Tuesday, 22 April 2014

GRUNTZ AAR - Action at Valin Farm

TGP and I played a game of Gruntz today based on a scenario from the Tomorrows War rulebook. I modified the background to match my Gruntz forces and translated the units from one to the other as best I could. I added a few extra units on each side to up the points values slightly.

We also used two house rues for our Gruntz game. Firstly, we used the random dice draw for unit activation from Bolt Action. Each side uses different coloured dice (mine were green, TGP was red). Each unit on the table has a single activation dice, and all the dice are added to a pot and drawn one by one. If a green die was drawn, I activated a previously inactive unit, if a red was drawn, TGP activated one of his units. If a unit suffered a compulsory move action, like a condition brown move, they immediately forfeit their next activation dice, so if they haven't been yet, their dice are removed from the pot and if they have already been activated their die was left on the table at the end of the turn, so there would be one less die in the pot. Once all the dice are drawn, the turn is over and all the dice are returned to the pot, excepting destroyed units, units on overwatch (who keep their dice) and units who made compulsory moves AFTER they had activated. It worked well, and I think it will probably become our standard method of initiative for Gruntz.

The second house rule was fairly simple one - the weapon ranges were treated as range bands, with each one after the 1st conferring a -2 modifier. The Mortar got -2 within the first range band (hard to hit close by with a mortar) and nothing in the second, -2 in the third and so on.

The scenario description was as follows:

Glory, in the Foix Gap, 2298

The long-standing feud between Zydek Adaptive Systems (ZAS) and the New Kiev Defence Force (NKDF) has finally erupted into war! ZAS forces have plunged deeply into the Foix Gap, only to find their advances blocked by advance NKDF National Guard and militia elements. Sharp engagements are being fought wherever the two forces come into contact. One such meeting engagement occurred at the tiny farming village of Valin Farm.

The picture above shows the table, with the village of Valin Farm in the centre (I really need to finish basing those trees...). The ZAS forces would deploy from the table edge at the bottom of the picture and have to head up table to exit off the far edge. The NKDF got hidden set-up for some of their units, who would be dug in to prepared positions (+2 guard and soak). On turn 2 the NKDF would recieve reinforcments arriving on the top left table corner.

Woods were delineated by the areas bounded by the hexes, and were impassable to all vehicles. Hedgerows blocked movement for the vehicles (think space bocage).

NKDF Forces

ZAS Forces have broken through all across the border. One of our militia units has established a defensive position in the village of Valin Farm. They are not strong enough to halt a concerted ZAS advance. Due to the importance of the road connection from Valin Farm to the critical bridge over the Resolution River, you must reinforce the militia and destroy or ablate any advances by ZAS forces! We have very little armour to allocate to this operation, but we do not believe they are aware of our advances in powered armour. You should be able to deliver a surprise blow that will leave ZAS reeling and perhaps blunt the speed of their advance across the breadth of the frontier.

Starting forces:
5 x NKDF Militia Squad
2 x Specialist NKDF - Fusion Gun Team
1 x Specialist NKDF - Mortar team

Arrive on Turn 2 at point 2:
1 xM233 Cossack APC with:
                                2 x Dragoon PA squads
            3 x RGM 85 Exosuits
            1 x M-64 Wolverine tank


ZAS Forces:

It is important to maintain the timeline of attack while simultaneously reducing any NKDF forces encountered. Assault past Vallin Farm and join up with your flanking units at the Resolution River Bridge. Try not to bog down in a toe to toe fight with expected NKDF resistance, but do not leave a strong NKDF force behind you to threaten your communications or menace follow on units!

3 x ZM-55 APC  each  with:
2 x ZAS Fireteam
3 x ZM-89 MBT
2 x ZA-2 “Purifier” Light Mecha
1 x ZMQ-1 Attack Drone


Unfortunately I don't have any in-progress shots of the battle, only the aftermath. The ZAS forces deployed to the left flank, shielded by the farmhouse and woods at the left side of their deployment. they moved upo the left flank, taking fire from the fusion guns emplaced in the village. The drone made a pass over the hedge line to the right hand side of Valins Farm, dropping it's guided bomb on two of the Militia units. It circled around the village, firing missiles at the fusion guns. The ZAS Mecha deployed in the enclosed field on the baseline and moved up through the centre, taking pot shots at the fusion guns. The ZAS APC deployed behind the tanks. Two of them dropped off infantry into the woods and hedgerow, then split up, one heading around the woods to the left and the other two heading up the centre through the road, following the tanks.

