Saturday, 26 October 2013

Envelopment - Run through the town

Today's game used the scenario Envelopment.  This means the attacker has to get off the defender's edge or at least in his edge of the board.  The Defender has to kill as many of the attacker as possible.
We used the opportunity to use a lot of our buildings.
The board - A not so little village
Our War Memorial was able to be used in pride of place in the village crossroads.
A good place for a memorial
The Germans elected to attack and rolled to inflict a preparatory bombardment.  All they needed was a 2 or more.
A preparatory bombardment - not today.
Early on the British wanted to fire at a German unit. There was doubt as to whether the units had line of sight. "Bring out the periscope" was called.
Nope.  Can't see me. Shoot someone else.
The game proceeded very quickly with some amazing dice rolls by the Germans. On the German's left flank an undamaged squad was able to run to within one run move from the table edge.  The British HQ was hiding behind the houses on an Ambush order and fired, only inflicting one pin.  This meant the German squad had to roll to pass their orders.
Charge! No. Flee!
On the German right flank things went much better for the attackers. The Hetzer destroyed the Cromwell and the 6 pounder AT gun missed again. Then, just like last week, the AT gun came under close combat assault.
It's just not their day
Germans ended up winning overwhelmingly.  But both players enjoyed the game and learned more tactics.  Looking back, a couple of times the sub-battles could have gone either way.  But today was not the British day.
As usual, we had more Commando Comic Moments.

Bolt Action and Commando War Comics

Important Research Material
I recently realised that some of the young lads that we were teaching how to wargame were lacking in some important background information.
They had already passed the first test.  They could make proper gun and explosion sounds.  No "Bang Bang Pew Pew"s here thank you very much. But I was wondering why my boys seemed a step ahead in the story department until we asked the question, "Have you guys read any war comics?"
The blank looks told us all we needed to know. It was time for some education.
Bolt Action rules have the definite flavour of a Commando War Comic. With the combination of the randomised elements caused by bad dice rolling and style of play encouraged by he use of pins and unit activation dice, every game seemed to have many 'Commando Comic Moments".  These are those moments in a game crying out for word balloons to get the full effect.

A Commando Comic Moment
We promptly searched in our home library and gathered up our collection of war comics.  Now this is some homework the boys don't mind doing at all.

On a whim, I went online and discovered you can now subscribe to Command Comics online and for 4.99GBP a month (about $8.50 Australian) and get 8 comics a month.  These are readable online or on your iPhone or iPad.  That's pretty good value for just over $1 a comic. And they won't get destroyed by the younger children.
The only downside is that the software is not very efficient.  It works out at around 90mb a comic, which mean over 700mb downloads a month.

Being in a philosophical mind, I had a discussion with my wife about what makes the Commando Comics special. There used to be a number of companies that made war comics, but the Commando comics were always preferred.  The stories do not glorify war.  Sure, they are centred around war and have lots of explosions, dead guys and hardship.  But that is not the focus of the stories - it is more the background to the real story. The central plot to the stories tend to revolve around the benefits of truth, bravery, resolve, trustworthiness, honesty, friendship and good humour.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

All in the family

Can you make a dice bag? With a smile!
The good thing about miniatures wargaming is that not only do you have the thrill of victory and agony of defeat in battle during a game, but you can also express your creative side with scenery, painting and resources.
For us this means there is enough interest to go around the family.
Each of us has differing levels of interest in the various aspects of the hobby. My lovely wife and daughter have been helping in building all the laser cut buildings we have been fortunate to obtain.
After visiting MOAB I realised that a dice bag worked better than a cup.  I had suspected that a cup was not optimum when our younger children help by pulling dice. In one game Peter had about 5 dice in a row.  Looking over at my 6 year old son, I realised he thought his intervention was helpful to Peter.  Now we have a couple of fantastic lined bags with pull strings to store the dice as well as use during games.

It takes two to paint a bridge and another to make a church.
The Pegasus Bridge model was so big it was a family affair building and painting it.  My wife and I spent a couple of evenings gluing it together, then James and I spent over a spray can's worth of paint undercoating it and the Peter and I painted the finishing touches.  In the background of the photo James is painting a marvellous laser cut church we have built.  Once we have put in all the fine touches we will have a new blog pot.
We will soon put up another post showing the magnificent Ground Hotel Complex by 4Ground.

