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Month: October 2012

Tank Aces Campaign: Rounds 3 and 4

We’ve finished our Tank Aces campaign and I’d like to thank our players for making the event a success. I expected eight, hoped for ten and got fifteen players. We’ll be returning to regular Flames of War for a little while to give our new players a chance to experience the joys of infantry, artillery and air power. Those who have encountered the Big Cats are quite pleased by the prospect.
Before we discuss the finale, let’s look at the third round results. The Germans needed to win two of the three areas to tie the campaign. The games were normal Flames of War games with rulebook missions, players were limited to using only tank teams.

Route A: Arracourt (Allied Victory, 2-0)

British tanks made their presence felt on the advance to Arracourt. Token German resistance failed to slow their drive as the Wehrmacht blocking forces were easily outflanked. As a heavy fog descended, they were poised to link up with their opposite numbers.

Route B: Nancy (Allied Victory, 1-1)

With the encirclement almost complete, German forces were fleeing Nancy as quickly as possible. The Americans occupied the town without major fighting as the enemy managed to extract their troops from the doomed town in good order. Efforts to overtake the fleeing Germans were hampered by the heavy fog but the last German strongpoint before the Ruhr was liberated.

Route C: Luneville (Allied Victory, 1-1)

To the east of Nancy, the Axis defenders along Route C continued their efforts, slowing the Allies advance and falling back in good order. Over the course of the entire operation, they were the only formations to achieve any measure of success. Although in constant retreat, they managed a steady series of tactical successes which bled their opposite numbers.

After Round 3

Allied Campaign Points:15

Axis Campaign Points: 3 

It’s a real long shot for the Germans going into the final round. Normally, one mega-battle is played at the end of the campaign but due to player numbers, we’ve had to run two. Not exactly the worst problem to have. The final clashes of the campaign were compressed into two small sectors of the line as the Allied attempt to pinch off the fleeing German forces. The three routes have converged on one critical point, the last major road out of the region.

The premise of the mission is that all the remaining forces have collided in the thick fog and both sides are scattered to all hell. Friendly and hostile tanks find themselves in the middle of the enemy and a grand melee ensues. The winning side gets campaign points equal to the difference in scores.
The larger battle, this is the southern pincer.
The smaller battle, this is the northern pincer.

The first game was (as expected) a stalemate with the Allies winning 17-16. The southern pincer have reached their final objective after days of cagey defending by the Axis. Clearly, they used up all their luck in the long retreat. This left the Germans a full 13 campaign points behind the Allies. It would take a miracle to retrieve the situation.

The second game saw a near-miracle. The Allies suffered an enormous defeat as an invulnerable King Tiger and a pair of Jadgpanthers destroyed entire platoons of Shermans and M10s. The final score was a shocking 14-5 Axis victory. Not enough to win but enough to add some balance to the final tally of campaign points.

(Note: The German heavy armour ran riot in this game, aggravated by the scenario deployment. If you’re planning to run a Tank Aces campaign, I suggest some house rules preventing the Tank Aces from manning a King Tiger in the final battle. This one was RoF 3 on the move, rerolled a missed shot each turn and was RoF 4 standing still. To make things worse, it regenerated when killed.)

Final Total

Allied Campaign Points:16

Axis Campaign Points: 12 

So, it’s a major Allied victory but the result was far closer than expected and the Allies fell short of their historical performance. Here’s a few shots of the final night.
Canadian Shermans trundle onto the battlefield.
Panzer IVs brew up after being caught in a deadly ambush.
Commander Von Catsup expresses his displeasure.
A King Tiger begins encroaching on the Allied positions.
Shermans and StuGs prepare for a knife fight.
Battered Canadians fight on.
The Germans take their revenge on the sneakier Allied commanders.
Another slugfest develops as tanks blaze away through the wheat.
The rare Albino Sherman is fielded for the first time.
The last gasps of the ill-fated northern pincer.

