In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Monday, January 29, 2018

4 Cdn Arm Div Bounces the Somme

Inspired by reading the Cinderella Campaign and the dash across France in Sept 1944 plus the table I set up Friday to try out my new buildings, I thought that a Breakthrough scenario would be spiffing good fun. I also haven't had a lot of Shermans out in years. Playing solo I could take my time, enjoy a glass of port and not worry about comments about play balance.

So two platoons of Grenadiers with a platoon of 3 pak40s and a platoon of 3 StuGs are holding the town as a rear guard. For the German company HQ I opted for 2x MG42 teams. Each platoon also had 2 panzerfausts.

The attackers get a company HQ plus 5 platoons. So I took an armoured squadron HQ, 3 troops of tanks and 2 platoons of infantry mounted in carriers and trucks.

Both sides also rolled well for air support, which gave my FW190 and Spitfire a chance to see some table action for the first time since I bought them 10 or 12 years ago!

The Canadians deployed into two elements: Squadron HQ, 1 Troop and a platoon of infantry in 15 CWT trucks advanced up the road past the farm. The other two troops and a platoon of infantry in carriers advanced through the fields on the left. The Germans put some infantry in the hedges and trees in front of the town. An MG42 was positioned in a  building to cover each flank of the town. One pak40 was in the trees covering the Canadian left, but the second was back closer to the town to shoot down the road and the third was dug in near the bridge. The StuGs were held in reserve. In hindsight I should have deployed the infantry in the houses and put the StuGs forward to engage the allied armour right away.

The Canadian plan was to use a rapid advance to get to the bridge before the twelfth turn of the "blank/special" card, which designated the end of the game (or in my version the pioneers blow the bridge) and try not to get bogged down in firefights. The scenario specified "Armoured Bonus Move" card really helped with that, especially in the early turns.

Opening moves. Squadron HQ spots German infantry lining the hedge and deploy into the field, hosing the poor landsers with HE and .30 cal. fire. 1 Troop roars past along the road spraying the German flank.

A FW190 strafes the road, stopping the allied advance.
More air power overhead. A Spitfire buzzes the Germans.

A pak40 reveals itself, brewing up the lead Sherman. 

The pak40 in the woods in front of the town also opens fire, getting a few ineffective hits.

Using an "Armoured Bonus Move" card a troop of Shermans rush forward. Infantry in their carriers swing to the left. But the pak40 card comes up first and brews up the troop leader.

Meanwhile, demonstrating how fire and maneuver works. A section from the right platoon clears the first line of trenches taking 6 POWs .
1 Troop roars forward with another Armoured Bonus Move card, overrunning the second trench line. The Germans hunkered down and tried assaulting the tanks without effect. Once the Canadian infantry came up the combination was able to eliminate the trench line.

The troop leader is positioned just short of crushing the dug in Pak 40. But he got stunned by a shot from a StuG in the town and delayed crushing the gun. But I didn't let the gun fire, having a tank on the edge of the gun pit and all.
Middle troop of Shermans breaks into the German position, flanking the right hand platoon. Fire from both troops shattered the Germans and destroyed the Pak 40.
Canadians deploy from their carriers on the flank of the town, end running the German defense.
Shermans then overrun the shocked Germans at the tree line avenging their dead troop leader. Only 3 Grenadiers  make it back to town.
Flanking platoon sends out its PIAT team to hunt StuGs.
On the Canadian right, there is a traffic jam, with a mass of tanks and one narrow road, down which high velocity 75mm AP shells are screaming. 

The StuGs deployed at the crossroads, firing down each street at advancing Canadian armour. Canadian and German armour spend a few turns banging away at each other.
With the German position crumbling, I decided they should try and save what they could. One StuG followed by a truck towing the last Pak 40 try escaping over the bridge. A Spitfire swoops low, 20mm cannon chattering, pinning the truck in place.

The left hand Canadian platoon dash to the river and engage Germans on the bridge, knocking out the truck with rifle fire. Gun crew dismount as a half section of infantry.

The surviving German infantry had retreated to the central house and spent a few turns having their shock rallied off by the surviving German Big Men. The tank duel was going badly. Shermans are at both ends of the street and getting a mobility kill on the StuG in the picture, causing the crew to bail out. The Canadian Squadron commander and one of his troop tanks advance up the street. The surviving Germans fired off their remaining panzerfausts, causing minor damage and then ran for the bridge.
The last StuG was heavily damaged in a shoot out with a Firefly and tried retreating to the bridge but got brewed up trying to squeeze by the disabled truck and Pak 40.

