Thursday, 27 October 2016

Breaking down the Germans for Bolt Action.

Reading through the posts on 'Army lists' section of the BA forum has given me some fresh impetus to give Version 2 of the rules another bash. I started looking at the smaller 750 point lists and found a particularly good one for my Germans, and what struck me was that it broke down the standard 10 figures infantry squads into 2 sections of 5 men each, working independently, but supporting each other. This is a historically accurate representation, with the MG42 section (Gunner, loader and 3 riflemen) putting down suppressing fire, pinning the enemy while the other section (NCO with sub machine gun and 4 riflemen) moves forward. In Bolt Action terms each section gets it's own order dice, so it's possible to replicate this tactic in the game, and if the LMG section can cause the enemy unit to return fire then the second section is free to attack them as the enemy unit will have used it's order dice for that turn. I like this use of historical tactics so decided to see how I could make this work in my own German platoons.

My Bolt Action Germans have grown to a sizeable collection, so it was no surprise to find that I could easily field TWO 750 point platoons from just the infantry alone, leaving the tanks and armour etc in the boxes as potential reinforcements for bigger games. Going through the squads I found I could now field a mid war (1943 -1944) Regular Heer reinforced platoon of three squads in six sections, plus a later war (44 - 45) force of Waffen SS or veteran Grenadiers. In addition I am also able to field a smaller 'Last Levy' force comprising Volksturm and Hitler Youth squads for those final desperate days in Berlin against the Soviets.

To give an example of how the veteran 'SS' platoon breaks down this is the list:

2nd Leutnant (Lieutenant) + buddy (2x rifle, veteran)

1 medic

5 waffen SS: 3x AR, 2 PZ faust (veteran, rifle section)
5 waffen SS: 1x LMG (veteran, LMG section)

5 waffen SS: 3x AR, 2 PZ faust (veteran, rifle section)
5 waffen SS: 1x LMG (veteran, LMG section)

5 waffen SS: 3x AR, 2 PZ faust (veteran, rifle section)
5 waffen SS: 1x LMG (veteran, LMG section)

1 veteran sniper team

748pts, 9 order dice, 35 models 

The option remains to add in MMG teams and /or mortar team and anti tank (panzershreck) team. I have added to this list an armoured car or half track with machine gun to act as a transport for the command team if required. The Heer list is much the same and retains the same options. Like many I'm not keen on having SS troops on the table, so I just consider it a 'late war' list, but BA is just a game after all.

I'm now trying to find a matching list for my hordes of US infantry before giving it a run through. Leaving armour and artillery off the table means I get to focus on the infantry tactics in this scale.

A few pictures of how this breaks down, the latter army has more distinctive cammo patterns and assault rifles, plus a sprinkling of one shot panzerfausts etc.

 Firstly the 'Heer' force, regular infantry 1943 - 1944.

And now the latter war 1944 - 45 force, same structure, different figures.

Still working on the terrain, adding fields etc.

General Patton awaiting the arrival of the US infantry!

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Home Guard for Bolt Action.

I have been trying to resist this set for most of this year, but with my BA stuff mostly painted and in the boxes I finally gave in and this morning ordered the Warlord 'Local Defence Volunteers' box set of 8 Dad's Army characters in uniform, the Vicar & Verger set (2 figures), plus the 500 point British starter army set. I don't intend to expand it beyond this, but I can envisage some fun scenarios, with the Home Guard fending off a small German invasion force, backed up by Regular infantry, Vickers MG section and Bren carrier. Watching the latest re run of Dad's Army last week I noted the reference to the 'Dymchurch Home Guard'  (disparaging as I recall), and this sparked the idea of playing some fun games based around small Kentish seaside villages. Personally, this is how I like to play BA now, small games up to 750 points, no artillery, tanks, anti aircraft or transports/ tows etc, just the basic infantry platoon based game with a few support teams. Whatever else I'm going to enjoy painting the Dad's Army characters once they arrive. Warlord are offering free postage at the moment, another thing that prompted me to order.

Here are a couple of 'borrowed' images of what's coming, from the warlord website. As usual they are quite expensive, the HG 8 figure metal set being £20.00, the vicar and verger £5.00 for the 2 castings, pushing the boundaries somewhat, but very collectable. The British starter set is £39.00 and contains plastic infantry sprues with metal additional figures, MG team and a resin/metal Bren carrier and crew.

Aside from the above I have added a 4 base German  MMG team plus command for Flames of war and painted the ME262. Didn't turn out too bad, the dappling was a challenge as it was with my larger Airfix version for Bolt Action, but looks OK on the flight stand.

ME262 ready for action.
Yet more Shermans (no more!), M20 scout cars and Bergepanther undercoated. Also two German half tracks. The plastic Shermans are bought as you see them quite cheaply and are by Plastic Soldier Company.  They seem to go together far better than the Battlefront 'Open Fire' plastic Shermans with no annoying gaps that need to be filled.

And I'm still working my way through the beers! 

Really enjoyed this one, light and refreshing.
Not so much to my taste, 5.5% abv quite a bitter aftertaste, a darker ale, but interesting label and name.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Scenic planning and more beer!

