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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Friday, 28 May 2010

Ready to fly

After a bit of a chaotic fortnight involving tiny nappies and cleaning up baby sick, I managed to find the time to finish off a couple of the easier items on my to-do list. These were the 1:285 Battle of Britain fighters I got a wee while ago. They bring my count up to 10 Bf-109, 6 Hurricanes and 4 Spitfires (I also have 6 He-111, 2 Bf-110 and 4 Ju-88, the latter unpainted yet). I'm now fully prepped to put on a pretty large Check Your 6! game at the club. With 2 planes each, I can support 10 players and I believe that others may be bringing some fighters, too!! I intend to write a short appraisal of the rules when I report on the game, so, for now, here's some photos of the assembled fighter forces...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Nuts! vs Flying Lead

Last night I played my first game of both Nuts! and Flying Lead at the club. We played the same scenario both times to see how the outcomes and general play felt. The scenario was a handful of Fallschirmjager have arrived at a weapons canister and setup an LMG to cover the rest of the squad coming up. Meanwhile, a British section has spotted the canister drop and have sent a patrol to secure the area and prevent the Germans getting the weapons. We set up the table as per the sample scenario given in the Nuts! rulebook, except instead of trees we had a couple of olive groves and I also moved the building to the right and put a walled field down on the left. Note that I set up the German figures the same in both games. On the left is a single rifleman; on the right at the house is an LMG team and an NCO with MP40. Reinforcements were a Star with a pistol and five rifleman. Here's a couple of shots from behind the Germans (played by me). I got carried away playing and forgot to take anymore :-

Let's examine the games then :-

In the first game, using Nuts!, the British split into fire teams and attempted a flank move to their right. The left section moved up and around the olive grove and, as expected were forced to duck back by the LMG. The right flank easily overwhelmed the single rifleman who's reaction fire was insufficient to stop the group advancing. The reinforcements came on and one of the riflemen managed to put one of the British left flank rifleman out of the fight. I tried to get the SMG armed NCO and a couple of rifles over to protect the German left but the Brits had managed to get the Bren gun set up and the enfilade fire managed to 'obviously dead' or 'out of the fight' pretty much half the remaining Germans. At this point I conceded defeat. All in, the game took about an hour and we had a very satisfying conclusion. I should point out that we did a couple of things wrong. First off we rotated any figures shooting as a reaction to face the target, which we shouldn't have. This did not affect the result, though. Second, we did not allow groups of figures not accompanied by a leader to form groups during reaction. So we ended up having one British soldier jump out and resolve the whole chain reaction against one German before moving onto the other. This was not right and the Germans could have formed a group and all fired before the Brit took the 'received fire' test. Again, though, I don't feel this would have really swayed the outcome. Peter, my opponent, showed a shrewd understanding of the tactics required to attack an LMG position and executed them well. The LMG dominated it's field of fire, as expected, but was susceptible to an aggressive flank attack. The reinforcements came on a little too late, as the Bren managed to setup and decimate them as they attacked. All in, it felt right....the LMGs were totally pivotal to the outcome and rifle fire seemed to have the right level of effectiveness. It didn't hit often, but when it did it was reasonably lethal (we just removed OOF figures to simplify things).

The second game used Flying Lead. In this game, the British fumbled a few activations trying to get the flank attack into position and this allowed the German reinforcements  to arrive and get into a better position to hold off the flank attack. On the German right side, though, the LMG was a little less effective as in the Nuts! game. It managed to pin a couple of the British, but they were able to bring enough firepower to bear to manage to kill one of the team and the NCO. Of more concern, the NCOs SMG didn't seem particularly effective, even at short range due to the low combat rating, which I felt a little odd. Unfortunately we didn't have time to finish the game and it was left hanging finely in the balance with pretty clear battle lines exchanging fire with each other.

I have to say it was a very interesting experiment, playing the same scenario with different rules, but which ones did I prefer? I honestly felt that Nuts! gave a better game in a shorter time frame. I honestly enjoyed the Flying Lead game but Nuts! simply left me wanting to play more. In Flying Lead, there seemed to be a bit more mental arithmetic going on, with dice results being added to stats and then modifiers applied and whatnot...and then comparing the results against each other! OK, it's not as bad as it sounds, but the Nuts! system of adding a dice roll to the Rep and then consulting a chart that gives you a hit/miss decision was a bit more elegant and flows better. Second, with the reaction system and the 'outgunned' rule, the LMGs in Nuts! were virtually impossible to frontally assault, which feels right to me. In Flying Lead, they were a little less effective which allowed British riflemen to actually engage an MG-34 in a firefight. Hmmm! Lastly, the 'battlefield chaos' mechanisms differ somewhat. In Nuts! you roll initiative with only those characters with an equal or higher Rep getting to activate, but the highest roll getting to go first. There were only a couple of occasions where this left one player unable to do anything, but crucially, the reaction system means your men aren't standing there having bad things done to them without retaliating. In Flying Lead you can try to roll up to 3 activation dice for each figure or group and if you fail 2 it's turn over. As mentioned this actually affected the game in that it took the British too long to get round the flank. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, as it adds some excitement and risk into the game, but I think I prefer the Nuts! system in that all the risks you take are realistic ones, not abstract. In other words, running out in front of an MG nest is all the risk you really need!