Battlefleet Gothic Ireland: Braycon

It turns out that Graham painted some of the models in the BFG Armada rulebook.

As tournaments go, this one was excellent fun. No stress, no rushing, just a chilled out day of gaming. Despite half the players dropping out in the final few days with excuses ranging from the feeble “I have a thing” to the far more impressive “I’ve started coughing up blood”, the determined survivors got to play in Ireland’s first Battlefleet Gothic tournament.

After a pleasant night in Dicey’s (required to prepare me for the noise and confusion of miniature space combat), I woke up early, grabbed a plucky Eldar pirate captain from Maynooth and headed to Bray. The venue was the Methodist Church Hall, which bore a certain resemblance to the average Imperial Navy cruiser. The players shuffled around for a few minutes, looking at each other’s toys and the battlefields.

Round 1
I focused heavily on nova cannons with the smaller, 750 point, fleet bringing two Dominators. They were backed by two Tyrant class cruisers. This proved a touch unwise as Eldar holo-fields laugh at nova cannons.

 My first game was a small-scale battle against Graham’s Craftworld Eldar. This was a cagey, close run affair that saw no ships destroyed but a handful crippled. I managed to corner his fleet briefly and deal some damage, he pulled off a close-range bomber strike which did awful things to its target.

With the game on a knife-edge, both players disengaged and planned their next strike. Unfortunately for the Imperials, disengaging just left the Eldar with an easy path into my rear arc.

Had he managed to get those bombers into the air again, it would have gone very badly for me. But his luck was poor and by the time he had re-armed, we had reached turn eight. My rational caution and his damnable cowardice saw us score very few VPs and creep into the bottom of the table.

Elsewhere, Tau and Imperials clashed in what appeared to be a head-on collision. The Imperials triumphed, as is right and proper.

 The Eldar Corsairs suffered a mauling at the hands of their Dark cousins who used their lightning speed to good effect to catch the hapless good guys off-guard.

Round 2

Another game, another new fleet. This time, it was the Tau. After my experiences with the one successful Eldar bomber strike, I was quite terrified by the number of launch bays I faced and used nova cannons to suppress his carriers. His deflector shields protected him during the initial clashes and my dispersed fleet didn’t really inflict enough harm at range.

Shots were exchanged, bombers were shot out of the sky and his escorts proved to be awesome. I know that the Tau aren’t exactly veteran of space combat but the Warden class is a great design. Our fleets managed one good pass before the game ended and we counted our losses. I had lost one ship, he had lost a less expensive vessel and taken some damage. Victory to the blueskins.

Elsewhere, it was civil war as Craftworld and Corsair Eldar fleets met, with the pirates losing out.

The Dark Eldar and the more effective Imperial fleet fought it out with the pointy-eared gits tasting Imperial justice.

We all popped off for a leisurely lunch at the Porterhouse before returning for the last two rounds. The fleets now scaled up to something akin to normal Gothic with each player bringing 1500 points of vessels and a transport flotilla with 120 points of upgrades.

Round 3

Ah, the Dark Eldar. This game reminded me why I adore BFG, it’s just so fluffy. The Dark Eldar used their speed and mimic engines to sneak three raiding parties aboard my battleship in the first turn, taking out its steering, setting it alight and killing my commanders.

The mission involved delivering invasion transports to the target planet. The Dark Eldar took full advantage of the chaos and snuck their transports into the shadow of the planet. My tranports lurked nearby, unwilling to advance into range of the raiders.

Suicidal strikes by his escorts kept my fleet at bay until his landings had been completed. The cost was high but it did completely stall the advance.

His cruisers had taken the longer route and appeared behind my fleet. Bombers took to the air (space) and my crews could only watch their approach and brace for impact. After the initial strike, the enemy switched back to Impaler-borne raiding parties.

The rain of assault boats continued throughout the game but they are a little too eager as the raiders constantly hit the wrong targets, taking out prow/dorsal weapons control or lighting fires when their own ships are being raked by the starboard weapons. I put it down to the heroic crews defending critical sectors of their ships.

