Monday 23 March 2015

The French War Machine Rumbles On

I still haven't lost interest in my Bolt Action French force.

Following the poetic justice of my last game, Pete was keen to have a rematch and attempt to regain some dignity.

I managed to find the time to get a couple of additions to the force ready, in the form of a light anti tank gun, and a medic.

I used a similar technique with basing the AT gun as I did with the light howitzer previously - one crewman is glued to the base, but the other is held in place with a magnet so he can be removed as a casualty.

In this case, I gave the second crewman a small base, which gave space for a larger magnet and seems to work much better - I think I'm going to have to redo the basing for the howitzer crew at some point.

All of which has so far been slightly pointless, as the only effective fire against either gun has completely wiped out the crew!

I need to add the foliage to the bases, but these were finished enough to be used on the table.

This still moves my totals for 2015 in the right direction - I'm now at:

Painted - 43
Bought - 22

So, the game. No pictures this time, so I'll keep this short.

I was able to report to Pete on the day of the game that we could now go up to 600 points as I'd done some more painting. He decided to add a tank, not realising that half of the extra 100 points I had ready was now an A/T gun.

We used the same 4'x3' table setup as last time (with the same terrain in place, we just changed ends), and this time rolled Envelopment as the scenario. Pete chose to defend, so my very defensive army with two field guns would need to cross the length of the table.

I set up so that the guns were in the middle, aiming up the road, and two squads would go up the right flank with the officer and medic. My final squad went left. In both cases I intended to use a building as cover and then go through it to reach Pete's half of the table.

On the right, I had a disastrous assault which cost me a squad (even though I should have had the advantage), and the survivors assaulted and killed my officer, although he did avenge himself and wipe out the remains of the German squad at the same time. I had reached the building on this side with the second squad, which were then able to move up through another building, and eventually make it off the table despite taking some heavy casualties. The artillery observer was also able to make it off in the same way, but the medic wasn't so lucky and was cut down as he tried to make his escape.

On the left the SS reached the building first. I backed off from the building rather than assault the SS, but they left the building and gunned down all but the NCO at point blank range. The NCO ran for it, sneaking around the building into Pete's half of the table and even shooting one of the German mortar crew. He was eventually caught and killed by the SS, but this did take them another 3 turns of shooting, tying them up to allow the others to escape.

My big guns weren't as effective this time. The howitzer eventually managed to take out Pete's machine gun, but this took a long time, and eventually it fell victim to the German mortar. The anti tank gun only managed a single hit in the whole game, but fortunately this was enough to wreck Pete's tank, which had been lurking at the back and failing to hit things.

In the end then, I'd wiped out 4 of Pete's units and escaped with 2 of mine, for 10 VP.
Pete wiped out 5 of my units... for 10 VP.

A draw! Not as good as last time, but Pete has still failed to beat the French, after all his big talk...

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Vaincre les envahisseurs! Bolt Action AAR

The post title comes from Google Translate, so it's not my fault if it's actually gibberish.

As advertised in my previous post, I used my French for the first time in Bolt Action at the weekend, against Pete's Germans. There was a lot at stake, since Pete (and Kieron in fact) had been gleefully informing me that I'd be surrendering a lot since I first started buying French models, so I needed to deliver some poetic justice.

Since I only had 500 points' worth painted, that was how many we played, on a 4'x3' table.

The scenario, rolled for randomly, was demolition. We would each need to reach a point in the opposite deployment area, and have a model there at the end of a turn, to win. We represented these bases with ploughed fields - which as it turned out made more sense at Pete's end of the table than mine, since it resulted in a ploughed field which extended across a road. Maybe something had been buried there.
We played lengthwise, and banned outflanking (since with a narrow table that would allow outflanking units a big advantage). Otherwise, we stuck to all the normal rules.

My force was slightly unusual, but at least contained enough infantry units to be vaguely viable:

2nd Lieutenant
8 man squad with LMG and VB launcher
8 man squad with LMG and VB launcher
8 man squad with LMG and VB launcher
Forward Artillery Observer
Light howitzer (free!)

If I had more painted, I don't think I'd have tied up 100 points in a single model for the artillery observer, but that was what was available.

From memory I think Pete had:

2nd Lieutenant
7 man squad with LMG and SMG
7 man squad with LMG and SMG
7 man squad with LMG and SMG
6 man SS squad with some SMGs
Medium Mortar

I was surprised to discover that the Germans aren't allowed to take snipers in the Battle of France selector. That was a relief for me, as I'd been concerned that my artillery observer would be unlikely to survive long enough to call in a barrage, and had been trying to figure out where I could place him and have him be safe from sniping. As it was, he was able to lounge in the upper floor of a building and wait for a target.

