Tuesday, August 25, 2020

And So It Begins

Last week I played 40K for the first time, but it didn't come about how I had expected. I was rushing to paint as much as I could before the club day on Saturday, when my 10 year old daughter Zoe asked if she could paint something as well. This seemed like a good idea, so we headed off to the nearest hobby shop to see what we could find. Her attention was caught by a poster of a Space Marine and a Necron, so we picked up a Recruit Edition starter box and she's been doing a very nice job of painting up both sides while I chip away at my Admech.
As well as some beautiful push-fit miniatures, the starter box includes a few basic missions to help learn the mechanics, growing in size and complexity until they use all of the miniatures in the box, and it was the first couple of these that were my first play through of the rules. As Zoe works her way through the rest of the box we will move on to the next ones.

Saturday came around, so we headed to the club and played a basic 500pt game against McZermof's Deathwatch.
As a learning experience it was great - we got to cover all of the basic rules, I got an idea of some of the shenanigans that are possible, and I was able to Neutron Laser a few Space Marines before I got overrun. There's lot to learn, but looking forward to playing again soon.

Next time: I have impulse bought a copy of 'Seven Days to the River Rhine', so hope to offer a few thoughts on that.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Richard's July

I don’t know where July went. I didn’t paint anything or play any games, so there’s no point doing the full write up.

I did however do a bit of reading. Late last year I found Shelby Foote’s “The Civil War: A Narrative” trilogy in a local second hand bookshop. I completed the first book at the start of this year before getting distracted by other things, but got back into it during July and am currently half way through book two, bringing me to the end of Gettysburg. Before picking it up I knew nothing of the period, apart from the Union winning in the end, so it’s been quite an adventure. It’s an incredibly well-written series, with the author skilfully weaving the events in the different theatres, and the political backdrop, into a coherent narrative. Recommended.

To get back on track, I've booked in for my first game of 40K at the club on 22 August. I currently have all of 87 points painted and based and need to get to 500pts, so I will have to get cracking to meet the deadline.
  • Models Finished: 0
  • Leadpile Size: Increased
  • Month Rating: Missing in action.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Richard's June

I started the month thinking it was realistic to average a model a day for all 30 days. That hope lasted for about a week. During the month I switched from working at home to being back in the office. This change was pretty draining, presumably due to having to interact with people, and I struggled with energy and motivation to paint in the evenings. When I did finally get back into painting, I found myself only wanting to do 40K, leaving a bunch of half finished historicals on the desk.

1. Painting 28mm FJ. 

I had been planning to complete a squad of Luftwaffe troops, but in the end just managed two figures.

2. Find a set of WW2 rules that I enjoy playing in 28mm.

We did have plans to play Battlegroup at the club, but life got in the way.

3. Paint a Landsknecht square for Impetus.

No progress.

4. Complete a Black Seas fleet. 

I painted three schooners, which wasn't a very pleasant experience, so the second half of the box remains undone.
This leaves just two cutters to complete the project. In the absence of a Warlord product, I have ordered some from Hagen Miniatures, but Deutsche Post is not currently delivering to New Zealand so I am not sure when they will arrive. 

5. Try out Battlegroup: NORTHAG, and write a review. 

No progress, although my hard copy of the rules arrived this month.

6. Complete some of the random FOW platoons that I have lying around. 

A little more progress with the Mediterranean British, completing a platoon of 4.2" mortars.

7. Syrians for Team Yankee.

No progress.

8. Put together an event or campaign of some kind. 

No progress.

9. Paint 500 points for 40K. 

I settled on the basing for my AdMech, decided to change the base colour that I was using for the Skitarii robes, painted four Rangers and updated the Vanguard to match. I still have two more figures from that first box, to be done as Alphas to make two minimum sized units, and then I've got a Dunecrawler to start.
June Summary
  • Models Finished: 13
  • Leadpile Size: Reduced, just.
  • Month Rating: Meh

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Richard's May

Life is returning to normal here with the progressive lifting of COVID-related restrictions. It has been ten days since the last case was found, and it's likely that all restrictions except for the border controls will disappear in the next week or so.