The NKDF militia split into two, with two squads heading into the woods on the left, and the remains of the two bombed squads and one full strength squad deploying for flank shots on the vehicles passing through the village. On turn two the NKDF reinforcements arrived. The tank drove up the left flank and, in concert with the fusion guns and mortar, destroyed two of the ZAS tanks at the edge of the woodlands on the left. The APC dropped it's two squads of powered armour off in the copse of trees to the left of the village, along with the two militia squads, then pushed up to assist the tank. The three exosuits split up, one following the tank and two heading around the back of the village to face off any units that made it through.

The final two turns saw the ZAS forces loose two tanks on the left flank to the fusion gun, tank and APC fire. A further ZAS APC made a break on the left flank, but an ENG critical denied it the double move it needed to get off-table. It was then destroyed by a combination of exosuit and tank fire. The drone passed over the village and made a strafing runs on a militia team and PA suit squad redeploying into the town, only to be brought down by accurate and effective fire from the other PA suit squad in the tree line. The remaining ZAS tank charged through the village, taking flank shots from militia squads and exosuits and downing an exosuit and the mortar squad on the way through in return. An empty APC followed, finishing off the mortar team. The third APC halted at the hedgerow, risking point blank shots from the fusion gun, to deploy it's two infantry squads. It then rammed and destroyed the third exosuit after surviving a hail of fire from all sides.

Meanwhile the ZAS infantry from the hedgerow advanced behind the tanks and APC's to assault the left most fusion gun. The ZAS infantry in the woods exchanged a few rounds of fire with the militia units in the woods to the left of the village before the tank arrived. An attempt to assault the tank was largely ineffectual, and one fire team were slowly whittled down by the tanks hull MG. A later attempt by the other fire team to assault the exosuit was likewise ineffective, with the exosuits demolition ram smushing one of the ZAS soldiers.

The final actions of the game were the assaults on the fusion guns. The one to the right of the road was successfully assaulted and it's gun crew captured. The assault to the left of the road was a dismal show all round, with the assaulting team scoring just one hit that was soaked, and the gun and a supporting squad of infantry failing to counter assault then failing a condition brown test. The supporting infantry ran away, after the ZAS infantry failed their free assault, as did the gun crew.

The final outcome was a victory to the NKDF on points. They had blunted the ZAS attack, but taken quite a beating in the process. If the ZAS force had managed to get the APC with the engine critical off the board, and the drone hadn't been shot down, it would have gone the other way.

Final dispositions.

ZAS troops assaulting exosuit - less one smushed trooper. Tank has it's turret traversed to rear to shoot at fleeing APC.

Captured gun crew from right fusion gun.

RPG alley. Multiple militia units in place for flank shots. Downed exosuit has just been rammed by the ZAS APC.

The two decisive kills, the drone and the crippled APC.

PA suit squad.

ZAS Mecha.

Left fusion gun after fleeing from assaulting troops - not in a great position...

Rear view of RPG alley, just visible at top right is the PA squad who shot down the drone.

ZAS ZMQ-1 Drone. Effective spotting and missile work made it one of the ZAS most effective units.
A few observations we made after the game were that the skill/shooting levels of the troops were possibly too low - we seemed to do a lot of rolling, but not much hitting. I had statted the units as seasoned/veteran, apart from the ZAS APC's which were average. On the other hand, it may be that we are just used to an unrealistic casualty rate. If you read modern combat reports and compare them with wargame AAR's where it's not unusual to see entire forces wiped out, the modern reports have very low casualty rates in comparison. Perhaps the volume of fire versus the hit rate is actually about right but we are just used to a more unrealistic baseline.

