Saturday, December 17, 2016

Eastern front Austrians .. again and again and again

Still filling gaps .. the 1914 Austrian army needs several more regiments fleshed out with infantry, having painted the HMGs to support them. Here is the first new regiment. I'm thinking of modifying my painting style a little, feeling less and less satisfied with the end result. I think that I am over-doing the whole - 'leave black undercoat showing in the creases' thing. Anyway, that's regiment number four out of the estimated six. However checking back I see one of the earlier ones is not complete, so the remaining figures I have will bulk out that regiment before I start on numbers 5 and 6.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Dielingdorf Ridge .. a tale of two plans!!

Somewhere in Northern Germany, near the town of Dielingdorf:

"So why the hell are we up here then, eh?"
"We just do as we're told."
"Yeah, but any bleeding moron can see this bloody ridge isn't going to hold with us stuck up the snout like a blooming bogie waiting to be wiped off'.
"You'll get yourself into more mischief if you don't shut up, Taffy." Trooper Jones sniffed lustily and re-settled his headphones more comfortably across his beret and around his ears, a streak of blond hair poking from beneath his beret.

"Yeah but look at it boyo. This bloody ridge points right at the bloody Soviets. When they come, we're gonna be at the sharp end, nothing surer. And here's us poked right out in front of the rest of the Brigade. Why so far forward, that's what I can't figure. No support, nothing."
"The boss'll have a plan, Taffy."
"And I have a funny feeling us dying is a part of that f***n' plan too".

Taffy and his mates are occupying the northern tip of the Dielingdorf Ridge at the front left of the photo

1st Battalion of the Brigade with two of it's attached Chieftain platoons

Chieftain platoon, supported by combat and Milan teams

The Brigadier did indeed have  a plan. Defend forward on the left at the tip of the Dielingdorf Ridge furthest away from Dielingdorf itself. Leave several heights undefended on the right as bait for the Soviet commander who would advance into a hail of fire in a deadly killing zone covered by Chieftains, Swingfire and Milan teams.

However the Soviet commander didn't take the bait, pushing a single motorised battalion into the empty space on the Brigade right.

Instead he attacked in strength on his right against the protruding Brigade left at the tip of the Dielingdorf Ridge.

"0A this is 11A contact tank wait out". Jones jumped in his seat. Another message came in just as quick.
"0A this is 13B, contact infantry wait out", and almost immediately
"0A this is 12C contact infantry wai...."
"Holy f**k" from Jones, "Here they come."

Two Soviet motorised battalions could be seen emerging through the early morning haze to the front of 1 Battalion. FV432 engines burst into life, Chieftain engines rumbled and crews sat in their turret down positions awaiting the first opportunities to engage an advancing enemy. The Royal Artillery observer was the first to draw blood, bringing down fire from his attached Abbot battalion, disabling a platoon of BTRs and forcing another to debuss and go to ground. One of the battalion's Milan platoons sent it's first barrage of missiles away, with a T64 platoon left smoking in the fields to the east of Dielingdorf Ridge.

Initially the position stayed strong, the Abbot battalion providing valuable fire support. The initial salvoes from the Milan and Chieftain platoons however didn't do the damage they should, and the Soviet advance continued.

Gaps appeared amongst the advancing Soviet platoons.

British platoons holding the extreme left

The Soviet battalions push forward against the main height of the northern end of Dielingdorf Ridge

Suddenly gaps appeared in the Battalion position, a combination of casualties from direct fire and artillery support. Swift British counter battery response silenced a battalion of SPG 152s, but they had already done damage to the defending combat teams.

And then the final ignominy as a third Soviet battalion swept onto the exposed flank of the brigade position. The Brigadier's plan had been completely unhinged.

The armoured regiment holding the Brigade's centre on the southern half of Dielingdorf Ridge had been ordered to shift position to counter attack the major Soviet advance against 1 Battalion.

But the damage had been done. 1 Battalion was unable to hold and the position along the entire ridge was opened up.

The Soviet Brigade commander surveyed the scene. Walking forward towards the burning wrecks of several British APCs and Chieftains his glance was drawn to one vehicle in particular in which a crew member had been trapped half out of the driver's hatch of the vehicle. Headsets dangled across his neck and his beret was caught in the cables, a streak of blond hair sticking from his head like a sheaf of wheat at harvest time.

This was a game of Modern Spearhead that Keith and played this weekend.  It encompassed all that is so good with both the Spearhead rules, and Keith's scenario generation system.

The rules pitched plan against plan, and Keith and I have a track record of each trying new ploys to out think the other. In this case I was 'hoist on my own petard' as the Bard said, my overly clever plan failing to tempt Keith into the killing ground I had set for him, and leaving my left flank defending far too far forward, susceptible to the flank march that I had thought wouldn't come.

The points system yet again set each of us that familiar dilemma, too few points we thought for the job in hand.

Despite a thorough thrashing, still a damned fine game and a great way to spend an evening.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Andy adds a couple of new behemoths

Andy is fast approaching the end of his major Big battle HotT army construction. He sent me these photos of two new behemoths - they model stone constructs pushed ahead by 'handlers'. The behemoths are 28mm figures.

He tells me he has one hero to complete, and then just the painting of the stronghold. What a wonderful project - great to see it all come to fruition.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Caruthers demands enquiry!!

