Friday, 18 September 2020

Playing Flying Lead - Brits vs Wehrmacht

 So for our final game of his visit, Alexander and I wanted to get out the 20mm stuff. Table space isn't great, so this led us down the route of Flying Lead. A squad each, a tank each, and a ton of terrain.

My battle mat was awful. I mean, I like it loads, but it does not agree with my Cromwell's tracks. It was like velcro. When we started the game, I remembered how much fun I find the activation and measurement systems. But...that was where the fun ended.

Advancing and taking pot-shots was fine. My Cromwell fired on the Panzer IV, and destroyed it. However, this whole system of tank vs tank combat was dreadful. Like there were tables that seemed to have no meaning. There were steps that seemed confusing, then actually weren't even necessary. Together we had to read the rules through a few times before we got it. And in the end it was just a case of the dice rolls having already finished the combat. Wasted reading.

Here are some of my Brits. I miss playing with them. I think this game, and getting all of my 20mm toys out to show Alexander has inspired me to search out a new set of low figure count WW2 rules. A squad of infantry vs a squad...but fun. We had no actual objectives in this game, which made it just a slug fest, which was annoying.

The Cromwell got Panzerschrecked. The Brits conceded after a game that was far too long for what it was. We should have just played a third game of Battlegroup.

Any suggestions of low figure count, small table size WW2 wargame rules are welcome. I will, however begin painting up my 20mm stuff more.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Battlegroup Overlord...with a real, human opponent.

I mean, this is amazing. I barely ever get to play with a human. I was heading that way, had rearranged my timetable and schedule to free up time to attend a local group...then lockdown. It was a shame. I hope to join at some point soon though. However, with my brother visiting, it gave us a chance to sit across a table from each other and fight it out. He is a recent convert to Battlegroup and describes them as everything he has looked for with a set of WW2 rules. I am inclined to agree. I don't like mass battles. I also struggle with a squad of infantry vs another squad...or at least with the rules I have. But Battlegroup, they give a great simulation of platoon level (and higher) combined arms actions. I genuinely love them and how they reward actual planning. I even enjoy building army lists, which is something I tend not to enjoy. List building is a  game within a game. Also, my brother is Alexander from The Player's Aid for those of you who may dabble in wargames that come all in one box.

We played two games of Battlegroup across the weekend. 

Game 1: About 330 points per side. I re-used two armies from my third game of Battlegroup. US were defending against a German assault. 

1 infantry platoon with an HQ squad, 3 rifle squads and 3 BAR teams
2 MMG teams
1 81mm mortar
1 57mm AT cannon + loader team
1 M8 Greyhound
3 M4 Shermans,

German Forces are as such:
1 Panzergrenadier platoon - 1HQ squad, 3 grenadier squads, 3 MG34 teams.
2 MG42 on tripod teams
3 Panzer IVs, one of which is an ace (making it elite)
1 StuG III

The US were holding a line. The objectives were the two woods in the centre of the table and the building on the southern side of the T-junction. They began with a 57mm gun overlooking the approaches to the village, a BAR squad and MMG team in the southern woods, with the same in the northern woods. They also held the centre building with a rifle squad with a BAR team in the field, along with the HQ.

The Germans advance with an MG42 team, rifle squad and I think the HQ. I can't remember. It has been a few days, and when playing with another person I found my note taking was not as thorough. I also didn't take as many photos.

After the initial German advance, the MMG team in the southern woods opened fire on the HMG, killing two of the crew, causing the final member to break and run.

This was a surprising first kill. A welcome one for the US though as it forced a chit pull right away. Alexander claims to have famously bad luck with his dice rolls, so maybe it is my game to win. We played some things wrong this game: for instance he didn't have to pull a chit even though I was holding objectives. Also I had a scouting unit and he didn't, meaning he should have also pulled a chit. 

The Germans advanced in an attempt to secure some cover and a good firing positions. The US northern flank advanced out of the woods to flank the Germans. A few firefights later and these units ended up pinned. 