But he gets close enough to maul my transports and vanishes, having taken some surprise hits from the plucky rearguard. A close run game but the damage inflicted on the Dark Eldar outweighed the bonus points for his successful landing.

The Tau and Eldar fly straight at each other with amusing consequences. See below.

The Craftworld Eldar narrowly lose to the Imperial Navy as they get run down like roadkill.

My favourite shot. An Eldar battleship is destroyed and its core detonates with the largest possible explosion radius. The first picture is John measuring the extent of the explosion. The second is what remains of his fleet afterwards.

Round 4

The last round was against my oldest adversary, John’s Eldar Corsairs. My Retribution class battleship enjoys this match up.

The early clashes go my way as a brave strike against the Retribution fails to cripple it (very unlucky dice) and things continue along those lines. The Eldar are harried, hunted and smashed on my right as they are trapped in open space.

It all going well, with his escorts being forced into the open and wiped out. After the initial firefight, he used the asteroid fields on my right to bypass the guns of the fleet with his largest ships. His battered capital ships move against my transport flotilla with surprising results, they deal damage but some transports survive. An honourable mention goes to the Q-ship which delivered the final blow to his battleship as it closed in. Unfortunately, the crew of the up-gunned transport did not live to receive their giant medals.

The Dark Eldar do terrible things to the Tau. The transports are shredded and much of the fleet lost. Elsewhere on the battlefield, the surviving Tau ships chase off one cruiser and hide.

While the organiser was disappointed by the drop-out rate, I’ll argue he can be pleased with the result. The event ran, the fleets were pretty and the players had a fantastic time. In my own case, I got to play three completely new fleets for the very first time. Now, if we can avoid any Necron players finding out about the next one, we’ll all be very happy.
Name Fleet Game 1 VPs Game 2  VPs Game 3 VPs Game 4 VPs Total VPs
Graham Craftworld Eldar 55 547 880 2100 3582
Ugo Tau Protection Fleet 250 220 1650 475 2595
Padraic Imperial Navy 80 152 795 1201 2228
Conor Dark Eldar 257 0 519 1348 2124
Lloyd Imperial Navy 445 245 940 0 1630
John Eldar Corsairs 170 160 150 215 695

And with a venue like that, there should be a next one. There were also rumours of a Blood Bowl or Epic event in the future. As a massive fan of both, I’m ecstatic.

Open Fire! Making a 1750 point Armoured Squadron

Open Fire! the new Battle Front starter goes on sale at the end of the month.  Last week I showed you the 1750 point U.S. infantry list I was going to make using Open Fire! models as a core.  Now I want to go through the British Armoured Squadron I will be able to field (click it). 

Once again I’m using the book Hell’s Highway because it has good options for combining U.S./U.K. forces.  In addition, the British armoured lists are Guards which has two advantages.  First, they are veterans.  Shermans are quite fragile in Late War.  I’ll want to keep the fireflies at long range to take advantage of the semi-indirect fire rule (re-roll to hit beyond 16″).  Veteran tanks are hit on a 5+ base at long range, on 6s if they are hull-down.  Being hard to hit at range, not armor, is the key to their survival.  Secondly, Guards reroll both platoon and company morale checks. They’ll stay in the fight longer.

The good news is that all of the tanks are taken from the starter set.  Once again, the key here is to find a person with whom you can trade box contents.  My CiC and 2iC are standard Shermans with an additional .50 machine-gun mounted.  Then I’ve got three armoured platoons.  Two have two shermans and one firefly, the third has two shermans and two fireflies.

The Firefly has an excellent anti-tank rating, and it re-rolls to hit when stationary and shooting at long-range targets.  It’s a fine tank.  The shermans will drive off trying to take advantage of terrain to get side-armor shots on targets.  If you have low expectations for shermans then you’ll do just great.  So the core of the list consists of 3 armoured platoons–6 shermans and 4 fireflies, supplemented by the 2 shermans from the command group.