The smell of battle, the smell of death, sloughed across the fields. The stench of blood lingered cloyingly in Winstanley's nostrils as he grudgingly placed one foot in front of the other. There a knot of blue and red clad bodies piled high and surrounded by a circle of semi naked bodies, their strange markings standing stark against the dead white flesh. A little further on whisps of smoke drifted up from the twisted and tangled remains of Lord Chelting's once glorious flying machine. Lord Chelting himself stooped over the wreckage, picking and prodding.

A tear marked its path down his blackened face. And where now the glorious, pompous yet endearing General Caruthers, last seen standing defiantly amongst the few survivors of his brave headquarters guard as the hideous flying saucer descended upon them for the third time?

A voice rose from the still of the scene. "Over here Sir". He raised his head towards the sound, a blue coated arm beckoning repeatedly. He quickened his pace, a reluctant viewer of what would undoubtedly be yet more despair.

There, beneath another all too familiar mound of bodies lay a form he recognised. Backs bent and hands pulled, eager to uncover the body of their leader, their hero, their idol.

"Gently there damn it all" a voice commanded. Winstanley bent towards the inert form, reaching his hand to cradle the head, when the eyes flicked open. "Get the bastards" the voice squawked. Winstanley's heart leapt, startled yet joyous to hear the voice.

"Sir, you are alive".
"Of course I am, damn your eyes Winstanly. Do ya think I'd bally well be talking to you if I weren't?" and the familiar huff whistled through his nostrils.

The day had begun in usual fashion, with breakfast. Even on campaign it always began with breakfast. Caruthers had issued his orders for the day, adamant that the hell fire and brimstone breathing half naked heathen extremists and their damnable magicians would be sent back to the fires of hell from which they had so obviously come.

The armies line up, Andy's Egyptians on the left, the British VSF on the right.

The battle lines advanced, and Lord Chelting in his wondrous machine took to the skies, swooping towards the enemy battle line, supported by one of the army's small flyers.

Meanwhile Caruthers held centre stage, advancing with his two glorious steam robots.
Caruthers urged his air force forward, and his two airboats joined Lord Chelting as they penetrated behind the enemy line.

The Egyptian aerial hero in his magical saucer came forward to challenge the threat behind his army's lines.

In the meantime Caruthers brought forward his glorious lancers, their flank protected by some of his mounted infantry riders.
 Pressure mounted on the Egyptian left, and the air battle behind the lines began in earnest.

Air battle begins in the upper left of the photo

Chelting's supporting flyer is destroyed, and Chelting is recoiled. he over flies the threat and the airboats come in in support

The airboats join the attack

Meanwhile Caruthers begins to make headway in the centre

A gap opens up in the centre of the Egyptian line

Lord Chelting comes back into the fray after one of his two airboats is destroyed

Only to fall victim to the aerial hero himself.

The tussle in the centre continues

And now Caruthers' airforce is supplemented with the arrival of his newest addition, a gleaming mechanical dragon

Meanwhile on Caruthers' right his lancers charge into action  against an Egyptian hero and a behemoth supported by archers

The dragon swops into attack the rear of an Egyptian wizard

And is defeated. The crew, afraid to lose their wonderful machine, given the pride with which Caruthers greeted their arrival, flee the battlefield for fear of losing their stripes (and their back pay)

The Egyptian aerial hero and small flyer attack the rear of Caruthers' line

And one of the wonderful steam robots crashes to the ground, letting off a hideous stream of steam

The aerial hero then attacks Caruthers himself from front and rear. In this case the archer unit attacking from the front was relatively easily repulsed.

On the right the knights, supported by Winstanley (hero) clean up the Egyptian left.

and Caruthers continues to make progress in the centre

Caruthers is then attacked by the aerial hero again.. and 
O... M.... G.. Caruthers is last seen fighting valiantly against  overwhelming odds  ... is all lost? And the centre is demoralised at the loss of their commander in chief.

Winstanley, seeing his idol fall to the aerial hero, swings around and charges furiously into the exposed flank of the Egyptian centre. he hacks, and slashes, calling forth other units to support him as he fights across the battle field to save his own hero.

The British left is also now making progress

And volleys of artillery fire ring out, bringing down more Egyptians.
Finally the Egyptian army breaks as the centre command becomes demoralised itself, and the day belongs to the British.

This was our second Big battle HotT game, with Andy's now near complete Egyptian army tackling my Victorian Science Fiction army. Andy had opted for an unusual deployment, putting most of his army into one large command that held the centre., He wanted to ensure that he always had sufficient pips to move his aerial hero (his CnC). On his left was a small command with his behemoths. This one was however held up by bad terrain.

Andy's big command theory almost worked. However just as he demoralised my centre command I managed to demoralise his largest command and so when added to his other losses meant that he had lost over half of his army, and more points than me. This was one of the two disadvantages of his big command theory. Interestingly the fact that he had one PIP die for the largest command (of course) wasn't as much of a problem as I would have thought.

This was yet another awesome game, and I have to say that despite the technical win, it was really an honourable draw.

That said, Caruthers is demanding an enquiry into the performance of his 'air force' with the loss of Chelting's wondrous machine (aerial hero) a flyer and one of the two airboats.

Watch out for more Big battle HotT action.

Pottering with a few more Ottoman figures

Finally, I've managed those extra Ottomans for the DBR army. They are 15mm figures, the arquebus are Minifigs (courtesy of friend Jim), ...