I am guessing this was turn three, as if they are pinned, and his other unit is KIA then he has no more units to order and loses. But the game carried on, so I reckon there are reinforcements.

The cavalry have arrived! An advancing Panzer IV opened fire on the US flank, killing a GI. 

We did NOT arrange beforehand how many of the Panzer IV's ammo would be HE and AP. Not sure if you must do this, but we did do that for the next game.

The US infantry holding the house shattered the central German squad, causing them to retreat. Another chit pulled.

Another advancing Panzer IV. Caught out, it got brewed up by the 57mm cannon watching the road.

US Shermans arrived to help back up the infantry, but one got caught in the open on the road by the advancing Panzer IVs. It took a hit and was destroyed!

With the allies losing a tank, it was looking shaky, but luckily their commander focused on clearing out the advancing infantry, and managed to do enough, in order to bring the Germans past their breaking point. The attack was called off. A fairly straight forward US victory.

Game 2: the better game. I took more photos. We also decided beforehand to have a scenario of US attacking Germans who are in a defensive line. We also build our own armies in secret. It was incredibly fun trying to guess and second guess what Alexander might have chosen for his German defenders, analyzing our previous conversations about what goes well in a German defensive line.

In the end I decided to go crazy and try something entirely new. I went with a US Armoured infantry platoon, transported in M3s. 

US Armoured platoon: 2 squads of 10 men with a bazooka and BAR each. The command squad is identical. Then 2 MMG teams and a light mortar team. Transported in M3s. 
1x platoon of 3 M10 tank destroyers.
1x scouting M5 Stuart tank.
1x 105mm timed barrage by a battery of 4x105mm guns. I selected the centre of the crossroads at the beginning of turn 3.

Germans: A standard German platoon
2x MG42 teams (or just one)
1x light mortar
1x sniper and spotter (scout unit)
2x Panzer IVs
1x PaK 40
1x booby trap, in the building on the south-western corner of the crossroad, which is also an objective.

The US opened the attack by bussing on an infantry squad, right into the woods to face the PaK 40. The infantry unloaded and opened fire on the gun team, killing one of them, causing the rest to break and run. 

A great first kill. When Alexander failed the morale test and I read the result, it was hilarious. Deployed gun? Abandoned. Oh dear. Also, because we had equal numbers of scout units, no-one had to pull a chit. I did, however pull two chits before the game because the Germans were occupying two of them. The other was booby trapped.

Stupidly, the US commander ordered the M10 to advance and attempt to engage a Panzer IV. It was a failed attempt, and was punished swiftly and mercilessly! Both Panzer IVs advanced, and while a shot bounced off, a second shot penetrated, cooking off ammo.

An MG42 team occupying the south-eastern building opened fire on the command squad on the hill, causing 50% casualties! Luckily the squad held its resolve and kept going.

In response the M3 advanced to the edge of the woods and sprayed fire down on the occupied building, killing some and causing the rest of the gun crew to retreat!

But then disaster struck with an engine malfunction on the M5 Stuart, causing an engine fire! The vehicle had to be abandoned!

The chit pulled for the loss of the MG42 team was a Break Down chit. Neither of us had ever seen this before. I had to roll. With great anticipation I rolled, scoring a 6! I was super excited...until Alexander read out the disastrous result. Oh well.

Catching the M3 unaware, one of the Panzer IVs penetrated the shoddy armour with a round, destroying it completely.

We are standing at the end of turn 2! So much has happened. The US only has a half strength command squad on the table. Luckily Alexander was unable to get a suppressing shot onto them to end my attack there and then. And with Turn 3 beginning, I would be able to bring on reinforcements.

A screaming overhead announced incoming 105 rounds. Exploding around the crossroad, the sniper team dove for cover within their building, a Panzer IV was completely obliterated, while the other Panzer IV was left unscathed. Some luck for the US commander.

