Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and to your loved ones! May all of your presents be full of figures and books and your stockings crammed with paints! I wish to thank you for following my blog as I read everything you write and hope you continue to find something interesting!

I'll give a give a year in review soon along with the new project list, but the picture above from NC Wyeth  should give you an idea of one of my projects I plan on coming back to this year.;-)

Oh I should mention the Artists Don Troani here and John Paul Strain here(picture shown previously here) give me great inspiration in addition to Mr. Wyeth for my ACW material!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

And so it begins!

The day has finally arrived for Curt's winter painting challenge over at Analogue Hobbies to begin and I'm as pleased as punch as I've been looking forward to this immensely! I really enjoyed last years challenge and so I am very happy to participate again!

This year Curt decided on the theme of the 47 Ronin inspired by the 310th anniversary of the attack. This of course means there are 47 competitors with me being the 5th Ronin. This is going to be great as it's twice as many participants as last time making competition likely to be red hot! This will really put a work load on Curt and so support him when you can please. The only requirement other then signing up was to paint Curt a Samurai figure which I'm currently finishing up.

Basically, your awarded points for each figure you fully paint and base and whoever has the most wins. I of course don't have a chance of winning as I'm not a especially fast painter like the lighting brushes of Kent(sadly not in this time) and the current reigning champion Ray, but that's fine as I mostly do it to motivate myself to get figures done and the fact that I really do enjoy the sense of participating in something special in our community.

Since not everybody can win Curt has come up with a clever idea of keeping painters motivated by trying to meet or beat a personal point goal set before the competition. Since I only managed a pretty low 442points last time around I decided to really challenge myself (probably over did it!)and decided on 1,000pts! Now this is over double what I did last time around and if I meet this I'll be very happy indeed! 

Prizes are awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place and recognition for People's Choice, Challenger's Choice, Sarah's Choice and Judge's Choice.

The points are awarded as follows:

6mm foot figure = 1 point
6mm mounted figure, artillery piece or crew served weapon = 2 pts
6mm vehicle = 3 pts

15mm foot figure = 2 pts
15mm mounted figure, artillery piece or crew served weapon = 4 pts
15mm vehicle = 6 pts

20mm foot figure = 4 pts
20mm mounted figure, artillery piece or crew served weapon = 8 pts
20mm vehicle = 12 pts

28mm foot figure = 5 pts
28mm mounted figure, artillery piece or crew served weapon = 10 pts 
28mm vehicle = 15 pts

54mm foot figure = 10 pts
54mm mounted figures, artillery piee or crew served weapon = 20 pts 
54mm vehicle, limber, etc. = 30 pts 
Other scales and miscellaneous models/figures will be scored on a submission-by-submission basis.

This is going to be fun and I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone submits!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Operation Squad the game and a report


 A couple friends of mine(Mike, Franz) played a game of  Operation Squad on Sunday. It was a fantastic fun game as always! The game was at my house and so we used the terrain from my collection. Since Mike hasn't yet built troops for this game we used my figures with Mike taking the US Airborne and myself the Fallschirmjäger. Franz provided the vehicles and took the role of rules checker and impartial referee to help out with any grey areas and help game flow. Please check out Mikes blog here for pics of the game if you see different angles.

Operation squad is as one would suspect a game based around squad level gaming with generally between 9 and 12 figures a side and if you wish a vehicle or two on a roughly 4ft x 4ft or 4ft x 5ft table. It takes roughly 2 hours to play with experienced players or 3 hours depending on the scenario and level of tactical play.

To establish who goes first each turn a roll is made and the winner can choose to start or pass. Once this is decided the active player chooses a model or vehicle to activate and then the opposing player chooses a model or vehicle as a reaction and then the active player may choose another model to activate and then the other player etc. until a maximum of three activations per side have been reached. Rolls are then made for each figure to establish priority in deciding who gets to do their action and in what order. When all actions have been completed then the opposing player begins the new round. This procedure continues until all models have been activated from each at which point a full turn is then considered complete.

Movement is calculated by your action for example moving carefully is 10cm, move and engage 15cm and run 20cm of which all can me modified by terrain.

Things like line of sight are determined from eye level where it matters as you don't always need line sight to target models for example mortars and waiting for the enemy to come into view before shooting which of course penalties/bonuses will applied for these situations.

When deciding if a weapon has hit and wounded a target a roll is made with the offensive capabilities of the weapon(usually 3 dice plus extra dice for range proximity) + combat value of the shooter  vs the defensive modifiers of the target (typically terrain, model hidden, running, or not seen when targeted plus others). The difference in the dice roll off is then compared to a small chart for the result (Nothing happens, pinned, wounded, KIA).

Once a squad reaches 4 or 5 men out of action each squad member must test for bottling out and those left can continue to fight. Game winner is decided by the scenario where points are usually awarded for objectives and number of enemy knocked out or of course if a player throws in the towel.

Some criticisms of the game have been the number of markers need to play the game along with the look of the markers included in the book which are pretty garish if truth be told. I personally do not like anything on my table that doesn't look semi natural (ie. no paper, coloured baubles etc.) and always look for ways to build markers that are both easily identifiable as to their meaning, but also do not detract from the table and if possible even blend in. So for example I'll show you things I did below for this game.

