Monday, December 24, 2012

SU 76s finished.

The latest addition to the 20mm WW2 Spearhead Soviet army (for 1043) is these two SU76 SP guns. The kits are by UM - here is a review of the kits. These vehicles form a light SP regiment supporting a 1943 Russian Tank Corp attack list. I have four on the list but two will do for now.

As with their 76mm guns, these are 'modellers' kits. This kit comes with photo etched detail that simply went too far for me, and I chose to leave most of these parts off. The fit of many of the parts was superb, but I have to confess that this is the first kit set that I have ever assembled that came with individual track links, certainly not this war gamer's ideal solution to accurate track assemblies for AFVs. The last time I assembled individual track links was on the real thing during my army days serving on M113 APCs.

I had always thought of the SU76 as an open topped SP, and so was surprised to see this as a fully enclosed version of the famous vehicle. Having said all of this, they appear to be almost the only 1/72 or 1/76 version of the vehicle available, and I am happy with the end result. Just a couple of 122mm artillery guns to go and the project is pretty much wrapped up (unless I decide to add an aircraft,... or some SU122s, or... oh bother!!).

This is most likely my last post for the year.. whatever your preference for the holiday season, I hope you have a happy and safe one.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Warpath 2.0

We played our first game of Warpath 2.0, the latest play test version of Mantic's SciFi rules set. We had previously played Warpath 1.0, and frankly weren't that impressed, but I did download the latest version 2 Beta test edition anyway. Reading the rules set I felt that they had promise, but as always with these things it's often only when you get to push plastic around on the table that you start to think deeply enough, and maybe uncover flaws that might otherwise not have occurred to you.

Tonight's experience wasn't one of those 'hmm, well that might work' experiences. It was one of those 'Aha, GW you have some serious opposition here' experiences.

Game play begins with initiative, and uses an activation system to move units on each side. The system begins with first unit activation occurring automatically, the second and third units becoming more difficult to activate, requiring successively more difficult die rolls. The player always has the choice of passing on activation to the opponent once the first unit has been activated and this is a significant subtlety in the system. It is better by and large to pass on the second activation because a failed activation test on a unit means that that unit sits idle for the remainder of that turn. The skill lies in determining when it is worth the risk to try to activate additional units.

Many of the Kings of War systems carry over into Warpath, with nerve tests and firing procedures using the same methodology..

A significant difference lies in the removal of individual figures in Warpath. This fits with the style of the game. Kings of War is much more a unit based game, whereas Warpath is more akin to a skirmish level game.

The game played quite quickly,  we were only 'messing around' with 700 points per side. The nerve test system under which a nerve test required that the firer inflict 50% casualties base on strength at the start of the action means that units tend to hang around for some time. Consequently there is more to 'play for' in the game beyond the first 2 or 3 turns. It also means that support weapons can play their correct role. Units can be 'softened up' so that they are more likely to fail a nerve test later in the turn, or they can be 'prepared' for a later assault within the turn.

We will play Warpath 2.0 again. We feel that this is a game shaping up to replace Warhammer 40K on our gaming table.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

That was HotT Carnage for another year

Today's big event was the annual HotT carnage tournament (the 5th). Six players took the field, and below is an assortment of photos of the day.

First up, the highlight of the day was Mark O's new army: a 'My Little Pony' army, a powerful combination of knights and an aerial hero..

Gordon had added to his Dwarven army with these great Dwarven riders, and a God.. who else but Thor.

Some more shots of the Ponies, against Nick G's Numidians (whose God came... and went..)

Nick G then took his VSF army against Nick S's African safari army.

Nick's stronghold.. a water hole with resident hippos.

More shots of the Ponies against the Dwarfs.

Mark faced Nick's African army, and went down in his only defeat of the day when Nick battered his way through Mark's army to the point where Mark had lost 11 APs and Nick 10. Nick finally got through to Mark's stronghold.. all over, rover!!!

Gordon trotted out his Vietnam Aircav army for his last two games.. a few shots here just because I love the Iroquois flyers.. (sounds of 'Ride of the Valkyries' here)!!!

Gordon was facing Nick G's Rhaetian Goblins in their last game.

On came Gordon's dragon, C130 (??) equipped with chain guns.. ouch

Nick G's last game using his Undead against Kevin's Adventurer army...  loved these wee flyers..

It didn't however end well for the Undead when Kevin's Aerial Hero ( a former WW1 ace and all that, eh wot??) attacked Nick's newly arrived dragon.. scaredy cat, Mr Dragon!!

Thanks to Mark O, Nick G, Stan, Gordon, Kevin and Nick S for playing, and congratulations to mark who won the tournament, making it twice in the same year.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wild African animals like bones.. rats!!

Annual HotT Carnage tournament tomorrow, and Nick has traveled up to Christchurch from Dunedin to play. Being a little rusty, he asked for a couple of practice games, and this was the first. He is using his African safari animal army, and I chose to use my Undead army ... an army made up of assemblages of bones, fighting an army of wild animals. I should have known that this wasn't going to end well...

I deployed with my centre secured by 2 stands of zombie dogs (beasts in the rough going, with Hordes and hooters on the right and my Hero and Blades on the left. Two Magicians sat behind, waiting to hurtle magical devastation at the enemy.

The Magicians began their incantations, raising the forces of chaos from beneath the ground.

The air reverberated as bolts of magical power zapped through the air, sending one of the two units of flyers (vultures) hurtling to their doom.

The rest of the force advanced, Behemoth general and Lion Hero in the battle line.

Gorillas (Beasts) advanced towards the Undead flank.