There were two pinning hits against the surviving Panzer IV but it passed the checks.

US infantry advancing up the northern flank took casualties from the sniper who put a round through the bazooka carrier. But an exchange of fire ended up killing the sniper team who was caught in a crossfire between a few units.

US reinforcements advanced up the southern flank, attempting to take on the Panzer IV who had retreated to the wooded hill (one of the objectives). The rocket bounced off the frontal armour, but caused the crew to check themselves. The tank became pinned.

Another attempt was made to knock out the Panzer IV, and this time was successful! I can't remember it if was the M10s who did the knocking out, or the bazooka team. With the flank open, an M3 charged up the hill to secure the objective, forcing a chit pull and ending the engagement. The German survivors would begin pulling back to another defensive line.

This final move felt a bit gamey. But overall, I love, love, love this game. It was a good laugh, and having surprise armies was really cool. I look forward to getting to do that again. Still loving 6mm at this sort of game level (platoon plus some armour).

This is the first time I ever used all of my smoke markers. It was touch and go for the US at the beginning and we were only 8BR away from breaking. The table was nice. We basically put all my terrain out and then took a couple of bits away to de-clutter the table. 

I took fewer photos because if felt rude and would have slowed the game. It was a school night and I didn't want to be up too late.

Bring on the next games.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Junk Build Spacecraft 3.0

 I finished my third junk build space craft a couple of weeks back, posted it on Facbook, but didn't blog it yet. So here she is in all her glory. Name ideas welcome.

Trying to book passage off this rock, while local security eye up the offworlders.

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Five Parsecs from Home Campaign - Mission 1. The Scavenging

So after the bug hunt on that nameless settlement, two teams of scavengers are going to have a rifle through. One team is the campaign team. The other team will just be goons. 

Here is my starting point for the crew and characters of the main scavenger team:

Augustus Holmes

Origin: Religious Cult
Motivation: Glory – defeat the strongest and become immortal!
Class: Hacker. Re-roll one hack/intrusion task per mission.
True Believer. On a BAIL result, move 6in towards the nearest enemy to initiate a brawl.

Aralay Brenko

Origin: Primitive/Regressed world. Off the beaten path. Low tech.
Motivation: Technology – The hunt for alien and advanced tech.
Class: UCS Agent. If fighting mutants, dissidents, anarchists, roll 1D6. On 1 or 6 add a goon with auto rifle.
Counter Attack. May reroll when attacked via brawl.

Ward Roberts

Origin: Lower class Mega City.
Motivation: Order. Disorder is bad. Must fix the universe.
Class: Bounty Hunter. Can find patrons on 1 or 6. This patron can only be used once.
Free Auto Rifle.


Weapons Available.
Ward Roberts’ free auto rifle. 1K 1S. May fire at any point in movement but only 1S. 2S when guard firing.
Hand gun. 1K 1S Range 12. Will win brawl on a draw.
Glare sword +2 brawl. Enemy within 4in of a kill roll 1S. If wielder is knocked down, 1D6. On 1 injure self and fo out of action.
Hand gun
Hand gun
Old fashioned blade (knife). +1 in brawl.

1 Frakk grenade
1 Dazzle grenade

Duplicator. Add a free grenade after each mission.

There will also be a couple of goons/grunts along for the ride, who may develop into characters as time goes on. I will be interested in leveling these characters up and seeing where to go.

I also have a viable solo play AI taken from a Facebook group all about solo gaming.

The Mission.
For this mission, Augustus Holmes is armed with a frakk grenade and hand gun. Ward Roberts has the auto rifle, while Aralay Brenko has a hand gun and the glare sword. They are accompanied by two goons armed with hand guns. 


The deep space listening device aboard The Pelican chattered away. Augustus Holmes was only half listening when he stumbled across the messages from a marine unit active in the Tavroid System. They had just successfully eradicated an infestation on a planet not important enough to have a name. If the crew of the Pelican didn't act fast, someone would get there before them. This settlement was within a three day flight. It was time to go. 