A German MG42 team had relocated to the green house, firing on the Canadians near the bridge. Seeing this two Shermans poured fire into the lower floor setting the house on fire.

Here you can see the end as Shermans roll up each street, squeezing past the knocked out StuG to round up the fleeing Germans.

The Squadron commander advanced his tank to the bridge, machine gunning the fleeing Germans. Those who survived surrendered.

The Germans were utterly destroyed (except for one damaged StuG) and the Canadians still had 5 turns of the special card to secure the bridge. The Canadians lost 11 KIA plus 3 tanks brewed up (so 26 total dead) and took 13 POWs including 2 Big Men.

Playing solo I could also play this out to it's bitter end, pausing Saturday night for bed and then resuming action on Sunday. I also "live Tweeted " this game which was an interesting way to record events as they unfolded, taking and tweeting an awful lot of pictures with commentary. But it would be annoying if I hadn't been playing solo. I did garner some "retweets " and likes from strangers, which is all very odd. But Twitter is rather ephemeral and strange.

Friday, January 26, 2018

More MDF Goodness

There are MDF kits like Warbases or Xolk; basic unpainted laser cut kits that require a lot of pimping to make them look good. Some like Sarissa are very nice. Then you have the next level up with 4Ground; interesting designs, prepainted and an hour or two with some glue and you've got a building ready to play. Then there's the Gold Standard with Crescent Root Studio; painted, assembled and flocked. Ready to play right out of the box.

I was cruising the Crescent Root Studio website after Christmas and noticed that their 15mm Normandy set was being taken out of production on 1 Jan 2018. I quickly made Mrs. Rabbitman aware of this alarming news. Now last year she had purchased for me for Christmas two of the buildings, which she was quite impressed with, and I put them to immediate use in some Chain of Command battles.

There had been talk of maybe getting me the rest for my birthday, but she decided that a cell phone to help run my Air Cadet Squadron was more pressing at the time. Admittedly, the phone has been a Godsend for coping with the recurring urgent crises that one faces when in command.

But now time was running out! Fortunately Mrs Rabbitman is a sound financial manager so an order was duly authorized and made with one day to spare.  This time I also ordered the destroyed upper stories for each building.

This week, returning home from work at 0215 I checked our mail box to find a lovely big USPS box from Crescent Root Studio containing my three buildings all neatly wrapped and labeled. 

Bed time was delayed as I had to unwrap them, set them up, snap some cellphone pictures and duly Tweet and Facebook their happy arrival.
Notice the clever jigsaw tabs to connect the garage to the main house

I did resist heading off to the Basement of Rabbits to set up a game though. That happened on Friday (side benefit of working 10 hour evening shifts is getting Friday off). So here are some pictures taken with the slightly better camera in my tablet.

Green House

Yellow House

Back of Yellow House and front of Green House across the street

White House with yard

Back of White House. I need a Citröen to park in front of the garage I think!

New houses with shell damaged floors in place
As you can see, they fit well with the 4Ground buildings. I'm also thinking that I need to make bases for my 4Ground to include the walkways and garden walls.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Rogue Stars

Rogue Stars, last year's science fiction skirmish game from Osprey Publishing, arrived in my mailbox Wednesday.

I have decided to give it a try based upon price, availability and some decent reviews on the Lead Adventure Forum. It is very close to role playing, each figure potentially having its own skills, traits, equipment and abilities. But I will preserve, since adventures with a more Firefly or Expanse vibe require a bit more roleplay than a squad level skirmish game like Stargrunt. It also comes as a hard copy. I have found PDF rules (Nordic Weasel Press over at Wargames Vault has some suitable rules too) a problem; they're expensive to print out or a nuisance to try and reference during a game when you're still learning and need to look stuff up.

But a work around for the roleplay detail can be reached by having only one or two easy to keep track of characters, and the rest of a team/squad/crew can be made up of generic identical troopers/minions. Or keep the plucky crew of the independent merchant ship "Anxiety" small enough that each character is easy to keep track of.

It is also finally above 0 this weekend, so I have been able to get some scatter terrain  I made back in November and a bunch of 3-D printed furniture Keith did for me out to the garage to prime.

Rogue Stars is intended for a 3' square playing area. 4 of the boards I plan to lay out my space colony on make for an area roughly 3' square. So I think using 15mm figures and terrain will give a better sense of space and I think more visually interesting layouts.