Zombie Hordes shambled forward on the Undead right.

The Hero destroyed one of the units of zombie dogs... ahhh, bones..

But the Undead hero shifted to fill the gap.

Before his very eyes the African Hero disappeared, the result of powerful forces of magic.

In quick succession the Zombie Hordes and the undead shooters disappeared before their general's eyes.

The Undead Hero struck again and a unit of Rhino Knights fell beneath his  deadly blades.

With a '6' the Hero broke the magic shackles that had bound him to the netherworld, and appeared to assault the Undead Stronghold.

And in short order the battle was over.

Carnivorous animals against an army of bones? I should have known that this wasn't going to end well.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Artillery support for the 20mm Russian force

The mainstay of Russian artillery battalions during the Great Patriotic War was the 76mm Zis 3 gun, and no Spearhead Russian force would be complete without them.

Normally most artillery in Spearhead games is off-table, so there is no need for the actual gun models. However the difficulties in gaining artillery support with Russian forces (perhaps more correctly the inflexibility of the artillery in tactical terms) means that I have fought games in which the guns rarely see action. I therefore tend to model the artillery battalions on-table. This way, careful deployment means that even if your observers find it difficult to acquire the support of their guns, the guns are present and able to fire direct in response to threat (albeit at a much reduced range). They often guard my flanks - a slightly precarious existence if you are an artillery battalion gunner or commander.

They are deployed in mixed battalions with two 76mm gun stands, and one 122mm gun stand in a battalion. Last week I acquired the models for the 76mm guns from Stan. These are the UM models, and were quite an eye opener for me. In my opinion these are 'modellers' kits. The detail is finely molded, the detail excellent. Many parts fitted so well there was no need for glue ... I don't recall ever buying a kit with such precision assembly. I've also never before bought a 1/72nd or 1/76th scale kit in which the wheels come with separate tyres.

They certainly are great kits, it's just that I'm in this as a 'gamer rather than a modeller.. I prefer those fast assembly kits. But if you are a modeller, or a 'gamer with a little more modelling patience than me, you'll love them

I also bought two UM Su76 self propelled guns... these look equally as precise (read 'fiddly' for my large fingers). These are next onto the painting table - this may take quite some patience!!.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The road to Gumbinnen 1914

Rennankampf's 1st Army had crossed the Prussian border five days ago. The town of Gumbinnen lay a day's march away, and III Corps troops were convinced that Prussia was theirs for the taking. III Corps' divisions were settling in for another day's advance when German troops were detected to their front.

The Russian 3rd Division, a reserve division, edged forward capturing a small village to its front before occupying a wood beyond the village.

It's attached regiment of 76mm Putilovs deployed ready to offer support.

The centre of the advancing German forces was quickly targeted by divisional artillery attached to the left flank 4th Division, the gunners quickly pinning an entire battalion of German infantry.

The right flank Russian 3rd Division then pushed forward to apply pressure to the German left flank. This was to be the focus for the ensuing action.

The German divisional commander had anchored his left flank on a local village.

The Russian Corp commander ordered the advance to be resumed, and one Regiment of his left flank 4th Division began their advance against the German centre.

Action was heating up on the Russian right as the 1st Regiment of its 3rd Reserve Division pushed forward. Troops had occupied a small copse, but came under heavy German artillery fire.

A prolonged fire fight ensued, with the Russian regiment pushed to hold on (surviving it's first morale check).

The regimental commander was eventually granted supporting fire from the Corp 4.8" guns, and casualties quickly mounted in the German regiment.

The German Regiment fell back, leaving the village to the Russian advance, and the German right flank hanging in the air.

The German commander ordered his 3rd Regiment to shift to the left to retake the lost village. However for only the second time in the day the Russian Corps artillery came into action. The gap in the centre of the formation below was left after five company stands were eliminated by the Russian guns.

The Russian advance in the centre had stopped in the dead ground before its objective, the high ground in the upper right of the photo below.

The Russian 3rd Division commander had ordered his attached artillery regiment forward, and finally the guns had unlimbered and brought direct fire down on the German regiment trying to move to shore up the German left.

The German forces had been out-shot and out-manoeuvred, and the German commander ordered a withdrawal before the advancing Russian troops. Gumbinnen lay to their rear. Tomorrow was another day.

This game was fought using the Great War Spearhead II draft rules, with Jon and Stan commanding the Russians and Germans respectively. I 'ran' the game to make sure that play flowed, making the repeated references to the rules that were required because we hadn't played GWSH for a couple of years.

The game gave a great reflection of combat in those early days of the war. References to Zuber and his accounts of early battles in the west describe fire fights lasting several hours, and in this case the focus of the action on the Russian right was just that, in this case the Russian regiment managed to win the fire fight before pushing the German forces out of their defensive position. There were several 'lucky' die rolls at the heart of the action here.

In scenario generation system terms, this left the Russians occupying three objectives to the German one, with one Russian regiment having been forced to take a morale test, while two German regiments had also done so. This gave the Russian commander a 6-1 victory.

As I said, it has been a while since we had played a GWSH game, and the game has been a timely reminder of why I love these rules so much. Both players were as rusty as me, and had for example forgotten the need to keep reserves. This meant that Jon as Russian commander lacked the capacity to exploit his tactical victory on his right, while Stan's attempt to shore up his left required a risky shift across the front of the Russian centre. Had he had a reserve, this could have been moved relatively safely to prop up his left..

Forcing the Uvarova

The vastness and the difficulty of the terrain through the Caucasus meant that by 1915 there were still avenues to be explored if victory wa...