Landing a way off, and then leaving their transport hidden behind the trees, the crew advanced on foot into the settlement. It was time to search the place and look for that massive pay off, or failing that, enough junk to keep them flying for another little while.

Splitting up, Augustus, Ward and Malachi headed to the transport vessel to search what looked like  fresh supply drop. Meanwhile Aralay and Quentin went to search one of the habs.

A rumble in the distance. "We've got company!" Aralay called over to the rest of the crew. It was time to draw weapons and protect whatever haul they might be able to make.

As per scav law Aralay and Augustus fired a few warning shots towards the vehicle. It was the polite thing to do. I mean no-one liked to get sloppy seconds, but when the Pelican crew were done with this place these other scavs could have given the settlement a once over.

Not accepting second best, this scav crew jumped out of their vehicle and opened fire! 

Quentin dove for cover behind the hab, bullets thudding into the plasticrete. 

Three of the incoming scavs ran up to the hab, seeking cover behind it.

Augustus opened fire, shooting off some hot lead! His bullets caught an enemy scav, sending him sprawling on the ground, very still.

Aralay blasts on another crew member, sending her scurrying for cover behind their transport.

This was a FIREFIGHT. So no moving but lots of shooting.

The two enemy scavs behind their transport returned fire, causing Augustus and Aralay to dive for cover.

Augustus ran around the hab, managing to avoid getting shot! His own fire caused an opponent to seek cover.

Malachi decided to circle around to get a bead on the scavs hiding behind their transport, and then opened fire...killing one of them. Things were looking good for the Pelican crew! Hopefully this would all be worth it!

Aralay charged up to one of the other scavs, swinging her alien blade to great effect! It slid through flesh with ease. The scav crumpled to the ground.

The two remaining enemy scavs opened fire on Augustus, knocking him out of action. The rounds caught him in the flak vest, but with enough force to knock him out for the time being.

He was knocked out of action, but in the after game injury rolling, it was determined he was just knocked down, and will be able to be in the next mission, whatever it is.

One of the scavs fired on Malachi, who had to scurry for cover.

Aralay, inspired by her brawling success, charged down another scav, slicing him up with her humming blade.

She gets +1 for being attacker. Then +2 for having this alien blade. So she is almost always going to win a brawl.

Surrounded, outnumbered, seeing his team dead, the one remaining scav surrendered. After a discussion, it was decided that she could join the crew, but would need to be watched for a while.

Afterwards, having searched the entire settlement, the crew decided to remain here for a little while to rest and refit. It turned out the transport space craft was in much better condition than the Pelican, so while Augustus recovered, the others began the process of cannibalizing the Pelican and upgrading the new craft. Many, many government issue nutrirations were also found, which while unappealing, would keep the crew fed for a few months. The cargo hold of the new ship was also large enough to hold a larger ground vehicle, so they commandeered one of those found in the settlement. 

I liked this. The game lasted 40 minutes. The campaigny part is going on right now as I write this. Not sure what they will do just yet and it is nearly midnight so I will be calling it a day.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Iliada Game Studio order

I have been following Iliada Game Studios for a few years now, and one of my only regrets regarding my science fiction gaming is that I never ordered some of his original Mars miniatures, before he pioneered MDF miniatures. I don't know why I never pulled the trigger. For a while now I have been impressed with the laser-cut buildings, and now the Afterwinds setting. So, with birthday money in hand, I went online and put a tentative order in, expecting to be happy.

I was not disappointed.
I was unsure about the size of these, but they are cool. Annoyingly I tried straightening out a gun and snapped it. But I will just have a long barreled and short barreled gun.
This is how I expected it to be. Normal feeling MDF. I love the aesthetic, and am excited about having some oil drilling settlements.
I bought some doors and fans to add to buildings. I wanted the wind-turbine thing, and I wanted to try out a satellite uplink. They are so unbelievably thin. They terrify me!! However, online they look absolutely gorgeous. I might need to just think about how I store things now.

