more to my historical gaming.  I would talk to gaming friends and see all the new material at hobby stores and conventions.  More recently, I became internet friends with one of the game designers at Wizard of the Coast(WotC),  who was also the lead designer of one of the games that brought me back to historical miniature gaming, Axis and Allies War at Sea.  In the process, I learned about the split of D&D and Pathfinder with the failure of D&D 4th edition and my fiend was laid off as a result, which unfortunately ended the game I loved as he was the lead designer for War at Sea for WoTC .

5th Edition Starter Set
More recently, some of my friends mentioned they were returning to D&D.  My interest was sparked with TV shows like Big Bang Theory and the Netflix series Stranger Things.  A few years ago my younger son even expressed interest and when I offered to get the D&D starter box he decided he was not that interested and I was busy with historical gaming projects anyway.
First Reaper Minis
So a few weeks ago I went and checked out Battle Command Games as they carry both historical genre as well as fantasy. While there I learned a bit more about 5th edition and the concept of D&D Adventure League, where you did not have to have your own group, but could just show up and play.  Some friends encouraged me to try so I broke down and spent $20 on a starter and bought a couple Reaper minis to paint.   I figured I could always get my money back by selling the painted minis.  Besides, I am all about supporting a new local game store.

I read through the basic rules, found some online resources including more reference material, and really liked what I read.  Despite all the bad things I had heard about D&D failing, 5th edition seemed more streamlined and less complicated then what I recall from AD&D, but had a classic D&D feel to it.

Last Friday was the first session of Adventure League at Battle Command Games.  I showed up prepared with my Pre-Generated character from the starter which I had transferred to a free fillable PDF.  I had added background material along with my painted figures and was ready to play.  There was a crowd of about 12-15, but only a few were ready to play as many still needed to generate characters. 

One of the players, Matt, was ready to run an Adventure module for those ready to go.  My friends wanted to stay together and were still building characters, so I thought why not, and sat down with five total strangers and had one of the best gaming experiences in recent years.
First D&D die roll in many years
By the time we concluded my Dwarf Cleric, Thoradin, had taken down two goblins and aided the party with several others along with a troublesome hill giant.  I even ventured into role playing mode and helped one of our party heal and befriend a shrunken cave bear who she now has as a companion.
Thoradin's first goblin victim
I was hooked!  The problem is the store currently only plans to run Adventure League monthly.  I want more and I want it now!  :) 

As a result, I found the core books and started reading some more.  I also found reaper miniatures that match the equipment and armor of the five pre-generated characters that come with the starter.  In a single night I can complete multiple figures where it usually takes a few days to complete historical units.  The nice thing is you really only need a few minis as a player. 
Collection quickly growing
I also learned another local store, Goblin Valley Games, runs Adventure League weekly, so I went and checked it out.  Again, I joined a party of total strangers in a adventure that was probably a bit tougher than my 1st level Cleric should have taken on after only one adventure.  Fortunately everyone else was 2nd through 4th level.  This adventure involved more detective work and role playing.  It also went on much longer (about four hours) and ended with a final encounter that almost saw the demise of Thoradin twice.  Thanks to some great cooperative play Thoradin  survived while helping to take down a goblin, two Orcs and the lead bad guy with a final blow.  The rest of the party battled multiple other goblins, orcs and a nasty ogre.  We all survived, although very battered.  As a result Thoradin earned enough XP to jump him up to 3rd level with what he had earned in the first adventure.
Second Adventure
For my regular readers, do not worry I am not leaving historical miniature gaming, but D&D will definitely be part of my gaming  line up for the foreseeable future.  I am really enjoying both the gaming and hobby aspect.  Already I have made some new gaming friends and have even been invited to play in a private group by Matt, my first DM, which I am eager to try.

I have already come to the realization that I will want to DM again some day, so I have read through the module that comes with the starter set, "The Lost Mines of Phandelver", and begun to collect the monsters and characters needed so I can run a memorable adventure for the players.