And the other good thing about drawing in so much of the family?  We get to take over the kitchen table without too much fuss!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Road to Cancon I - Background

You gotta love a cool hat!
I have been involved in wargaming since I was 12 and was hooked in a public participation WWII game using "Operation Warboard" rules. When I was involved in a games club in Melbourne we focussed regularly on "Open Days" where we only had public participation games.  This is how our club grew quickly from 20 or so members to 100.
My wargaming lessened as work and young family and moving interstate intervened.  But as my boys became old enough I visited Cancon to participate in the demo games and catch up with old acquaintances.
Some of the games are really good, focussing on what a new player needs.
But many demo games - while looking great - did not attract many new gamers.  They typically required too high a commitment from a visitor in terms of time and rule knowledge.
Late last year we discovered Bolt Action. There wasn't a demo game for the rules at Cancon, but I was able to pick up a copy of the rules.  In my research about the rules I noticed that the designers had a number of sources they used for inspiration - including Commando comics, Hogans Heroes, and lots of war movies. That reflects in the way the game plays and was perfect for a new gamer.
Now we had the game we wanted to use in a Public Participation Game.
I wanted to run a game and apply all the best practices to make this a great introduction for new players and be fun for participants and players and spectators.
We had a year to plan so it was time to begin...

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Objective - Now Stop Fighting, It's Time for Dinner.

Now stop fighting.  It's time for dinner.
Our third objective is entitled "Now Stop Fighting. It's time for dinner".
My father is a retired butcher and so we created this one in memory of his time as a great butcher.  The figure is a Warlord Games British infantryman with a paper apron.  The knife is from the plastic US kit and the sharpening steel is a cut down plastic entrenching spade.
The barrels are from Renedra barrels, with the top one getting a spigot made from a cut down pistol. We even made a knife pouch on his side filled with two other knives.
The pig and goose are from the same farm animals set we have already been having so much fun with in the War Memorial and The Tardis.
It's great fun getting to do modelling, and then getting to use them in games.

Battle for Pegasus Bridge - by close assault!

Today we had a great game of Bolt Action.
It was a "Point Defence" mission which involves the battle over three objectives held by the defender. If the attacker holds 2 or 3 objectives he wins, 1 and it is a draw, none and it is a defender win.
The board used the freshly completed Pegasus Bridge as our centre piece, splitting the board in two with the bridge forming a link across the board.
Objective 1 - the Mysterious Blue Box
Objective 2 - Dinner time
Objective 3 - The Memorial
The board - with spectators
The preparatory bombardment by the British attackers was very successful, damaging the Hetzer which  just passed morale to stay in the game.
Turn one saw the British move their 6 pounder onto the board directly in front of the Hetzer.  He wanted a gun duel.
One on One - be careful what you wish for.
In turn two the British fired first only needing a 3 to hit.  They rolled a 2. Missed!
The German with 3 ins passed morale and was just in range for a frontal assault.
Um. Oops. Let's get out of here!
This left the Hetzer on top of scrap metal at the base of the British side of the board.
That meant the PIAT could just pop in from Reserve and have a very close shot.
Take that!
Immobilised. Soon to be destroyed next turn. Meanwhile a squad from each side as having a firefight across Pegasus Bridge.
Bang. Bang. Pin here. Pin there.
 On the other flank the Cromwell saw how well the Hetzer frontal assault worked so did the same - straight at the squad hiding behind a wall.  Down went both walls and the Germans, passing morale, sidestepped the racing tank.
Phew.  That was close.
Next turn, the Cromwell assaulted again - In reverse!  Same result.  Germans passed morale and once the Cromwell went passed decided to hide around the house.
"Stay still I say!" yelled the Cromwell commander.
Turn four had the British move on a squad from their left flank for a quick pounce on the Blue Box.
The Germans charged and wiped them out to a man.
"You Vill not Haf our Blue Box!"
Turn five saw more close assaults.  First the Germans failed morale and went Down.  "Woohoo!" yelled the British and did a frontal assault around the barriers.
Get out of our way!
The British prevailed and were only one move away from the objective!
Turn 6 and the British squad survived some gun fire, passed morale and captured the Dinner objective.
"Welcome to dinner, boys"
The British also charged and captured the War Memorial.  One squad counter charged and died.  The HQ squad charged and died.  The final squad in the house charged - and won!  The War memorial was recovered for Germany.
There are less of us but we still have this objective.
Phew!  A game that changed several times during the battle. And as always, left players and spectators with stories to tell.