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Let's go NUTS!

It's taken me a while, but I finally have enough figures painted to try out some of the skirmish rules that I think might work for the Crete games. The two sets I have are NUTS! and Flying Lead. I really like the idea of the NUTS! chain reaction system and in some of my 'painting table tests' they seem to give a very realistic result. Flying Lead I haven't tried yet, but it also seems to have some attractive mechanics. Hopefully, due to the relatively low numbers of figures (at most a section each side) I can try both rules at the club in one night. Anyway...on to the figures :-

The above are my first go at the Splittermuster 41 camouflage. Being colourblind these types of uniforms are a real challenge, but thanks to the wonders of the online paint guide, I think they turned out alright. I reckon I might be able to do a little better with more practice, but that's just the perfectionest in me! The following is an ensemble shot of all the Fallschirmjager that I have painted:

And of course, the Tommies who are going to miss every opportunity to kick them back to Germany (at least if history is to repeat itself)!

If I remember to take the camera with me I'll take some shots of the games and post a batrep here...!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Fanning the flames

Before I launch into last Friday's battle report, my DBA army turned up which was quite exciting. The Essex figures seem a little skinner than the Magister Militum, but they are roughly the same height, so should mix in as long as they're based separately.

And so, onto Friday's Flames of War battle. This was the first time I've played as the Germans and my brother as the Americans, and it was the first time that James has played FoW, period! Carl had pre-prepared the terrain ahead of the game with no knowledge of the sides or scenario, which I decided without seeing the table. We decided that the Americans would be a good fit for James due to the size and robustness of the 9 base squads, so he and Carl split the company between them and faced up against the SS under me. As it turned out, due to the terrain, the battle devolved into a slugfest across the main road across the board with very little maneouver going on, but that was actually OK as it let us concentrate on teaching James the core of the rules (i.e shooting, close assault, etc). Admittedly, we forgot some of the 'flavour' rules, like the Stormtrooper move, but again, I think that was no bad thing.

So what happened? We set up a defensive battle with a US Rifle company defending against a counterattack at an important road junction. The Germans had a little more in the way of points to offset the defensive battle rules (dugin, ambush, etc). As mentioned there was a road running lengthways across the table with a trunk road heading off into the German territory. On the German left was a hill with a wee crown of trees and on the right a medium sized wood. At the crossroads was a small hamlet. The Americans had a wood on their right and a farmhouse in the centre. In and around all this was some bocage (ok...hedges, but we played it as bocage). The Americans split their forces quite evenly with a platoon on either flank supported by attachments from the weapons platoon and the center being held by their armour, a platoon of 4 Shermans and a platoon of 1 section of M10s. The mortars and artillery were kept to the rear. The Germans set up pretty much the same, although the platoon of PzIV were placed in direct support of the left and a lone Tiger sent up the middle :-

The battle progressed as the Germans pushed on to the hamlet on the right and got into the buildings. The American left flank decided to react a little too late and attempted to also get into the buildings, but they were punished quite severely in a close assault which they attempted without pinning the veteran SS platoon. The brave GIs charged into a storm of MG fire and were forced to retire after taking some losses. On the German left, the Panzergrenadiers and Panzers pushed up to the road and engaged the dug-in troops, but due to the intervention of the Shermans it took a little longer to get the Panzers into action against the infantry, so a heavy small arms fire exchange began. Which brings me to the centre! Before attempting to engage 5 PzIV, the 75mm Shermans decided to sacrifice one of their number against the Tiger to slow it down! I can only assume that the platoon commander who ordered such a suicide faced a war crimes tribunal if he survived the encounter!!! Needless to say, the Sherman was vapourised, but only after...quite stunningly...forcoing the Tiger to bail. Perhaps they mistook it for a Firefly!

As the infantry meatgrinder continued the Tiger got stuck on the bocage for a while (perhaps there was method in the madness) and the rest of the Shermans were destroyed...a lesson was learnt that infantry support tanks should not be used in a tank-killer role! A turn or two later the American left flank buckled under the growing pressure from the Panzergrenadiers and they left the field in panic and disarray. The M10s were deployed to provide a last line of defence which halted the infantry until the Tiger could be brought up. Alas, in accordance with the whole of the rest of the night saw some terrible dice roles only bail out one M10 after 2 rounds of shooting. It duly remounted and the combined fire destroyed the Tiger. All the while the German right was under constant air attack which was taking it's toll.

But it was all too late. The Panzers on the German left finally brought their HE to bear and managed to dig out enough of the GI teams to allow the tattered remains of the Panzergrenadier platoon to close assault and clear the bocage once and for all. Directly behind this position was one of the objectives which was unable to be defended and so the American position was lost.

Overall, it was a fun battle despite the lack of movement. The dice were absolutely terrible which led to some comedy moments! James was rolling 1's all night; at one point he rolled 4 dice for a result of 4 1's. My favourite moment was a critical roll to save an infantry team that pushed his platoon into a morale test. Carl piped up "don't roll a 1!". So James rolled a 2! Naturally the platoon failed it's subsequent morale test...!
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