 This is the pack of "Mediterranean buildings". They will look good dotted around my galaxy. Again, very thin. But they look durable enough when built.

Ali kept me updated, and shipping was fast. It cost $15 to ship, which felt steep, but I didn't experiment to see when that $15 ticked higher. It might be more cost effective in the long run if I do larger orders.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Bug Hunt with 5Core

When did I buy 5Core? Not sure. Within the past few years. How many times have I played it? None times. Starport Scum is my go to small action fighting, and recently I thought I would bust out Clash on the Fringe, the original sci fi rules that I bought...and have since never used. But, while re-reading it, my copy of Five Parsecs from Home (also unused) fell out of the folder. I started reading that...then realised it is only a campaign making book, and the skirmishes need to be played via 5Core. So I set about reading those. To be honest, there was a lot in there, and I am not sure. I like some elements of it. Maybe even loads of elements. I am just unsure about it. Maybe I am scared of trying something new. 

Thus I decided to go bug hunting. Next game I will try and do a bounty hunting thing.

Another day, another hunt. Across the galaxy there are countless small settlements, where people from all backgrounds eek out an existence on the fringes of society. This place is another nameless-armpit-of-the-galaxy settlement. A few families with a ship and a dream. Places like this draw little to no attention from anyone other than the odd pirate or slaver raid. That is, until they do draw attention. 

In a room, in a basement, on another planet, equipment beeps. Listening posts like this are all over the galaxy, programmed to flag up certain words, phrases, or strings of code. One such string of transmissions contained enough to be sent on to an actual human. This desk jockey in turn pushed it up the line. And so on, and so forth and here we now were. A detachment of marines sent to the ass-end of nowhere to investigate.

Two squads of marines advance through the woods to find the small settlement.

At the lee of a mountain range, the small settlement seemed deserted. It was time to move on in, searching each building and the spacecraft.

I set it up that each turn, the marines would have a turn, then I would roll to see if a xeno spawned somewhere. Then, when they search a building, a roll of 1 would find a civilian, whereas a 6 would find a xeno.

One squad advanced up to one of the buildings.

One squad advanced cautiously up to the settlement spacecraft.

For activation then, to see what I would be able to do this turn, I rolled 1, which is "scurry". All my squad can activate and move, but may not fire or anything.

While searching the building a xeno burst out of the wall! Contact! 

So the marine who made a search action rolled a 6. Searching is instead of firing.

One marine backed up and opened fire, sweat dripping! It was Johnson's first combat mission. The xeno scurried for cover.

Hutchins, 1st squad's plasma gunner crept around the building to open fire again on the xeno, causing it to climb behind the building to shelter from the high powered fire.

In game terms, I rolled a 1 on a kill die, which means it was "knocked down" and would need to rally if it wanted to activate.

Suddenly the xeno ran up to Hutchins, causing him to panic and retreat into the woods. 

This was a brawl. Each rolls, and if attacker wins by 1, then the defender panics (retreats 6 inches). Attacker can then move 3 inches and brawl again. The xeno has the ability where it can roll two dice and pick the highest.

The xeno then moved on to attack Johnson, causing him to fall back behind the building.

This was a "follow up". It is quite powerful. I asked Ivan from NWG on Discord and he said that technically you can "follow up" as many times as the dice allow, so I could have done it a third time, but didn't.

Seizing the initiative again, the marines open fire...

This was actually because the turn type that the xeno rolled was a "Firefight" meaning no-one moves and everyone who can shoot shoots, on both sides. Because xeno can't do ranged fire, I allowed him to charge and attack. Four marines had LOS to the xeno so could fire. You can't shoot over another character's base. Time to get smaller bases amiright?!

...knocking the xeno down.