Inspired by the videos of The Terrain Tutor I ordered up a few more packs of materials, some DAS air drying modelling clay and wire wool (smoke markers!). A trip to B&Q added several tester pots of suitable ground colours, a couple more carpet tiles and more sticks for my hot glue gun. Not had a lot of time this week, but I did manage to cut out and drybrush one of several planned 'ploughed' fields and add it to the table. My intention is to completely break up the board with a series of patchwork fields to represent ploughed up earth as well as harvested wheatfields and taller crop fields, all surrounded by 30mm tall 'bocage'. The fields are being cut to conform to the 6" & 12" hedge sections made for me by Simon at S&A scenics, slightly taller than his standard size 4 hedges. To this end he is making me another 4 packs of hedges plus another couple of packs of his size 3 trees. That should finish the job nicely. Once all the tiles are drybrushed and shaded they should look nice, and I'll be adding lots of hay stacks where appropriate, as done by The Terrain Tutor, very simple but amazingly effective, thus the DAS clay and hairy coconut matting! I'm just enjoying myself planning for this. Another TT inspired project is to make explosion markers from clump foliage, I could not believe how realistic they look when finished and painted and placed on top of a destroyed model tank. I have a load of clump foliage saved from my first attempt at making bocage, I'll make a few up this week and get them painted to illustrate the effect.

Meantime I have a game on the table German v US, loads of tanks, Shermans, M10's Stuarts, Tigers, StuG's and Panzer 1V's as I refresh myself with the rules. The enlarged Flames of War reference sheet has been reprinted and stuck on the wall at the bottom of the table, I can mostly still play off the sheet together with the printed army list from FoW army builder (here) that contains all of the stats for the selected platoons. THanks to 'Foy' for taking the time to enlarge and shoot the original A4 two sided playsheet into this magnificent double sized wall chart, it's 4 sheets of A4 card printed and stuck together and very easy to read.

I have a 4 base German HMG platoon on the work bench, plus 2 M20 scout cars to complete the US 2nd armored list Tank destroyer platoon ( 1 command recon jeep 50cal, 2 M20 Scout cars & 4 M10 tank destroyers). That will see the US list about done. Air support was a choice of a Thunderbolt or P38 Lightning, I went for the latter due to it's unusual shape and combination of bombs and rockets. Airstrike rules in FoW are quite straight forward, far more so in my opinion than Bolt Action. I find the little 'Battlefront' aircraft quite collectable, I have an ME262 on order for my late war Germans.

Tanks are a mix of Battlefront, Forged in Battle (resin) and Plastic Soldier Company, I have a platoon of 5 Panthers to build and paint in due course. Figures are mostly Forged in Battle with some Peter Pigs being added as I like them. I also have a lovely metal Bergepanther recovery vehicle by Peter Pig assembled and ready for painting.

In other news.....
My Son in Law usually picks up a box of beer for me when he visits his wholesaler, last couple have been 'Golden Ale' selections, my recently acquired taste, but he excelled himself this time, turning up with this huge festive 'Advent' selection of 24 craft ales! No way was I going to be able to wait until December 1st to try a few, and with the family round for Sunday dinner I sampled a couple of the beers. There are few odd ones in there, darker heavier Winter Ales, the usual Chocolate beer and even a Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale, but all seem eminently drinkable to me. The box included a nice glass and 24 x 330ml bottles, very nice, cheers Jay.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

OK, time to refocus!

I have been doing quite a bit of thinking recently about my hobby and what direction to take it in. Over the last year I have collected so much stuff that I have lost my ability to focus on anything and it's time I sorted things out if I am to continue with this hobby. I have been very close to packing it all in completely, as I said to my wife, model soldiers have been part of my life for so long now that maybe it's time to do something different with my time. But the lure of WW2 gaming and in particular the Normandy campaign continues to hold my attention, and Flames of War remains the most playable set of rules I have used for years so I have decided to stick with it going forward.

On Sunday I had fully intended to get up and drive to SELWG, but instead we went off to Canterbury and had a lovely day shopping and sightseeing followed by a nice lunch washed down by a pint of Nicholson's Pale Ale in a cosy little pub opposite the Cathedral. It did me the world of good, despite being taken around several stores by my 15 year old youngest daughter including the wonderfully named 'Lush' which sells nothing but fizzing bath bombs, soaps etc and was a true sensory experience and very expensive! The day out really cleared my head.

I have recently been watching the series of videos by the Terrain Tutor on YouTube, and been thinking about how I could apply some of his methods and ideas to a 15mm Normandy layout for FoW. So I laid out the basic set up you see below  and I intend to gradually work on the scenic side of things over the next few weeks. What I'm looking for is to break up the bare board as a series on connected fields with the dreaded bocage lining the rural roads. I plan to work on the carpet tiles I'm using for this and another trip to B&Q will introduce some darker 'ploughed field' tones as I progress. I have much to do yet, but it's one aspect of the hobby I do really enjoy.  This has been very much inspired by the 'House of Hengist' blog (see right for link), where some beautiful landscapes can be found for his Flames of war games. I hope to describe the development of my table as things progress, of course everything must remain modular and interchangeable.

Where this leaves Bolt Action I'm not sure, I'll sit on it for a while and see how I feel, but no doubt that the release of version 2 with all it's errata, typos etc has really knocked my enthusiasm for the game and 15mm allows me to fight bigger tank battles on my table.

A few pictures, the basic table set up carpet tiles will be treated and toned, wood templates improved, houses given back yards and flower beds etc. US force I have chosen to represent is 2nd Armored from the Overlord book, and will start at 1675 points as listed below, I have most of whats needed for this list, just a couple of M20 scout cars and a couple more M4 Shermans to paint to complete it. I also have a German force ready to face it, this from the Open Fire list, requiring only a platoon of Panthers to complete it.

A couple of gifts from Canterbury - thanks to my daughter!

Forged in Battle Tigers.