The next Objective - a strange blue box

So long as it stays in one place ...
In our mission to create objectives we have our second: A Mysterious Blue Box one may think resembles a Tardis.
We purchased the "Police Phone Box" from eBay.
Painting was easy - blue. With a little lighter for the windows and yellow for the top light.
The we tracked down the front sign and top sgns from the Internet and printed them down to size.
The "Tardis Parking Only" sign was also an image search.
The pole is a toothpick, the bottle taken from a Bolt ACtion Russian Molotov Cocktail and the cat is part of a set of farm animals by Preiser (Miniature Figurine Set 65326).
All up it works pretty well.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Line of sight solution - a Periscope!

Can I see the enemy?
On the tabletop there is always the challenge of "Line Of Sight".  Even though you, the player with such a height advantage, can see all the figures on the table, the little men doing your will (mostly) don't have the same view.
Often this is solved by dropping yourself down to table top level, squinting and saying, "Oh yeah.  I can see him." (which is mostly true)
But what happens if there is terrain in the way?
That is why we have created our own periscope.

Materials Required:
Two mirrors cut into rectangles 45mm x 75mm.
(We did this with a cheap mirror from the thrift store and a cheap glass cutter.)
Some thicker cardboard
(We went to a picture framing store and asked them what they did with all their used matt boards. Once we explained what we wanted them for - modelling and wargaming - they gave us a huge pile.)
PVA glue to keep it all together.
Yep. There he is behind the building. Fire!
The building plans we have created.

1. Print out the plans on plain paper. Although the plans are for A4, they will also work fine on US Letter - just avoid scaling.
2. Trim down the print out and then glue the sheets to the cardboard.  let dry as it is easier to cut and trim when the PVA has dried and stiffened the paper and cardboard.
3. Cut out all the pieces - basically trim away the grey parts.
4. Score along the dotted lines.  You should use a knife to cut about half way through the cardboard, This allows an easier fold while providing the strength of the cardboard for the join.
5. Fold over the mirror supports (C). These glue right onto the back of their adjoining side.  Ensure the bottom sides are the same to make sure the angles remain at 45 degrees.
6. Glue mirror supports (D) to the bottom of the long sides, making the long edges of the triangles parallel.  Think about how light travels between mirrors and it will make sense.
7. Glue the tabs (A) and (B) to make the box.  Make sure the bottoms line up and the box is square.
8. On one end, glue the mirror onto the supports.  Then glue the base support tabs onto the outside of the box.  Do the rear and the sides.  This leave the opening right under the mirror.  The bases provide support for the box as well as protection for the mirror and questing fingers away from the mirror edges. Remember we want simulated blood on the battlefield, not the real stuff!
9. Do the top end the same way.
10. Check that the mirrors are parallel by testing the periscope. Look in the top bit and if the bottom view is horizontal and not on a lean, you have done it.
11. For additional strength we used some Duct Tape on the edges.

There you have it.  Not only will a periscope solve many line of sight issues, it also is pretty nifty seeing things from the same level as your fighting guys.  For demonstration games, spectators love going around using the periscope to get the soldier's eye view.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Creating City Cobblestone Roads

Some of our city road tiles
We wanted some good city cobblestone roads to go with our marvellous buildings. After much searching I discovered Dave Graffam Models' selection of paper scenery, available from The Wargame Vault.  At $2.95 (USD) this is a very good price for the designs.  The kit is in the form of a PDF and uses Layers to have varying road and sidewalks (footpaths).  Mac users will need to download Adobe PDF Reader to see and select the various layers.
Knowing how wargaming scenery needs to be moved around and manhandled a lot, I did not want to just print these out onto cardboard.
So we purchased some 3mm MDF board and cut 6" (15cm) squares.  Then I printed out the tiles I wanted and trimmed off the sidewalks.  The sidewalks were glued to some thick cardboard (spare framing matt boards).  The road was glued to the MDF square and the cardboard thickened sidewalks to the edges.  This provided a good looking city street system with lots of options.
This is very easy to create, is robust and looks great.

