Friday, September 28, 2007

Da Big Fight

Before packing the Orks into storage for the winter, myself and Chris got a properly big game together. 2000 points a side and a Sunday afternoon to see it through.

This would also be my last chance to play my army under the current list, latest news being that the new Ork list (and rather good looking models) is released in January 2008.

My force was centred round two large Slugga Boyz mobs and an 'Ard Boyz mob. Supported by Shoota Boyz, a small group of Kommandos, a group of Trukk Boyz and a scraping og Grots. Being me, their were lots of vehicles in support. A Battlewagon, Leman Russ, Tracked Trukk, three buggies and six bikers.

Chris surprised me by bringing Tau, and army great on shooting, but rotten in combat. This was typified by the unit of pathfinders in the centre, who were killed in melee by the Grots! However as long as they could keep me at arms reach they were a deadly enemy. My vehicles were selected to face Marines and high armour, which works here too, but 'Orks is never lucky wiv da shooties'; and so was often the case. My Battlewagon was blown up first hit having fired and failed to do damage only once with it's new ZZap gun.

The Leman Russ fared little better in real terms, failing to penetrate armour on it's one good hit.

Orks en-masse swarm the ruins. If I'd had the figures, the sensible route to victory would have been 2000 points worth of Slugga's and Grots, easily the best two units in my army...

The bikers tear through the dust towards the enemy. Chris is rightly afraid of these, their ability to move 12 inches, fire upto 18 strength 5 shots on rerolls, then assault another 6 inches and roll again, without morale to worry about and an autosave makes them a real threat to light forces. As Chris fought a fighting withdrawal throughout the game, he was just able to deal with these before they smashed into him, on the way they served to distract the enemy a great deal.

The Ork buggies on the opposite flank. The one in the centre did something remarkable, it hit a target! In maybe a dozen games it has to my knowledge never hit anything before. Armed with a Kustom Mega Blaster, it has a st7 attack with an armour penetration big enough to give most troops no save; unfortunately it backs that up with needing a 5 or 6 to hit, no rerolls. And being a buggy it tends to blow up first hit too.

This game it did me proud though, detonating a globe of pure energy in a recently arrived unit of Stealth suits, blowing all four to pieces!

In the foreground a destroyed Battlewagon, is left behind by its' Big Mek and some 'Ard Boyz. In the distance is the Ork Fortress; cunningly built of cardboard! Ork models are great, you can throw away the rulers when you are building them.

The most recent addition to my force is a modification of one of my models to allow it to field as a multi role vehicle. The base of this normally serves as an Ork tank (A 'Blitzwagen', built using the old vehicle design rules). Early on I'd found the chassis could lock sliding parts into itself above the engine deck. I exploited this by fitting different superstructures, so it can operate as a Trukk (as here) or an Artillery piece/Big Gun). Here Trukk Boyz await their opportunity. Trukk Boyz are often good value, a unit that can in effect do a 20 inch assault turn move (12" + 2" to dismount +6" assault) can usually get stuck in straight away; 40 attack dice on the charge is enough to give any enemy a headache too! These Boyz set to Chris' Kroot.

Yet with several positives, I wasn't able to pull a win from the game. The Tau kept pulling back and making good use of their superior firepower. In the end he had few ground troops left but an almost complete complement of vehicles, which on his last turn spat out devastating fire - destroying my Bikers, Trukk and Leman Russ. The few Ork Boyz left couldn't do enough.

An excellent game that hung in the balance all the way; but Chis won it by about 300 points in the end.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Harrogate AK47

And I won't surprise you with the ending but see if you can guess!

Firstly some photo's of Patrick's dictatorship forces; pretty nicely painted, and with a good line in accessories and markers. My force was essentially the same as the UN force I fielded last week, so you can see the army in an earlier post.

Notice the rather neat technicals and the air support marker.

The game itself was based round a UN occupied airbase, under attack by the local generals forces. In the event my mercenaries proved wholly unreliable, never appearing. As a result the UN relied on their own troops and the local police forces. Meanwhile nearly all the dictatorship units appeared at the start, including 6 armoured cars!

The UN had to shelter in the airbase for the whole game. Although their APC's were destroyed the infantry were able to keep control of the base. UN armoured cars arrived in support, but were thoroughly luckless, being destroyed in short order.