 Everything is on an euro 1cent piece.

Activated counters are simply dirt and grass.

Hidden markers I added a bush.

Pinned markers I used stones.
Wounded markers are a red flower.
Weapons and ammo boxes/crates are for jammed or out of ammo markers.
Lost helmets and equipment are for run markers.

 I've played about 10+ games of Operation Squad and my opinion is it's my favourite WWII game for several reasons. It's easy to learn, but chalk full of new tactics to be used making each game unique. The game has plenty of risk and reward to heighten the drama and cause you to think over each decision. The game flows very nicely and at a good pace.The game plays like the period and really gives you the feel of the period without becoming bogged down in too many details which destroy game flow.

As a notorious wargaming butterfly another part that really appeals to me is the low figure count which not only allows you to paint up your forces quicker to play, but realistically allows you to collect several specific theatre based squads for things like Stalingrad, Normandy, North Africa, Pacific etc. , climate uniforms winter, summer  etc.

So, a little about the game.

Somewhere in Normandy with a old cottage and prominent hill that is prime real estate for an Observation point.  

The scenario we decide to play was Take the Hill which comprises 8 turns.

Victory points:

9 pts for the hill
3 pts. for the building
1 pt. for each enemy model eliminated

If the difference in pts is 5 or less then it's a draw and anything else the player with the most points is the declared winner.

The forces were if I remember correctly:

Veteran US Airborne Squad(All American)

1x Sergeant with Thomson sub machine gun, MK II Pineapple grenades
1x Corporal with Thomson sub machine gun, MK II Pineapple grenades
1x Medic with M1 Garand semi automatic rifle, MK II Pineapple grenades
1x Paratrooper with BAR M1918A2 Automatic rifle, MK II Pineapple grenades
1x Paratrooper with a Bazooka and a Colt 1911A1 pistol, MK II Pineapple grenades
1x Paratrooper assistant to Bazooka with M1 Garand semi automatic rifle, MK II Pineapple grenades
5x Paratroopers with M1 Garand semi automatic rifles, MK II Pineapple grenades
1x M20 Armoured Car

Veteran Fallschirmjäger Squad(All are Seasoned Fighters)

1x Sergeant- MP40 Sub-machine gun, Stg 39 grenades
1x Corporal- MP40 Sub-machine gun, Stg 39 grenades, Binoculars
1x Medic with Kar98K rifle, Stg 39 grenades
1x Fallschirmjäger with MG34 light machine gun, Stg 39 grenades
1x Fallschirmjäger Assistant to MG34 light machine gun,with Kar98K rifle, Stg 39 grenades
1x Fallschirmjäger with a Panzerfaust and Kar98K rifle, Stg 39 grenades
1x Fallschirmjäger with Fg42 automatic rifle, Stg 39 grenades
4x Fallschirmjäger with Kar98K rifles, Stg 39 grenades
1x Sdkfz 231 Armoured Car

The two pics of the troops didn't come out very well and so if you want a better view check out my 28mm WWII label where I have some better ones. Sorry about the inconvenience.:-(

I won't do a blow by blow account of the game as I didn't take pictures in that order, but I will give a quick report of the game itself.

After set up it became clear both of us were going strong on each of our right flanks with Mike looking to control the house and myself the hill. The fighting for the house involved plenty of firing back and forth with the Airborne tossing grenades and using the M20 in attempt to push the few Fallschirmjäger's out who while not causing much casualties did manage to hang in there tying up a good portion of the Airborne and armoured car for a good portion of the game.

Meanwhile over on the hill things got very bloody indeed with rifle fire, grenades and close assaults really elevating the drama! Eventually the numbers and 231 armoured car of the Fallschirmjäger's overpowered the Airborne and the Germans claimed control of the hill.

With the Americans at 7 out of action to the Germans 3 and the hill lost and the building still being contested at the end of the 7th turn the American decided withdrawing was a prudent course of action
at that point. End result was a pretty clear German victory.

I think Mike fought a great game, but I was bit luckier when I needed to be and so in the end I managed to prevail. More then anything I just enjoyed playing the game with the guys and look forward to another!

Here are a few pics of the game in no particular order for your enjoyment or at least I hope you enjoy them! Also, you can see how the markers work on the table.

Thanks for reading this long post!:-)

Airborne Sergeant making sure he read the map correctly and has his men ready to advance.

FJ Sergeant and MG34 team looking to occupy the cottage.

"Look Corporal Meyer we can walk on fields!" As gamers sometimes we have turn a blind eye to things.:-)

"Heads left Armoured car" Airborne advancing on the hill.

Airborne advancing cautiously through some small woods.

FJ's and 231 armoured car securing small woods, before advancing on the hill.

"I got just the thing to get them out of the house sarge!"

Airborne taking up an advantageous position to monitor the road and cottage.

FJ's moving up through small woods and undergrowth.

FJ's getting ready to make a move from the woods to the hedge line.