The other observation was that the assault rules didn't seem to work well. I did suggest to TGP that lightly armed troops assaulting a tank or a heavily armoured exosuit can't expect to do well. Neither of us was really happy with the way that the assault on the left hand fusion gun had gone, but couldn't really point out a problem with the system - it just seemed like the fusion gun team wouldn't have dragged the gun with them when they ran off. I did advise TGP that the fusion gun model was a proxy as my NVL heavy weapons team were on the windowsill unpainted. TGP also wasn't happy with mortars attacking tanks, but I suggested that hi-tech mortar rounds could easily be variable role frangible or self forging anti-tank. He accepted that idea, grudgingly.

But, overall we had a really fun game and will certainly be using the Gruntz rules again with a few tweaks.

Miniatures used were CMG ZAS for the ZAS tanks, infantry and APC's. The ZAS mechas were converted and now OOP GZG Landmate figures. The Drone was a Matchbox die-cat toy repainted and slightly modified.

The NKDF infantry were Oddzial Osmy New Vistula Legion. Tank and APC were by Old Crow. Exosuits are Khurusan Miniatures and the PA suits were Brigade Models. The fusion guns were kitbashed from spare cannons from the Rebel Miniatures Sabre gunship.

Terrain was a mix of scratch built (the domes, bocage and the white building) and 4-Ground laser cut MDF for the two farmhouses. The coloured containers are also now OOP GZG.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Salute Loot

Yesterday was the 2014 Salute wargaming show, held at the Excel centre in London's docklands. It's only 20 minutes away by car for me, so I try and make it every year. This year I was joined by my brother and his wife and their 2 month old daughter. I was please to see that my brother was introducing her to wargaming at a young age. I fully expect her to be painting her first 28's within months.

The Excel venue is a great one for shows of this type, with good transport links, plenty of space and only moderately overpriced food and drink outside the halls. The car park that I usually use, outside the East entrance, was closed for coaches this year, so we were directed into the labyrinth under the venue. Random closures of certain parts made this a real maze, and I drove around fr about 20 minutes trying to find a parking space.

Eventually we managed to get into the hall just before 1pm, by which time all the freebie bags were gone, so I didn't get an of the nice give-aways like the Salute figure, which is a shame. I also thought that the hall seemed darker this year than previous years, but that could just be my failing eyesight. There seemed less gamers there than previous years, and I noticed a few empty tables. The lack of a bring and buy this year possibly contributed to the more spacious feel, as the stores were a little more spread out, which was a welcome change.

I didn't take any photos at the show, but there are some excellent galleries here, here, here and here. I was particularly impressed by the Sword Beach display, and the 1950's Vietnam board. The VSF board on Mars and the IHMN Lost City board also looked great. Unfortunately, because we arrived late, it was the first year that I didn't get to see everything, and missed some of the really good boards that you can see in the links above.

So, onto my haul. All the pictures below are straight from the pack, so include flash and sprue and are unassembled or glued.


Firstly, we have a freebie figure that I got from an interesting looking range soon to be launched by Spectre Miniatures. The range appears to be a modern/near future set in the dark, dangerous and sweaty world of unstable African countries. The figure is a CIA agent, and if the rest of the range is of similar quality they could be worth looking out for.

Next we have a collection of miniatures from Ground Zero Games

Firstly we have the Crusty attack bugs and handler. These are really nice giant attack prawns, and crusty with forked stick to prod them towards their enemies. I can see a whole host of uses for the attack prawns, and they are very nicely made, as ever.

Next we have a set of NSL heavy weapons, an autocannon on wheeled mount, grenade launcher on wheeled mount and RAM mortar. All nice, clean sculpts that will add a bit of punch to my Militech forces for the 4th Corporate War game.

I also wanted to pick up some Crusty light cruisers. When I placed an order with GZG after Christmas using my discount voucher, I ordered 4 sets of Heavy Destroyers by mistake instead of 4 light cruisers. Due to a picking error yesterday, I ended up with 2 more heavy cruisers and 2 light cruisers instead of the 4 light cruisers I wanted. I'm destined never to get my light cruiser squadron...

Light on left, heavy on right.