The howitzer takes careful aim at Pete
Since the demolition scenario allows you to deploy only half of your force (with the rest in reserve), I put the observer in his building, the howitzer guarding my objective and looking down the road, and a squad behind a wall, ready to move up towards the observer's building.

French infantry bravely hide behind a wall
Pete had his MMG covering the road, his mortar on the objective off on one side with his SS, and another squad on the other flank.

The first die drawn was Pete's, and he began an artillery duel between his mortar and my howitzer as each tried to range in on the other. His machine gun also opened up on the howitzer, and his infantry ran forwards while keeping out of sight behind the buildings.

I astounded myself with the realisation that in stringing themselves behind a wall, my unit had engineered a situation where they'd get further advancing (as they could hop the wall) than by running (as they'd have to reach a gate). So they did that, getting into the open in front of the building and firing ineffectually at one of the running German units.
The observer decided that he was so lucky to still be alive at this juncture, he'd better celebrate by requesting an artillery mission, and picked a point between the German MMG and mortar.

On the next turn my squad ran into the building, and the shootout between the howitzer, mortar and MMG continued to no effect.
Reserves arrive, and position themselves
where they can actually get forward this time
The artillery barrage didn't appear, so the SS squad ran from it and assaulted the troops in the building - wiping them out but being reduced to only 2 men themselves. As my reserves started to arrive, I sent a unit to plug the gap from the assault, moving them first behind the wall and then into the open, merrily blazing away at the building. This didn't achieve much, but the return fire from the two SS troopers was clearly a bit much for the French to take, and they spent the next three turns pinned down and taking casualties, unable to move up to the building.

Sneaky Germans advance through the woods and behind a building
Plucky French reserves run from cover to cover

My remaining reserves arrived on the other flank, where Pete's advancing squads were in danger of reaching their objective unopposed. This left the French in the open when the first of Pete's squads came round the corner of the building and opened up on them at point blank range, and I lost half the squad. They returned fire but didn't do too much damage, and the Germans then tried their luck in assault. This went badly for Pete - he failed to cause a single casualty and his squad was wiped out, and the French squad moved around the building they'd just been attacked from.

An extremely close range firefight
Here, they were able to gun down the German lieutenant, who had crept up to the building and looked like he would make a run for the objective from the other side.

I forgot to take photos for a while, but here's a mortar
that's been so heavily pinned, it's turned blurry.
In the meantime, my artillery barrage hit home, pinning the German mortar and seeing off the machine gun team. This left the howitzer able to switch targets and maul one of Pete's reserve squads as it moved up, with the remnants now pinned and facing the remnants of my advancing squad. With his job done, the artillery observer attempted to leave the building, only to be killed by the two SS men on the ground floor.

Sensing he was needed, the French lieutenant ran across to join the squad facing off against the SS, and finally convinced them to press home an assault into the face of the SMGs. The French managed to take the building - but with only the LMG gunner left standing. The lieutenant, evidently not good with the sight of blood, sidestepped the building and ran around to the other side of it.

The last German reserve squad, which had taken until turn 5 to stop arguing about where the battle was supposed to be, finally arrived, and ran up the road in a confident fashion, at which point they were blown to smithereens by the howitzer.

The howitzer crew watch for any more juicy targets
Surviving troops edge forward
The lone survivor of the building assault creeps out
This left just 4 Germans cowering behind a wall, at point blank range from 4 Frenchmen... with neither side able to hit the other. The Germans, heavily pinned, tried to move away to try to stop the French lieutenant from reaching the objective, but couldn't pass the orders test. The howitzer, just to confirm that it was the best 0 points I'd ever spent, hit the squad and wiped them out. With all the Germans now dealt with, the lieutenant was able to reach the objective and so achieve the mission.

The lieutenant appears at the end to grab all the glory

My first run out with the French had resulted in victory!

More blurriness. It got a bit emotional.
This was especially good news as it meant I was able to hand Pete the card I'd prepared earlier.

Sympathy cards aren't normally used for revenge, but it works for me.

I did take a couple of lessons from this game. First, one I already knew really - bigger infantry squads are just better! Had Pete's SS squad been 8 men instead of 6, for example, I'm not sure I'd have got through them in the end. Having 8 men to Pete's 7 gave me an edge on the other side of the board too.

Second, don't forget direct fire for artillery! It occurred to me after the game that I could probably have hit Pete's machine gun with the howitzer on the first turn, rather than trying to range in on the mortar for 3 turns.

I'm still painting and building on this force, so expect more games, if I can find an opponent after this that is...

Friday 13 March 2015

Yet more French infantry

AEven I'm starting to lose interest in these blog posts.

Unfortunately for you, I haven't yet lost interest in painting my Bolt Action French, so you're going to have to suffer through more of this for the time being.