Adventure Module form the starter
I cannot believe it has taken 30 years to come back to D&D, but I am glad I did.  I am also happy I am doing it now.  Having learned the history of D&D over the last 30 years I am not sure I would have stayed and enjoyed it as much as 5th edition.  This edition just feels right and it seems like you have the flexibility to make D&D what your group wants. 

Current painted Characters from Reaper
If you like the role playing aspect you can focus more on that.  If you like the combat, there are plenty of opportunities.  If  miniatures are your thing, they seem to have more of a place in D&D than they did when I was first learning to paint 30 years ago.  Technology has come along way, so 3D printing seems big in the hobby to customize characters to your liking.  If you are not a painter, there are a ton of pre-painted minis out there.  I plan to use many of the more affordable pre-painted creatures for my adventure and then just touch them up so they look even better.

So if you are like me and have avoided D&D in the past because it just looks overwhelming and you do not have the time, I encourage you to think again.  Get ahold of a Players handbook and give it a read.  I was surprised at how fast I was playing again and really enjoying it.

D&D is back.  I think 5th edition is a winner that will be around for awhile and is bringing more people back to the hobby.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Gettysburg -July 1st 2018 (155th Anniversary)

As planned my father and two sons Justin and Jared along with a friend Austyn refought the first day of the battle of Gettysburg on the actual 155th anniversary of the battle.

We used my 10mm armies on the custom map made by Cigar Box augmented with hills and trees which made for a great battle and epic diorama as the battle progressed.

The Union commanded by Justin and dad and later joined by Austyn fought to stave off the Confederate juggernaut commanded by Jared and I.  We used the 2nd edition Brigade Fire and Fury rules along with the scenario from the book.
Army of the Potomac

Army of Northern Virginia
The Battlefield viewed from the West

Archer's Brigade on the move

Iron Brigade in a precarious position after charging through Herbst woods

Union Artillery posted near the Lutheran Seminary

Fight for McPherson's Ridge

Cutler's Brigade stands fast

Gamble's cavalry Brigade defending the flank

Iron Brigade moves to support Cutler after sweeping the woods

Charge the cavalry

Counterbattery fire

Union reinforcements rush to the sound of the guns

Cavalry check a charge a temporarily hold

Support comes up and Pender drives off Bufford

Doubleday in retreat hotly pursued by fresh Rebels

Iron Brigade caught in the open

Meredith skillfully maneuvers his brigade to form a line  

Union 1st Corps hotly engaged by two divisions

Union attempts to hold the valley

Confederates quickly swarm in to attack

Battered survivors of Wadsworth's division hold on

Howard's XI Corps clings to the stone wall

Rhodes is now on the field pushing the XI Corps

Confederates quickly move past the Union defenders on the left

AP Hill presses on toward the objective Seminary ridge

Howard hold tough  stalling Ewells' advance

Hill will not be stopped despite heavy losses the Rebels drive on

All but one Union Battery is silenced and the Confederates push forward

Last of the 1st Corps survivors take up position  

Howard's Artillery pours it on to hold of Rhodes

XI Corps finally starts to fall back

Union 1st Corps and Cavalry  is wrecked and XI Corps casualties are mounting 

Hill's command just hit heavy casualties Ewell is still in good shape
In the scenario it was 2PM (Turn 9) and all the Union reinforcements were on the field.  The Confederates still had most of Early's division still due to arrive.  Despite finally pushing Hill into heavy casualties (most of Heth's division) Justin and Austyn realized the situation was desperate and most likely beyond winning.

Overall the scenario played out fairly historically with a few tactical differences.  The Union generals knew up front the were outnumbered and needed to fight a strategic withdraw. 

Best laid plans rarely survive first contact though.  In the heat of the moment they could not resist the temptation to go on the offensive early which resulted in leaving three Union brigades exposed as the bulk of Pender's division arrived on the field looking for a fight. 

All in all a great day of gaming and excellent way to remember the sacrifices made by both blue and gray 155 years ago that set the stage for the culmination of the battle of Gettysburg July 2nd and 3rd 1863.

Always look forward to getting this scenario on the table again.

Hope you enjoyed