Next we have some really nice civilian vehicles from Critical Mass Games. I picked up a pack of the anti-grav cars and the anti-grav vans. The vans will make really good proxies for AV-4's (aerodyne vehicles) for the 4th Corporate war game, and the I'm going to convert a couple of the cars to be police cruisers by the addition of a styrene lightbar on the roof. I also picked up a Ravager Mech, but as it's in parts, didn't bother to photograph it.

Next we have a single pack of Arthurian Personalities from West Wind Productions Arturian range. These are a really nice set of Arthur, Merlin , Bishop and Owain, who I assume is Owain Ddantgwyn. Really nice figures, especially Merlin leaning on his staff. He just cries out for some faded blue tattoos on his arms.

Next we have a pack of Wargames Foundry figures from their unreleased range. These are a set from the Egyptian Adventures, which are essentially figures from the movie "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns". This set recreates the fight in the throne room between Nefretiri and Anacksunamun (his daughter and his mistress). It's a a nice set of figures which I will be using to bolster my Servants of Ra forces for In Her Majesty's Name.

I seem to recall a distinct lack of boobies in the film...
Next up we have some casualty dials from Warbases. Warbases are my go-to service for bases, counters and various other laser cut MDF bits and bobs. They make some nice dark ages buildings which I have just purchased, and they also did the custom order for the large hexes for my micro forests. The casualty dials are really simple, just disks with a window cut into them and a rotating dial with numbers on it. at 60p each, these are a bargain and will be useful for a number of games including Bolt Action, Chain of Command and Dux Brittanium..

I finally picked up a set plastic of hills and escarpments from Kallistra, which I have been uhmming and ahhing over for the last 4 or 5 shows I've been to. They should paint up nicely, and when flocked to match my table will provide a nice alternative to some of the crummy polystyrene pieces I have. The ones below are the smallest pieces of the small, medium and large that you get in each set.

Finally, and my last purchases of the day, we have a few bits from Brigade Models. Firstly we have two sets of their powered armour, which will again be used for my 4th corporate war game, in this case a Militech Commando PA suits. They'll also do double duty as French BH-21 PA suits for a 2300AD game set on Aurore. Very nice models, but the details on the weapons seem a bit soft. Perhaps this is the age of the mould or maybe I just got a slightly rough batch. I got one set of the regular suits, and one set of the heavy weapon suits armed with a mix of rotary cannons and bazookas.

 I also picked up a couple of sets each of their new fleet scale British Fighters. The detail on these really is remarkable. You can even make out the cockpit canopy frame on them, which is a major achievement for a miniature less then 6mm in length. This is clearly a positive result of CGI design and 3-d printing.

The bars on the tail are sprue, but could easily be turned into a rear air-foil to give you a Vampire/Vixen twin boom vibe.
With handy 15mm figure for scale
So, overall quite a nice haul. There were a couple of things I looked at but didn't get, the raiders expansion for Dux Brittanium and some of the new plastic tribal Orcs. I forgot to get some Longhorn fighters from GZG and I also picked up some Northwind and Foundry Arabs for my brother for his birthday present. I managed to stay just within my budget, and resisted the temptation to spend it all on buying every X-Wing ship I could see.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Dark Ages Church WIP

A few quick WIP shots of my Dark Ages church, inspired by some excellent churches here, here and here.

The main body of the church is made from 3mm foamcore card on a hardboard base, dressed with a mix of coffee stirrers, balsa strip and some balsa sheets for the doors and floor. The floor has been laid as planks, but I suspect it may have been bare stone flags or even dirt in early churches. I've made a bit of a pigs ear of the inside of the doors, as I was going to leave the roof attached,  so they may get boxed in to some kind of archway to hide them.

The thatch roof is green pan scourers split down the middle to make two thin sheets. These are affixed to a roof former of foamcore with PVA and then once dry are painted with 50/50 dilute PVA and water to stop them shedding and add stiffness. You have to be careful with the dilute PVA as it can make the paper backing on the foamcore soggy if you are too liberal.

The building has been under-coated in cream exterior textured paint to seal and add texture to the foamcore. The next stage is to basecoat and then start the highlighting process, which I will start with the airbrush to get most of the colour on, then switch to stippling for the daub texture on the walls. The roof will be airbrushed black and then dry brushed up to a pale grey-brown to represent old thatch.