Next I’ve added the parachute rifle platoon.  Again, this is straight from the starter box.  Like my list from last week, I’m using British armoured cars as a recon element.  Here you’ll have to buy the Battle Front blister BR310 Daimler Dingo (x3) for €11 and two of the Battle Front blister BR311 Daimler I for €9 each.  Pricey, yes but great little things with a gun almost as powerful as a sherman. 

 The final and 6th platoon for the list consists of heavy mortars.  The British 4.2″ ones pack a decent punch and shooting as veterans they should be able to range-in easily enough.  The mortar unit will pin enemy units and provide you with the threat of counter-battery fire against enemy artillery.  You get the unit in the Battle Front blister BR726 Heavy Mortar Platoon for €14.

The total cost for this list comes out to €103.  Frankly, the list is going to struggle against veteran infantry.  However, the combination of armor, an elite infantry unit, recon, and some artillery will give you a fun, mobile army. 

Open Fire! Making a 1750 U.S. Paratrooper List

Newbreed has previously given a preview of Battle Front’s Open Fire! (€60) starter set here.  At the most basic level the box has 1005 points of U.S./U.K. forces.  The purpose of this article is to outline the 1750 point force I’ll be making from the starter set.  The premise is that you will be trading the Germans in the box to a friend in exchange for the allied forces from his or her box (thanks Nosediver!).  What’s that you say?  Job done you’ve got 2010 points now so feck off?  Now now, bear with me.  You’ve actually got some choices to make to run a 1750 tournament list that can be considered competitive.  Do you want to run a U.S. infantry list with U.K. support, or do you want to run a U.K armor list with U.S. support?  I’m choosing the former.  Using the book Hell’s Highway I’ve generated the following list for the 101st Airborne (click it):

The above uses Open Fire! as the core but tops up with blisters from Battle Front.  For the purists out there all these blisters are U.S. parachute blisters.  So we’re not buying regular U.S. army mortars or bazookas.  You’ll have to purchase a Company HQ consisting of two teams, the CiC and the 2iC.  I’m using the Battle Front blister USO117 Brigadier General James Gavin for my CiC.  He costs €2 and comes with a beret-wearing British guy which fits the allied composition of the list nicely.  For the 2iC I’m using the Battle Front blister USO118 Major General Maxwell Taylor.  Similarly, he runs €2.  I’ve paid the points to upgrade them to SMG teams.  I’ve added three bazooka teams (Battle Front blister US729 Parachute Bazooka Teams €9 for 10 teams).  You attach these to your parachute rifle teams.  O.k. so that’s your Rifle Company HQ.

The two Parachute Rifle Platoons are straight out of the starter set.  No additonal purchases needed here.  Likewise, the two Guards Armored Platoons are starter set miniatures.

I’ve added a small mortar platoon (Battle Front blister US725 Parachute Mortar Platoon for €14.  You actually get four mortars and a bazooka upgrade in the blister but I’m only using two).  This is not going to do much.  What it will do is fire smoke bombardments against tanks that like to remain stationary.  They’ll be forced to move and lose 1/2 of their rate of fire.

Moving through the list we arrive at the recon element: three British armored car.  This is an inexpensive platoon points wise and feel free to swap it out for a small anti-tank gun platoon or something else.  Personally, I want recon in a list.  For this you’ll need the Battle Front blister BR310 Daimler Dingo (x3) for €11 and the Battle Front blister BR311 Daimler I for €9.

I’ve added limited air support from a Typhoon.  This is to keep German and Soviet heavy tanks honest.  Battle Front makes the plane for €14 AC005 Typhoon (1:144).