Xenos have an ability called "tough" where if they are knocked down, or out of action, then they can re-roll the kill die and if they score 1 or 6 then they aren't knocked down or out of action. If they get 2-5 then the original result stands.

Taking advantage of this momentary respite, Martinez unloaded almost an entire clip, splattering the alien across the sand, acid blood sizzling around its disintegrating corpse.

This might be the point at which I realised that if you are shooting at a target in the open and are within 12 inches then you add another 1K to your roll, doubling the chance of a kill.

With the immediate threat gone, second squad regrouped and carried on advancing to the building on the western edge of the settlement. 

Likewise, the main part of first squad advanced to the landing pad to take a closer look at the space craft. It looked like it had been mid-unload and the colonists are just...gone.

Second squad searched the building only to find a terrified settler who explained that he thought all the others were dead and he had been essentially holed up inside for two standard months eating nothing but ration cubes, waiting to be found and...well it didn't bear thinking about. He then scurried off, the isolation having done a real number on him. Poor sod.

While searching the spacecraft first squad again found another xeno! It was time for another showdown, but this time with a traumatized civilian in the mix!

Almost reflexively, Martinez let rip with another few bursts of fire! It caused the xeno to pause, and look for an easier target!

Again, the xeno was knocked down, but that doesn't sound too good in battrep narrative speak.

Recovering quickly, the xeno stormed over the half loaded truck right at Smith and Brown. Smith tried vaporizing the xeno with his plasma gun, but missed wildly.

This was reaction fire, when I discovered that you can only react to an action with one other figure. Shame.

The xeno leapt at Brown dismembering him without even a second glance!

It then pounced on Smith who also went down under a flail of limbs and assorted other members.

Johnson and Martinez both opened fire on the xeno as it approached them, both falling back with discipline, covering each other.

The xeno managed to catch Hutchins, who managed to fight free and fall back in an attempt to join his comrades. More marines joined the fray and this xeno was blasted apart by concentrated rifle fire.

Or at least I think it was. I don't remember it being killed, but it definitely was. Maybe even in this brawl by Hutchins. 

The civilian made for the mountains, likely to die of desert exposure or dehydration.

As members of first squad approached another homestead another xeno appeared! They had just gotten rid of two of them, how many more are there?!

This is the only time a xeno actually spawned. If there were no xenos on the table and it was their turn, I rolled and on 1 or 6 one spawned. Then a die roll to see where.

Lightning reactions from the Johnson, Martinez and Siebert allowed for enough fire to cause the xeno some problems, but not eliminate it.

Unable to get a break, Hutchins goes toe to toe with his third xeno, but this time in the struggle, while managing to shoot off a limb, the acidic blood sprayed all over him, killing him.

Getting better at this, second squad advanced up to the final home and uncovered another xeno. However, rapid reactions, and pinpoint fire made quick work of this one.

Upset at the loss of Hutchins, Martinez opened fire a final time, shredding the xeno in accurate fire. The settlement had been searched, cleared, and would now likely be ravaged by scavengers, picking on the corpses of the fringe worlds. There were likely enough supplies here, and a functional ship and vehicles to keep someone's crew flying for a while now. It wasn't everyday a settlement just disappeared.

I enjoyed this game. 

1. I regret facing xenos, because I would have liked to experience a real firefight. I will, however likely return to this settlement with a couple of bands of scavengers to duke it out properly. 

2. I love the 1 and 6 mechanic with dice. I like the kill and shock dice mechanic. 

3. I LOVE the activation structure. I can really get behind activation systems that limit how many you can activate, or if all then what they can do.

4. I will actually finish reading the rules to see if there are any pre-made characters that I can use. 

Nordic Weasel Games produce some good looking, run to read rules. I love the little narratives at the beginning of his books. Starport Scum is my all time favourite, but this was fun. And has potential. If combined with Five Parsecs, then I might have a game on my hands. I might also use it at school with the kids...if we ever go back.