Update:  At Cancon one fellow used this technique but went one better.  He painted the roads with varnish which made them more durable.  A Satin or Matt varnish looks great.
Also, if you want to see the roads in action, go here: Cancon Review Day One.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Demolition - Get the Pig

Last Monday we had another Bolt Action training game, testing out our ability to run a demo game for a person completely new to miniature wargaming.  Our volunteer had played a number of computer games over the years and was willing to give this whole "wargaming thing" a go.

The scenario was "Demolition".  This means each player must get a unit to the other side's base while defending his own base.  If his unit touches the base it is destroyed.
The board was set around the Stone Hotel from 4Ground and some other 4Ground Terrace Houses as well as fields made from a door mat and home made roads.
The forces were the Bolt Action Starter armies for Germany and Britain. Our volunteer played the Germans and a relatively new player was British.
Turn 1 - the spot where artillery hoped to fall was placed by the British.
The British decided to retain quite a number of units off the board for use later in an enflanking move.  Meanwhile he moved on a number of units to protect his base while the German moved all his troops on board.
Pinning all round
The artillery came down and pinned a german infantry squad terribly (5 pins) while lots of German units fired at the British squad directly facing them, killing and pinning them well.
The British come rushing in from their left flank and the German squad charges.
On turn 3 the British reserves burst on to the scene on the German right flank and started a charge direct to the German camp.  The PAK 40 quickly pivoted, ready to fire on the Cromwell next turn.
The Hetzer needed to make an order roll and rolled 12 - a FUBAR!  Luckily he didn't fire at the nearest squad, but had to run to the edge of the board to recover.  Meanwhile the British squad was down to 2 men and the Germans made an assault, wiping them out.
The Cromwell is 37 inches away - 2 turns plus 1 inch away from victory.
If the British were not stopped they were very close to victory.
The eager British player sizing up victory with onlooker providing support.
The German squad on the other side of the wall made an Assault on the cromwell.  Failed to kill but they did give the Cromwell tank a pin.  The Pak 40 missed.
Meanwhile, the German survived hits by a Vickers from the side, passed the order test and charged the British medium mortar.  The mortar was destroyed and the reorganisation move towards the 6 pounder AT gun meant next turn the Germans may be able to take the Command Post.
The Pak 40 finally hit and killed the Cromwell.
The British charge was stopped by a very big shell from the Pak 40.  The infantry that had accompanied the Cromwell were killed or pinned to a stop by the infantry units.
It's Roast Pig and Duck for dinner tonight!
The Germans passed their orders test, survived the 6 pounder fire and Assaulted the 6 Pounder gun crew, winning easily, The reorganisation move allowed the squad to make it to the British Command Post - a fine pig and duck.
Game over on turn 6 and well enjoyed by both players and spectators.

What did we learn?
1. Proper Order Dice which have the order names on each side work better than having to remember the order 1 through 6.
2. Flags to indicate the objectives or command posts would work better.
3. The unit cards and Bolt Action Play Sheet work very well.
4. Painted troops and good looking boards make the game better.

The result?
The new player called later in the day and wanted to play another game.  He also chatted with another fellow in the village who is interested in giving the game a go.  Bolt Action succeeded again in making a story out of a battle with both players and spectators regaling each other with events of the game.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Lest We Forget - Objectives

Lest We Forget
An important part of any game is objectives and good scenery.
Today I decided to combine both and create a War Memorial.
We used the Cancon 2013 Figurine as the figure on top of a Games Workshop Mines of Moria set bit of scenery as the base.
A spare duck was added to give some colour (we didn't have any pigeons) and I wanted to create an appropriate plaque.  I started making up some names and then had a good thought - check out the Australian Victoria Cross recipients.  Sure enough, I found a list of all of the Australians who were awarded a Victoria Cross during World War One and put them into my desktop publishing program (Apple Pages).  They all fit nicely onto 3 "plaques" and printing them "6 to a page" made the size just right.
If you get up REALLY close, you can actually read all the names.

