Friday, January 28, 2011

More on Battle Cry 150th Anniversary Edition

Robert Cordery's Wargaming Miscellany blog (it's on my reading list to the right) often features a number of Richard Borg games in his projects.  He has recently reviewed some of the contents of the 150th Civil War Anniversary Edition of Battle Cry. Check out his posts on the board and some terrain pieces and figure comparisons. I posted about the new edition of the game here

Also, I should add, the cards look great and their artwork really fits in with what you see on the board and terrain tiles. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Firestorm - Bagration

I recently received a copy of Battlground's Firestorm - Bagration campaign game (this was the big Soviet offensive in the summer of 1944 that pretty much ended German hopes in Russia). 

I like the FOW campaign ideas of linked scenarios and bonus "power units" - referred to in the game as Firestorm units - for boosting your tabletop armies for certain engagements. The interface between the campaign map movements and the game table seem to have a good dynamic. That said, I don't currently have painted Soviets ready for FOW (there's a growing number of troops in lead mountain, though). 

The one thing we are looking forward to trying out is the 'General's Wargame', which totally takes place on the mapboard. Each player is assumed to have armies in their territories and the Firestorm units are bonuses that may be employed to tip the balance of their engagements. The elite units may be lost in combat, win or lose. This concept could work well in a Late Roman campaign setting, with the deployment of certain palatine units and the like. It really got me to thinking.

Another thing I like is the concept of the 'Total War' game, which is designed for really big games. While I don't generally like to play really big games (I do enjoy looking at them), I mostly like the idea of dividing forces into combat and support groups and for using a 'To The Last Man' concept for army morale. This makes me think my arbitrary scenario-based army breakpoint ideas for Great War Memoir aren't a bad way to go about tabletop army-level morale.

You can check out the game's design notes here on the Flames of War website.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

FOW Project: US Army Colors

US Mortar Teams and Paints
I think the search for US army khaki colors approaches the elusive search for German field gray uniforms and dunkengelb armor.

I am trying out a new (for me) paint - Privateer Press' Formula P3 paints for their Warmachine miniatures. Battledress Green looks like a very close match to some actual World War II US Army khaki items I have seen up close, and I have been applying it to my US heavy weapons teams. 

Something else new I have been doing with the teams is applying an undercoat of GW Catachan Green over the black spray primer. I think it helps to define the figure details a little better than a sometimes dodgy pass with the primer and the color ought to help bring out the green hues of the uniform and equipment.

Another good color is P3 Thornwood Green. I think it is probably too dark for US uniforms, but it has potential for helmets, machine guns, mortars - and possibly armor.  

Oh yeah - the P3 paints go on nicely and they seem to have a good pigment content. I'm not a paint expert, but I'd say they are comparable to Vallejo in quality.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Memoir 44 for The Great War: Suppression/Rally

HaT cover art for WWI ANZACs
One thing that seems to work well in our playtests is suppression, which limits the affected unit to one d6 attacks and no movement, as mentioned in the opening post on the subject

We also made a change to fire reduction caused by terrain: a unit may always have one d6 attack, even if terrain conditions might actually reduce attack dice to zero. We noticed this gave a little extra punch to machine guns who might otherwise be nullified by entrenchments at medium range.

We decided that suppression could be removed with a simple activation order, but that was all the unit could do. Furthermore, we also let units rally, meaning that an activation will restore a lost figure. Of course, you cannot rally while suppressed, nor can you do both in the same activation. 

More later on some thoughts about army morale/breakpoints and melee combat.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

FOW Project: US Weapon Crews and a Favorite Glue

Elmer's School Glue Gel and FOW figs
While things seem to be working out all right with my US heavy support weapons (81mm mortars, HMGs), it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to paint and base the crews as well.

I did not get much done in this hobby session except for prepping the mortar crews and a few other figures. I don't usually base my 15mm figs before painting; instead I temporarily mount them on nails and plant them into a piece of styrofoam covered in newspaper (the newspaper protects the styrofoam from the dissolving properties of paint sprays). 

The glue is the real story in this post.

A couple of years ago I stumbled across the best glue for mounting metal figs on the nails: Elmer's school glue gel. OK, I haven't done any scientific testing here, but I can tell you that the gel glue has a weaker bond than regular white (or craft) glue - at least when it comes to metal-to-metal. I have had to gently wrest a painted fig or two from a nail using white craft glue, all the while trying not to scratch the paint job.  I don't have this problem with the gel at all. 