1. Painting 28mm FJ. 

No progress.

2. Find a set of WW2 rules that I enjoy playing in 28mm.

No progress.

3. Paint a Landsknecht square for Impetus.

No progress.

4. Complete a Black Seas fleet. 

I finally finished USS Constitution, which was started in January, and then reflagged my Spanish ships as Americans. I also painted the last gunboat squadron I needed for my RN fleet. I have three schooners on the workbench, they would have to be the least enjoyable Black Seas kits I've made so far, and I'm worried about how sturdy they'll be on the table: narrow, all metal including sails, and very top heavy.
I also bought some Battlefoam trays for storage and transportation. These were BFL size trays for X-Wing, with packers made from some spare foam I had lying around.
    5. Try out Battlegroup: NORTHAG, and write a review. 

    With restrictions easing, I'm hopeful of getting a game in the not too distant future.

    6. Complete some of the random FOW platoons that I have lying around. 

    I made good progress on this one. I pulled a few things out of the stash and did a bunch of work on my Mediterranean British, including finishing my last two Early War Armoured Car Platoons, a platoon of Light Mk VIbs, a platoon of Vickers MMGs, and some carriers and trucks. I only have a few related models left for the army, so will finish those off and then post photos of the wider collection.

    7. Syrians for Team Yankee.

    No progress.

    8. Put together an event or campaign of some kind. 

    On hold, but I’m thinking about what we could do for some multiplayer TY once we’re able to reopen the club.

    9. Paint 500 points for 40K. 

    No progress. I'm annoyed that I put off buying more for so long, as the AdMech Start Collecting box I was intending to get has been re-released, replacing the Dunecrawler with a Dunerider, which is a disappointing change.

    May Summary
    • Models Finished: 21
    • Leadpile Size: Reduced!
    • Month Rating: Productive.

    Sunday, May 03, 2020

    Richard's April

    We spent most of April in national lockdown, but the restrictions have eased slightly in the last week, allowing non-essential businesses to open. I'm continuing to work from home under the new regime, which is being reassessed on 11 May. Much of the month was spent finish off the company's annual Asset Management Plan (if you feel like reading 400 pages on electricity distribution network management practices, you can download your very own copy), so I didn't get as much hobbying done as I would have like to.

    1. Painting 28mm FJ. 

    No further progress.

    2. Find a set of WW2 rules that I enjoy playing in 28mm.

    A couple of us are going to give Battlegroup WW2 a go, so that will be first cab off the rank once we're able to get together.

    3. Paint a Landsknecht square for Impetus.

    Nope.

    4. Complete a Black Seas fleet box. 

    I completed my Royal Navy First Rate. This was hard going, and I had to take a break halfway through to work on something else, but I got there in the end. The Black Seas resin/metal models aren't quite as nice as the plastics, and I was particularly concerned about the metal masts. They definitely won't take much punishment, but the rigging seems to stabilise them enough to be okay for use in games.
    For my smuggler hunters, that leaves the following still to go:
    • 2 x Cutter.
    • 3 x Schooner.
    • 1 x Gunboat Squadron.
    5. Try out Battlegroup: NORTHAG, and write a review. 

    I have written some first thoughts in an earlier post. I'm looking forward to the club being able to reopen in order to try it for real.

    6. Complete some of the random FOW platoons that I have lying around. 

    No progress.

    7. Syrians for Team Yankee.

    No further progress, but I did paint a pair of Geckos for my Soviets.
    8. Put together an event or campaign of some kind. 

    On hold.

    9. Paint 500 points for 40K. 

    A new one! I started painting my Skitarii during April. Only four figures painted so far, but I really enjoyed it. Now that we have moved out of lockdown I will order some bits to bring me up to 500pts of Adeptus Mechanicus.
    April Summary
    • Models Finished: 7
    • Leadpile Size: Reduced!
    • Month Rating: Quiet.