James created the wreath using two strands of thin wire with a third wire wrapping around the others.  Then add glue, dip in fake grass and add some coloured "flowers" and "Ta Da" - a wreath.
All up I am pretty pleased with how it went.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Pegasus Bridge - Cafe and Bunker

We have built the Cafe Gondree and the bunker.  The bunker was easy to build and the roof can be removed so you can place men inside.  When I asked Peter for some German soldiers to put in the bunker he came back with a Pak40 and a grin, "This is better, Dad."  He was right.
Peek-a-boo. I see you.
When we looked at the pictures of the Cafe we were very concerned it might be a resin kit.  The photos all had the windows solid and we couldn't see much evidence the inside was accessible. It was great to open the box and see that the Cafe is a real wargaming building after all. You can remove the roof and the middle floor comes out too.  Plenty of figures can be placed inside with lots of windows from which to fire.  And once it is painted it should look very nice. And with so many windows there is a lot of firepower!
Lots of places to hide and shoot.
Lift the roof and lift the floor. Multi level goodness.
It was interesting building Sarissa Precision buildings after so many 4Ground kits. There is a different concept behind the kits but the end result is equally good.  There are much more tabs and holes in which parts connect and there is use of multiple sheets to build strength into the buildings.  These buildings are designed to survive wargaming.  As their slogan goes, "Part of the game, not of the table".

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Pegasus Bridge set arrived today

Time to start building!
Today we received a lovely package - the Pegasus Bridge Battle Set from Warlord Games.

The basic set includes the Lasercut buildings of Pegasus Bridge, Cafe Gondree and a pillbox.  Then there is the resin Gun Position, metal commandoes, metal German MG42 team and AT gun that goes into the gun position.
Also included is a the Pegasus Bridge Scenario Booklet.  This is an excellent booklet detailing the forces and 3 scenarios to play on 4 x 6 boards.  Interestingly, none of the scenarios actually use the whole bridge.
Scenario 1 is the initial attack when the commandoes attempt the capture of the Eastern end of the Bridge.
Scenario 2 is the assault to capture the Western end of the bridge.
Scenario 3 is the German counter attack.

We will do some experimenting and keep you informed as to progress.  Perhaps we could do a two table game with a gap between tables spanned by the bridge?  Hmmmmm.

Meanwhile Peter has already built 5 of the plastic commandoes that are part of the Collector's edition.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A Sample Game using Unit Cards

We are preparing to use only the Starter Armies as these are perfect to begin playing games in Bolt Action, learning how to use a good variety of unit types.  Today we ran a test game to show the Unit Cards in action.
The Scenario was “Top Secret”.  Our objective was a monk who had secret information both sides needed.
The Monk with the Secrets.
Before the game all the units of each side were lined up with their relevant unit cards.
Start your engines ...

As units come on the board we placed the unit cards at the edge of the board so they were handy to check when firing or moving each unit.
The Monk is nervously watching everyone coming his way.

At this point the monk was minding his own business but must have been getting nervous at all the action coming his way.  The forest was full of British infantry and the farmhouse was attracting the Germans.
Turn 3 and the British attempted a grab of the Monk.  But it was very early in the move, just asking for reaction from the Germans.
Please come along quietly, Father.

It didn't take long before the Germans reacted.  By the end of the turn the squad was down to 5 men.
Sarge, I don't think they want us to take him.
By the end of turn 4, the monk was on his own again.
Where did everyone go?

But the Germans were close.
Turn 5 the Germans made the grab.
Father, you are wanted for questioning...

They ended up being wiped out and at the end of turn the Monk was back on his own.
Turn 6 the British made another go.  If there was a turn 7, they would have tried the baton relay pass of the Monk from unit to unit.  But the dice determined game's end at turn 6.
The Monk feeling a little lonely after so many fleeting friends

In the course of the whole game, using the playsheet and the unit cards, there was no referring to the rule book at all. Success!
And the boys traded war stories over what worked and what didn't for their troops. Success!


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