I don't recommend the gel glue for mounting troops on bases - metal, plastic, wood, etc. The miniatures seem ready to come loose with very little handling.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Warlord Games: Early Imperial Marines

Warlord Games has announced the release of EIR marines, complete with chain mail, bronze helmets, cloaks, and hexagonal shields. It appears these gentlemen are cast in metal. I have to say I like the looks of these guys. While I haven't shopped for EIR marines in awhile  - I bought some 15mm Essex nearly 20 years ago - and I think they wore shapeless leather (bronze??) armor -  these guys are nice enough to make me want to jump ahead and get into Early Imperial Roman small battle games mentioned previously.

Little Big Men Studios has created a very cool naval theme shield transfer of a triton and fish-creature (sample pictured right), and Warlord offers these as well.

Go to the Warlord site to see the announcement here.  If you want to see more pics of these fellows, then I recommend you check out Dr. Phil Hendry's site and check out this page. He does a great job with these guys.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

FOW Project: US Heavy Support

I will try to catch up on my FOW projects a little over the three-day weekend. I plan to focus on my US 81mm mortars and heavy machine guns. For the most part, I really don't like assembling and basing these kinds of units. For me, working with fiddly bits turn quite annoying, although I think it has given rise to some creative thinking (at least for me). 

With the mortars, I just decided to put down a layer of wood glue to prop up the mortar tube/base and the - well, the name escapes me now - bit for adjusting angle of fire. Afterward, I glued the pieces together, although I can see that they did not all necessary join where they ought to. Still, they are one piece, upright, and my mistakes can be hidden with a little lichen. 

The machine guns (not pictured) turned out easier than I thought. The little hand drill really did the trick for placing the gun on the tripod/figure base. Seems like I couldn't find enough loaders for my gunners (I imagine they will show up in a group of German grenadiers at some later point in time), so I may have to do some more illusions with other crewmen and lichen. More on my glorious misadventures later.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wargames Illustrated 278 (A Short Review)

I finally got my hands on WI 278. I was quite pleased with it. As mentioned in the short preview post some time back, the 'Sengoku Showdown' makes for good - and exciting - reading.

First off, I do want to thank Dan and Dave for making 'Wargaming The Armies of Carthage' look so good and for some solid editorial guidance. I hope to do some more of these kinds of articles for popular armies of the ancient world. If you are familiar with either of the Roman Army wargaming articles, expect to see more emphasis on gaming with this one. 

'Legends of the Rising Sun' was pretty cool. The concept is based on Warhammer Historicals' 'Legends of the West' and 'Legends of the High Seas', but in medieval Japan. Warbands/gangs of samurai, monks, ninjas, and others can duke it out. It looks like an exciting game, and here is some online bits for the game at the WI site: rules and an article on 17th Century street gangs of Japan.

There is also a great article on scratch-building North African desert village buildings. 

Another favorite piece is by Barry Hilton, giving his report on Historicon and discussing the differences between the US and UK historical gaming scenes. I believe he nailed the American attitude towards gaming conventions on the head. 

I haven't had a chance to read the 'Fleet of Battle' rules in the magazine yet, but it is one of the main draws for me. A good set of naval rules is just about required if you want to game the First Punic War. I may have to pull out my ancient copy of Hasbro's Conquest of Empire and see if I can draft its galleys into service. 

OK - there's more, but I haven't fully explored the whole issue yet. Even so, I'd call this issue a winner.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crossfire by Arty Conliffe

I enjoyed playing Arty Conliffe's Crossfire game of World War II company-level combat back in the 90s. It had some interesting mechanics - it used no measurements (all weapon fire was assumed to be able to reach across the table) and no regular turn-based movement. The game's ebb and flow centered on whether or not the phasing player's troops could continue successful actions, such as moving without getting pinned or destroyed or firing weapons until missing. 

However, I ended up spending my WWII gaming time with Easy Eight's Battleground World War II, and let this game sit on the wayside. Once I finish my US support troops for FOW, I think I will draft them for a game of Crossfire now and then. 