Here's the latest batch. This gets me to the 500 point force I need for my inaugural French game tomorrow.

On taking this picture I realised I hadn't done the rims of the bases.
It's ok though, I've done that now. You can relax.
The force I'll be using is unfortunately not a sensible one, as it's limited to what I have painted, but it at least gives me a chance to try these guys out and see if I can start to work out some tactics for them. They don't have access to some of the obvious ways I was using the partisans, so that should make things a bit more interesting.

Totals so far for 2015:
Painted: 39
Bought: 22

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Some Friendly Support...

... would probably be nice!

On arriving at Pete's at the weekend for the latest installment of our Star Wars Imperial Assault campaign (almost every game of which so far can be summed up as "the rebels didn't move fast enough and therefore lost"), I was presented with an envelope, containing this card:

Is blood red a bit weird for this sort of card?

Which on the inside reads:

I've just realised Pete wrote "the" instead of "this" on the last line. Loser!
Alright, that is actually pretty funny. Although it is now imperative that the French win their first game against Pete this Saturday. 

Unfortunately, there's a good chance that won't be the case, so I'm going to prepare my list of excuses now. Here goes:
  1. I'm severely limited in what I can take, since I've not got a huge amount painted yet. What I do have is a legal 500 point army, but probably not one you'd pick if you had free rein.
  2. It's the first time I've used the French, so I haven't developed an understanding of how to use them effectively yet.
  3. Pete may well give his officers and/or attendants StG-44 assault rifles, which weren't even designed until 1943, and my list is from 1940.
  4. I was distracted by a bird/moth/antelope/meteor at a crucial moment.
  5. The sun is in my eyes.
  6. We're playing at Pete's house so he has a home field advantage.
  7. I don't speak enough French to order my troops properly.
  8. I've put this army on bigger bases than my partisans, and it's thrown off my depth perception.

Yeah, something there should definitely cover it.

Oh, and I've painted some more models! Yet more French I'm afraid, so these pictures are starting to get a bit repetitive.

If only they could understand what I'm saying.
We also went to Hammerhead a couple of weeks ago. Probably not one we'd go back to in a hurry - we mainly go to shows for the traders, and there just aren't that many there. However, it did enable me to buy - you've guessed it - more French! I picked up another squad (so I now have 4 and can use the free inexperienced squad rule if I want to) the new HQ pack from Warlord, and a Crusader anti tank gun. This gives me enough for a couple of variations at 1000 points - just need to get everything painted. Fortunately, at this stage my motivation with these is holding out, so I need to get as many of them done as I can before that changes.

Totals so far for 2015:
Painted: 36
Bought: 22

Thursday 5 March 2015

The Lead Mountain Reduction Challenge - the Results!

Exciting times indeed! The 6 Month Lead Mountain Reduction Challenge has finished (I think)!

It's time to have a look at what I accomplished.

Things started off well, with a brigade of US Civil War Union fellas. This turned out to be a project that stalled though - no more those have been painted yet, and we've only had one game, which was really just a taster thing.

Still no flags. I even bought some, and now I can't remember where they are.
Then, I focused on my partisans (who have started to moonlight as volkssturm now as well) for a while. All told, I painted 11 men and 3 bomb tokens for those, which helped to round out the force. There's still more to do there, but I think that one's going onto the back burner for now.


I got a bit more paint onto my moderns, painting a fireteam and an officer for my Chinese People's Liberation Army. This actually allowed me to try out Force on Force with Wes, and we'll want to do more of that.


Zomtober made an appearance again, this time with a focus on survivors, so I added Shotgun Suzie, 4 riot cops, and 2 beat officers with a car to the pile.

Finally, my new obsession is the French army for Bolt Action. It's yet to take the field, but it's already the subject of many "hilarious" jokes from Pete and Kieron about surrendering, who are obviously just taking advantage of the fact that it hasn't had the opportunity to beat them yet. I have 500 points of this force ready now, and the models bought to get me to 1000.

The painting for these consists of 18 infantry, an officer, a light howitzer and crew, and a forward observer. I have another 7 models in progress now, but they aren't finished so don't count for the challenge (probably).



Overall then, that's a total of 45 men, 1 woman, 3 tokens and a car in 28mm, plus a 6mm brigade. So, a decent chunk out of the lead mountain, right?

Well, er, no.

In the same period I bought 3 mounted police, 4 SWAT guys, and a total of 54 Frenchmen, 2 guns and a mortar. I was also given a tank for my birthday, and most recently a chap with a shotgun courtesy of Kieron. Warlord customer service weirdness resulted in a second mortar.

The lead mountain actually grew by about 20 models during the lead mountain reduction challenge.


This is why I'm now more determined than ever to stick to my goal for 2015 of painting more models than I buy! Look out for another post, hopefully soon, on how that's going.