That does it.  We’ve got a fairly solid list.  It has set you back €121:
€60 Open Fire!
€4 for Gavin and Taylor
€9 for the bazookas
€14 for the mortars
€14 for the Typhoon
€20 for the recon

Do not under-estimate the clout that those two armored platoons give the list.  Likewise, you can be confident that those fearless veteran paratroopers will stick around.  Some folks might eschew the use of air power, preferring to drop it and the small mortar squad for some heavy-hitting artillery.  Fair enough.  That will add to the price tag of the list, however.  This is a 100% WYSIWYG paratrooper list and let’s not forget that you’re getting a rulebook and a V1 rocket.

Preening Dandies: September Edition

Welcome to October, gents. September saw a fairly broad mix of entries with most of the main Irish systems represented. Had we received a Warhammer Fantasy entry, we would have hit every major system.

Panthers (Flames of War)

First up, The Big BZ continues to mass produce the very difficult and time-consuming ‘Ambush’ pattern paint scheme as he powers through his German Panzerkompanie. The entry shows a platoon of Panthers which, I strongly suspect, are being fielded in our local Tank Aces campaign. They might be in a touch of trouble here as I see some Shermans sneaking up behind them.

Chaos Heretic (Warhammer 40,000)

After a brief lull, Sycopat emerges from painting semi-retirement with a lackey of the Dark Gods. This is one of those very nice looking Dark Vengeance models and he’s gone with what appears to the traditional colours of the Alpha Legion, a dark blue contrasted against green. The base… well, it’s either porridge or the ashes of a world sacrificed to Chaos, nuclear fire and anarchy. You choose.

Raek (Hordes)

A monentous occasion, Lowry bases a model. This is the Legion of Everblight’s Raek and with this particular paint scheme, we can expect Ridley Scott’s lawyers to begin swarming.What’s not to like here? The metallic look is excellent and the flesh has a slimy tint. On second glance, it’s a really really good slimy tint. He’s really coming on in leaps and bounds.

Nagas Sniper (Infinity)

Newbreed proves that while he has an eye for colour, he has no concept of camouflage. Let’s hope she’s fighting red/green colour blind troopers in a jungle. You will notice the home-made flagstone base that represents some actual development as a modeller. For the record, the model is pointing at something, not giving someone the finger.

Satyxis Raiders and Captain (Warmachine)

Behold, a full sized Satyxis unit with their unit attachment from Quozl. These ladies fight for the Nightmare Empire of Cryx and have very nice racks. The light purple/dark red on the main body of the model looks good and brightens what threatened to be overly dark models. The tufts on the bases work well as dying, scraggy grass.

Leman Russ Executioner (Warhammer 40,000)

Trget gives us another variant of the, common as muck, Leman Russ. This is the Executioner, packing a very large plasma cannon. Judging by the angry red shade, this one is in the process of over heating and cooking its own crew. The green and khaki colour scheme looks a bit… Deathwing-ish. I’m going to hazard a guess and say that it’s part of an allied contingent for his Dark Angels.

Lowry informs us that Privateer Press have released their own Finecast Colossals and provided some photos. This is the Khadoran Conquest The company has denied all rumours that the new models suffer from ludicrous levels of flash and massive loss of detail.

Preening Dandies
Player Score
Lowry 6
Newbreed 6
Trget 5
Sycopat 4
Welshman 4
Nosediver 3
Quozl 2
The Big BZ 2
Bristolscale7 1
Crazy Aido 1
Frogdog 1
Jiggy 1
Maynard 1

We’ll be doing another roundup at the start of November so get your works into prd@onthestep.net before the end of October. As ever, our local tech adept states that photos above 5MB in size tend to bounce back so keep your entries below that size.

Rules Refresher
1) Each participant may only send in one entry for a given month. You can send in multiple photos of the entry but only one will be used.
2) The entry can be a single model or single unit. The smaller the unit, the more detail in the photo so aim low.
3) The model can be from any game system. If it’s particularly esoteric, we’d appreciate a covering note explaining what it is.
4) The entry must have been finished within that given month. You can’t submit completed pieces from your back catalogue.
5) If you want us to include a link back to more of your work, we’d be delighted to do that.

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