According to the Crossfire website, a new or revised edition is in the works. It looks like it will address (among other things) the game's one true let-down: vehicle combat. Whereas all the infantry stands represented individual squads, heavy weapons, and commanders, the vehicle models represented about 5 vehicles. Visually, this just seemed awkward. From a gaming perspective - well, it just seemed wrong and out of balance.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

FOW Project: 251/9 Cs & Flakpanzers

Back in December I got a chance to do a little work on my rather extended FOW Summer Project. The 251/9Cs are about ready for action. I need to add a crewman or commander or something to at least one of the vehicles. 

The Flakpanzers need a bit more work. I have done some work on the gun mount - which I still think is missing part of a gun shield, but I think I can draft a piece of thin card for the job. The most significant thing I did is get a nice basecoat on the AA vehicles. I started with Testors' 'Africa Mustard' spray paint - and it looks very much like a spicy brown mustard. On top of that I sprayed that last bit of Tamiya (can't recall the actual name, but looked like a good dunkengelb to me), and it really seemed to work well.  

Recently, I finally made the plunge to build my US support platoons - HMGs and 81mm mortars. More on them in a later blog.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

More Memoir 44 for The Great War: Middle East

HaT's box art for WWI Turkish Infantry
In the last blog of tweaks for converting Memoir 44 rules into a  World War I game, I should have mentioned something rather obvious - the need for small markers (chits, dice, etc) to show unit suppression. The concept of suppression is about the only thing that is outside of normal gameplay for Memoir 44.

Now onto today's subject of differentiating between British/Commonwealth and Ottoman Turkish forces using Great War Memoir.

I think the basic premise is to assume that an infantry unit represents a company or two, meaning a battalion should have 1-4 units, with 2-3 seeming most likely.

The Turks 
I would recommend 2 units of 5 figures to represent a Turk battalion for the early war period, when they employed massed attacks. They are a little more hardy with 5 figures, but they lack maneuverability. 

I think the Turks also should get to re-roll 1 miss in close combat. This could represent their numbers and their front-rank bomb-throwers. 

The British
I would give the British battalions 3 units of 4 figures. 

British Regulars might should merit a chance to re-roll 1 miss in ranged combat, based on their high marksmanship and their Short Magazine Lee-Enfields. I would probably not assign this bonus to the Territorials equipped with the older, longer Lee-Enfields, nor to untried New Army units. 

The ANZACs ought to be tough, but not complete supermen. I'd say they might rate the same as Turks in close combat.

The French
What about the French and their colonial troops? Well, I have a few thoughts on them as well and will review them later on the blog. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Memoir 44 for The Great War

I've been researching Britain's 'Other Theaters' of the Great War recently, especially in the Middle East. Along with the period itself, I have been researching some popular World War I games and working on ideas for converting other rules.

I think Memoir 44 has some potential here, especially if the scenario design goes beyond breaking the enemy army. Objectives and uneven casualty scoring should go a ways toward encouraging offensive and defensive play (although even the defender needs some maneuver options - ie. reserves, counter attacks, etc.).

So, here's some ideas I that I will playtest - some are applicable to the early war (1914-1915), some are particular to British/Commonwealth and Ottoman forces.  

Machine Guns: 
Typically a battalion asset (ie a section of 2-4 guns to support four rifle companies). I'm thinking 3 attack dice with rifle range or rifle range +1 hex. Machine guns get a free attack anytime a card specifically activated their section of the battlefield (Left, Center, or Right) - ie. they don't count toward units activated per the command card. They may receive orders applicable to artillery (there may be some artillery cards that just won't work with this). Machine gun sections should have two hits. I would put them under the same kind of movement/attack restrictions of artillery units, except in regards to line of sight (LOS).

Dice Results:

Grenade: Equals suppression, which requires the owning player to treat the suppressed unit as two units for the purpose of activating. Suppressed units cannot move and they may only have one attack dice. Grenades  equal hits if unit is already suppressed. 

Flag (Retreat): Retreats supersede suppression. If an infantry unit takes a flag (retreat), a grenade (suppression), and a hit, resolve as follows: remove one figure for hit; retreat unit one space; unit suppressed. 

Tank: Tank results equal well-placed bombardments or infiltrations that nullify terrain advantages for that attack roll. No actual damage to the defending unit, but this will help out when the terrain allows the defender to ignore some results. Not much help if the terrain only reduces the number of attack dice.  

I will do particulars for the British/Commonwealth and Ottoman troops in a following blog. I'll say right here that these two opponents should not play interchangeably in the game - some tweaks to dice results and card play should capture some of the early war potential for these armies.