Elsewhere the other armoured cars and infantry slowly advanced on a second objective and the sheltering Police forces. The Police put up a stiff fight but had not the range to really affect the enemy.

in the end it was a clear defeat for the UN though the score reflected my bad luck more than a military masterstroke for the dictatorship. Had I been able to destroy or rout just one unit with the same losses I suffered it would have been a draw.

They play several elements of the rules differently to how I'm used, how I understood them to be intended at Harrogate. They allow units to split fire (I disapprove) and habitually pre-measure. (Which unless rules specifically state is permitted, I never allow) . Also ordinarily the only count stands that move in a unit as moving rather than the whole force. I think that last one misrepresents the intent of the rules, especially around militia troops. But as I'd happily deferred on the other points, Patrick honourably conceded this 'rule'.

Overall, like all games of AK47, it was good fun, one enjoys trying to minimise the defeat in this game, almost as much as maximising a victory!

Elsewhere in the club it was all World War Two. Most members being involved in a aerial dogfight game, whilst three others set up a big 8x6 foot table for a 28mm Pacific game. I snapped a few shots of the workmanlike figures and terrain:

So I'm back to Harrogate in four weeks, for a game of Warhammer Ancients. I need to take a 'Shieldwall' army, not sure whether to go with predictable Vikings or trickier Franks. Hmmm...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Clearing the Clutter

Is there any wargamer in the world who doesn't start more projects than he can finish?

I imagine there are a few sainted individuals who can; and I imagine like many saints; they wind up crucified by the many sinners. Jealous of their restraint or magical ability to only work on one project at a time, or to only 'buy' painted models.

I'm a bad case of the sinner on this front, prone to starting too many periods, too many games. For reasons that will become apparent in time on the blog (ooh, mysterious) though; I'm really having to put a stop to that. I'm not giving up the hobby, that would be impossible (as the wife accepts!) I must however rationalise.

One essential is finishing all the projects on the painting table.

This shot flatters to deceive, no honestly it does; you can't see the 15 Thracians (last of the Spartans, thank the gods) and a 1:2400 scale commission ship I'm scratch building in this. What it does show is a mass of half finished odds and ends, that were bought or even started from stock in a brief moment of enthusiasm.

Worst offender here is the Italian Anti-Tank gun, which has been in that state for 2 years. Most recent addition to the loitering pile is the undercoated penitent. There are figures for at least seven different games lying around on there.

However it was worse earlier this week. Over the weekend I shifted a couple of German Anti-Aircraft guns that had sat there for over 18 months. The Spartans are nearly finished, and the goblins are fast tracked for the next day or two. They are simple basecoat and wash jobs.

I need to get this lot shot in the next month, so I can address other matters; but to achieve that I need to be strict with myself. no distractions!. Stay tuned to see what gets painted, and what ends up 'Back in the Box'...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Leeds AK47

Yesterday was a game of AK47 Republic, on of a couple over the next few weeks. I opted to try an army from the supplement - A corporate army, utilising my UN models. My force was as can be seen below:

A company of mechanised UN infantry. A troop of UN armoured cars. A mercenary troop of 'Technicals'. A truck-borne company of Mercenary infantry, and a mixed group of local militia operating captured vehicles (as luck would have it the Political Manoeuvring table gave these chaps two tanks too!)

UN APC's. On the left is a German Fuchs, that I created the master of for QRF 'back in the day'. The right is a converted V100, I modified to the command vehicle variant, adding the raised superstructure, radio gear and HMG.

A Mercenary Technical. Here it's a Peter Pig Unimog and Quad 14.5mm AA mated together with a little chopping of the AA trailer to fit. Simple but very effective.

The Militia operate a captured Armoured car. This was first painted in the standard pattern of the donor force; then over painted with a haphazard paint scheme and lots of propaganda slogans. Oh, and the turret is scratch built too!

Anyway, what of the game. My opponent (Chris once again) fielded a Dictatorship, roughly along these lines:

Unarmed APC's carrying Regular infantry and Recoiless rifles. Regular tanks. Professional armoured cars. A regular battery on truck borne mortars. Militia, with a couple of HMGs and not much else.

The game started well for me, as I had the better initial composition of forces, all motorised thanks to being part of a Corporate force. I was able to advance on two objectives and initially push the enemy back.
In convoy...
The Ntumtulanders withdraw...