Four of these boards will be roughly 3x3
OK, I might need to rethink the launch bay. Having such limited access to a quarter of the table might be an issue. But tonight we're going to start some trial games and see how it works.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

First Landing SitRep

I have been poking away at my off world colony, the town of First Landing on Trappist 4. A headache made my afternoon hobby time less than productive but here's where I am:

I'm adding greebles onto three more buildings. Lower right is a set of shops or offices. Middle right is a manufacturer.  I think a cheese factory. Lower left with the two tall yellow cannisters is something big and corporate; Yoyodyne's reactor maybe? Tyrell Corporation's vats of bio-goo? Upper left are four more mill tool cases that will get turned into ore (or something)  storage silos.

Cheese Factory

I've also decided to add my ancient middle eastern buildings to the township as quick set concrete houses etc. I've started doing some removable roof greebles for them to bring them out of the 4th century, but I may just do permanent modifications to moderise them. If I go with permanent modifications then I can have power cables running up the walls etc.

If you look close you'll see some figures for scale.

So after I get these finished and painted I think I just need a security building with interior, a landing pad and some street clutter.

Friday, January 12, 2018


The young lady who coordinates the events for Hotlead launched us a Twitter account to try and reach out to younger gamers.
So I now have a Twitter account since it behooves me to follow what is going on.
My Twitter account will be another gaming channel where I  will post painting updates and perhaps live tweet some games.
Might be a time sink, who knows?
You can follow me @JamesManto4 and you can follow Hotlead @hotleadgaming. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Babylon's Ashes

Just finished the sixth installment in The Expanse, Babylon's Ashes.

Very gripping, well written and lots of good detail. There are some exchanges between the characters that made me laugh out loud. Of course a system wide war is hard to describe in enough detail for us wargamers but I'm sure we can figure it out.

One of the things I like about the series is the moral complexity. The bad guys sometimes have very good motives, they just go about things in a dick-headed way and don't give a damn about who gets hurt in the process. Even our heroes, desperately trying to save all of humanity, still feel badly that they need to kill some folks to do it. The Path of Righteousness is never clear and always difficult. But the moral compass is always protecting the weak against the powerful, a theme that has been a constant since the tales of King Arthur. I also like that small characters like the Methodist Pastor Anna in Abbadon's Gate or the quiet, mildly autistic biologist Prax in Caliban's War and Babylon's Ashes can both do small but important things that help save humanity.

I also like the central protagonist, James  Holden. Some have called the character whiny. But I like that he is constantly worrying that he is fucking up. He sets out to do "the right thing" and kicks over the apple cart and wonders if he really did do the right thing.

And underneath the whole series is the moral paradox, that the alien technology that allows the teaming legions of Earth to survive by opening up 1300 new worlds for us to spread to, is only possible because it ate the entire population of Eros station, and echos of those voices can still be heard in signals from the Ring Gate. Just like we admire ancient monuments, but need to remember the blood of the slaves who made them.

The TV show on Amazon Prime is also very well done and provides good visuals. But the plotting is weird. Elements of book 2, Caliban's War show up in Season 1, but Season 2 ends before the end of Book 2. But they've done a good job of keeping the major threads and adapting a complex story to the small screen. I'm anxious to get a chance to see season 3.

But now I need to delve into Full Thrust and figure out how to adapt the rules to Expanse technology; vector mechanics, missiles, rail guns, armour, ECMs....

Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 in Review

It's been a not bad year, if somewhat uneven on the gaming front. I've had months of lots of games and lots of productivity interspersed with months  of gaming drought.

I did a rough tally by going through the blog and came up with these figures:
  • 28mm painted  -135
  • 15mm painted- 171
  • Vehicles painted -9
  • Terrain - two big hills, grain fields, garden plots, siege lines, scatter terrain, two SF buildings, markers for CoC and DR.
  • Games played 16 or 17? I didn't blog them all so it's a best guess
  • Attended two games days/cons other than Hotlead 
So not bad really.
By staying focused I've managed to paint much of the figures I bought this year. So the lead pile has only grown a little bit. And in between projects I've knocked a few things off of my mental "to do" and the lead pile.

Being willing to play solo helped get more games in.

Job and personal life are all going really well. My income is back up to pre-crash levels so I can do things like jump on a good sale and start a new project or yesterday I could buy the rest of the Crescent Root buildings before they went out of production. Which is nice. I've never been able to do that before.

I think I'll continue my vague "not really a plan, plan." Try to play more variety. Add some armour and guns and terrain to my WW2 Soviets. Finish the elves. Finish my asteroid base, some more colony buildings and do lots of science fiction gaming. In between try to knock a few more figures off of the colonial medieval SYW and WW2 lead piles. That's probably enough for now.

So as long our public leaders don't cock it all up I'm very hopeful for this year.