    Sunday, April 05, 2020

    Battlegroup: NORTHAG - First Thoughts

    Last year I jumped on the kickstarter for Plastic Soldier Company's new Battlegroup: NORTHAG system, and this week they very generously sent a PDF of the rulebook to backers, ahead of the general release.
    The game is set in 1983, with lists provided for GSFG and BAOR. It has been suggested that the West Germans and Americans will be covered in a second book at some point in the future.

    The game has been designed for 10mm to 15mm miniatures, and is being supported by a range of 10mm products from PSC. It could definitely be played in 6mm without any changes.

    There are three standard sizes of game: "Platoon" at 500pts on a 6x4, "Company" at 750pts" on a 6x8, and "Battalion" at 1000pts on a 6x10 or larger. For context, a troop of three Chieftains costs 129pts and a Soviet motor rifle platoon with BMPs is 80pts.

    Infantry basing is largely compatible with TY: the Soviet Motor Rifle Platoon has three AK74 Fireteams, three RPG teams, and three BTRs/BMPs with options for adding AGS17, SA7, PKMs etc. A British Mechanised Platoon has seven Fireteams and four FV432s, with options for adding a Carl Gustav team, GPMG, Milan etc.

    Activation is by team. You give a team an order, resolve its activation, then move onto the next team until you run out of orders for the turn. There are no command distances: teams function independently. A pinned team cannot be given orders, with rallying occurring at the end of your turn.

    There are two types of shooting: aimed and suppressing. Infantry can only be targeted with suppressing fire. Each team shooting gets one D6 to hit, targeting one enemy team.

    • For aimed shooting with HE, the sequence goes D6 to observe the target, D6 to hit, and D6 cover save.
    • For aimed shooting with AP, the cover save is replaced by a penetration roll: 2D6 with a target of 7 modified by the difference in AT and armour ratings. There's a table for this, but I imagine it wouldn't need to be referred to after the first few times.
    • For suppressing fire, no observation roll is needed. ROF and HE rating modify the score to hit, the target gets a D6 cover save, and if that's failed, a D6 casualty save to destroy the team. Failing the cover save results in the target team being pinned.

    All indirect fire is from off-table. Anything heavier than mortars is only available as a "timed strike" - before the game you decide what turn the barrage will arrive, and write down the location where it will land.

    Force morale is managed through the Battle Rating system. Each platoon in your list is worth a certain number of BR, independent of points, adding up for a total BR for the force. Each time you lose a team, you draw a counter from a common pot. Most of these counters specify a number of BR, and your force breaks when the BR from counters you have drawn (the details of which are kept secret) exceeds the BR of your list. These counters also include random events, so drawing a chit could result, for example, in being allocated a free helicopter gunship. A number of other situations also require drawing a counter, e.g. you draw a counter to rally D6 units.

    There is only one scenario in the book, a meeting engagement. The first two turns are played with the recce screens, on the third turn the vanguard unit arrives, and the main body arrives in turns five and six.

    Bearing in mind that I haven't been able to play a proper game, just a few test situations to try out the mechanics, here are my thoughts as a TY player who has never played the WW2 version of Battlegroup:

    • It seems like a much more thoughtful game than TY, and I imagine that play could be quite slowly in comparison.
    • Mid game you will a lot of individual teams to keep track of, and many more teams on table than orders available to control them with. You will need to decide which units you are going to activate each turn, because you won't be able to activate them all.
    • I priced up a 500pt Soviet list from my collection, and it came to 41 teams, which I would somehow have to control with eight orders. A sample British list came to 26 teams with nine orders. There is actually no way you can have everything doing something once you move out of the recce phase, and order of activation becomes very important.
    • This could make it very tactical, and having the initiative could be incredibly significant: if your opponent has to burn orders responding to your moves, then they're not going to be able to do the things that they really want to be doing somewhere else on the table.
    • There is a bit of record keeping required (e.g. ammunition tracking for ATGMs, the target points for any timed bombardments), which would take a bit of getting used to.
    • Platoon orders are going to be important. These cost two orders, but apply to every team in the platoon. Only two of them are available: Move and Hold. The "Platoon - Hold" order is worth noting. This places every team in the platoon into Ambush (i.e. overwatch), and able to shoot in the enemy turn. Take a British Mechanised Platoon of seven Fireteams. It would cost seven orders (out of nine if it's a Platoon level game) for each team to fire during your turn, leaving just two orders for the remaining 400+ points in your force. Or you spend two orders to place them all in Ambush, allowing them all to fire at any point in the enemy turn.
    • It will be interesting to see what overwatch means for the amount of manouever in the game compared to TY.
    • Ranges are much longer than what we are used to in TY. A MBT gun has a maximum range of 70", and small arms usually have a range of 30". Careful terrain design will be needed to close off lines of sight, because otherwise there's nowhere to hide. 
    • There are some nice differences between NATO and Warsaw Pact. For example, losing MBTs is a bit of a doom spiral for the British. The loss of each of the first three Chieftains requires one BR counter to be drawn. The loss of numbers four to six cost two BR counters each, and so on, meaning the British care a lot more about the loss of their tanks than the Soviets do.
    • It would have been nice to have an example attack/defence scenario as well as the meeting engagement.
    • There are a number of opportunities for conversions of kits to create equipment that doesn't have a role in TY - Chieftain bridgelayer, anyone?
    I definitely think it's worth trying, and I'm hoping I can persuade one of the local TY British players to give it a go with me at the club once the lockdown is lifted.

    Wednesday, April 01, 2020

    Richard's March

    What a crazy month. In New Zealand we are locked down for at least the next three weeks. All schools and businesses are closed except for essential services, and we are required to remain at home except for buying food, medicine, and other essentials, although you are still allowed to walk around your neighbourhood. Needless to say, there are more people out walking each day that I've ever seen in the past.

    I'm working from home, and Sarah has taken on home-schooling the kids. In a way it's a relief to have reached this point: over the last few weeks you couldn't plan even a few days ahead due to the rate at which the situation was changing. Now, we are on an island of certainty for four weeks: hunker down, stay in your bubble, and make do with whatever activities are already in the house.

    March is always a busy month at work, and I ended up working some pretty long hours before the lockdown, but I still managed to get a few things done on my list.

    1. Painting 28mm FJ. 

    I completed two squads during March. One had previously been painted but hadn't based, and the other had been base coated. I still have some support weapons and a squad of Luftwaffe troops to go.
    2. Find a set of WW2 rules that I enjoy playing in 28mm.

    Alas, games are pretty much off the menu for the foreseeable future. But at least it looks like I'll have an army to use once things return to normal.

    3. Paint a Landsknecht square for Impetus.

    Moving on.

    4. Complete a Black Seas fleet box. 

    I completed two frigates and a third rate. This means I've now finished the Master and Commander box..
    For my smuggler hunters, that leaves the following still to go:
    • 1 x First Rate. Purchased.
    • 2 x Cutter. No indication of when Warlord are going to release any of these.
    • 3 x Schooner. On order.
    • 1 x Gunboat Squadron: Primed.
    5. Try out Battlegroup: NORTHAG, and write a review. 

    There was a post on the PSC Facebook page that they would be sending a PDF of the rules to all pre-order customers, so I should be able to do this in April with some solo play.

    6. Complete some of the random FOW platoons that I have lying around. 

    No progress.

    7. Syrians for Team Yankee.

    No further progress.

    8. Put together an event or campaign of some kind. 

    In this time of physical distancing, this is on hold.

    March Summary
    • Models Finished: 20
    • Leadpile Size: Reduced!
    • Month Rating: Productive.