UN forces occupy the heights above the river. In the distance though the tide is turning; against the normal run of play the defending Ntumtu reserves turned up before the UN backed forces. The UN would suffer at the hands of the tanks and Armoured cars. This stalled my progress.

A Battle over the ford developed between my Technicals and the various forces of armoured cars. It wouldn't be resolved until the very last turn, when two of my units were finished off. Elsewhere the tanks advance along the river's edge ,trying to avoid RPG and infantry fire from the heights. The UN called in Air cover but to no avail.
Further back at the village, a late flanking attack by the UN allied militias was beaten off in a close quarters engagement that cost both sides their best local troops, but left the Ntumtulander in control of the village .
The UN airstrikes go in. The model is a very old Heller 1:100 Super Mystere kit.
A lovely little model, I converted so it can sit either on a flying stand or on it's (separate) landing gear.

In the End Chris and the Ntumtulanders won by 91 points to 63. It was all down to the last turn, Had I lost one unit less I might have even won, it would've certainly been closer.
Next Thursday it's more of the same, I think I may use the Corporate army again...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Adding to War at Sea in a BIG way!

One obvious short coming of the Axis and Allies - War at Sea game is the limited range of ships within it. There are 64 models in the set, but that covers seven forces and includes aircraft, auxiliaries and submarines. Some nations fair well - unsurprisingly the USA and Japan, given the American heritage of the game. But others, particularly the minor powers, get only a handful of ships. This can lead to inflexible, or unhistorical play. Something I rapidly wanted to expand upon.

As I've already shown on this blog, I've added a handful of smaller boats to my own collection; putting my modelling skills to use. But now I wanted to go up a level!

My intention was to make a Cavour class battle ship; I've plumped for these as they were a good size but not as big as the Vittorio Veneto, and because they're Italian (obviously), my favourite underdog from WW2. I researched the details of the ship off the web, from several sources (the link left as well as Regia and Wikipedia), and with the aid of a calculator and ruler scaled down some plans. Once ready, I laid down the hull:

You can see the Bolzano in the background for scale. The Cesare is 10.35cm (4 inches) long. This part took about 10 minutes to measure out the parts and assemble them, 5 more for sanding down the hull.

Stage two, the initial positions for the turret casemates and the supports for the conning tower, along with the funnels:

The funnels are plastic kit sprue, it had the right thickness and approached the profile needed. Therefore minimising shaping work. A good modeller never throws plastic or metal parts away!

Stage three, more details on the conning tower, and disks to support the AA guns are placed:

Stage four; and it's starting to look like a real ship now:

The 6 inch secondary armament is added, the black gun barrels are plastic yard brush bristles (a favourite material of mine, so versatile!). They are superglued in place. the only use of superglue on the model, all the rest is plastic cemented. The rear mast array is added too.

And so it was time to finish her off with the last major details. It seemed logical to do the main guns last; as the turrets were larger I was able to use a hand vice (a tiny drill) to locate the barrels in the turrets. Whilst at it I added the forward mast. AA guns are too small for barrels I feel here, so I just added the shielding.

small details like the anchor points were added too, using plastic card 10 thousandths of an inch (0.3mm) thick.

Virtually the last addition was a canvas covering that seems to always appear in photo's of her fore of the rear mast, over the life boats. That was pretty much that.

The Bolzano returns for scale. At a leisurely pace I think I spent 3 hours on and off working on her. Next was a stat card, for which I pulled some photoshop magic:

Finally, the painted ship. As ever the Cesare is in front of the Bolzano. Ive painted her in a full dazzle pattern camouflage scheme which was begun some time in 1941, and finished in 1942.

The Giulio Cesare had a long and varied career, trading shots with HMS Warspite, and operating actively until fuel shortages consigned her to port in 1942. After the war she was given to Russia as reparations and was eventually destroyed by an explosion in suspicious circumstances in 1955.

Of course, she has yet to sail on my table in anger, but with the addition of this lady of the Mediterranean, and some tiny CR42 Falco fighters, I can now field a 200 point Italian fleet, more than enough to stand against the Royal Navy!

The second set of ships for War at Sea is supposedly due to appear in mid 2008, a long way of, and will only include 30 new models. I for one doubt the Cesare will be amongst the new sculpts, and certainly can't wait that long to expand the game.

Next stop, my home town...