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Monday, December 28, 2015

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Image result for Star Wars logo

I've had these figs in my garage in freezer bags for years:
I don't even know how many of them there are. But I'm now sorting them out to get them to the table. Above, 49 classic stormtroopers, classic rebel troopers, and seven likely heroes, plus a cast of extras. Frankly, the Wizards of the Coast game was really quite good, and I enjoyed playing it a bit here and there. Also plays OK as a solo game with a generally speaking IGO-UGO sequence, and lovely maps and the cards were amusing, alto. The scenarios from the films were also great, and I played out a bunch of the ones from "A New Hope". 

This movie is hard to explain to young folks. I saw it on the big screen - a nicely sized 50' one - when it was released. It was amazing, and we really had never seen anything like it. With computers being newfangled and somewhat laughable gadgets only a few people owned, the visuals and especially the musical score by John Williams really blew us away. My mom let me and one sister stay and see it again [without paying]. The two older sisters must've seen it - in the theater - about 25 times each! As there were no videos, that's what you had to do. People  would wait in lines for hours to get tickets, just like with rock concerts. Certainly struck a cord even though it was a bit nuts. Not to rain on the parade of follow-ups, but you only get that once. 

Now lots of TV shows have amazing special effects, and friends have huge screens and stereo hookup, and it's all taken for granted. The follow-ups have been OK, and I plan to see the latest, just because it hasn't been totally trashed in reviews and I want to see the actors in this last run before age takes them from us permanently.

Having decided to get out of painting 25-8mm scifi, I'm now running with Star Wars as both a good theme and back world, as well as having lots of figures for, perhaps several hundred. The Fringe faction provides a lot of interesting figures for the table [just like in the game, actually] and they make great futuristic fighters against or for the Empire.  Perfect setup as I don't have time to paint everything!

Have meant to try Chain Reaction for ages, and own 3.0 which I've read more than once.  Never got it into motion, however. Now downloaded CR2015 from here 2HW freebies and have mostly read it. It certainly looks cleaner and has a few nice tweaks to it. 

There's still some aspects to the reaction-test mechanic that concern me, but as I haven't played them yet I will of course follow my rule and play them RAW first. Having sorted out some classic forces, I'll be throwing a few things on the table ASAP. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Painting Slimey Limeys: resources and inspiration

'Ow can we fight if we 'aven't any paint??
Above, 24pdr battery, forward observers, staff, command, all Battlefront 

50 British Motor Infantry by Battlefront, about 12 stands worth, or 4 platoons with my rules.

Finally getting movement on my British desert forces.  I primed and began painting these ages ago, then stopped when the bottom fell out of Flames of War locally. I'll probably need to dust them off, also! One inhibiting factor was that I bought two Ospery books to paint them, assuming they were as useful as the Italian books [which are very, very good I might add].  However, there was way too much history in them and not nearly enough about their uniforms, rank, medals, unit patches, etc. I finally broke down and bought the book with all that info since it is $17 retail and got it at Amazon for $9 total:


British Battle Insignia (2) 1939–45
MEN-AT-ARMS 187, 
Author: Mike Chappell

I find that 15mm is just big enough to put all the little badges and such on them. The little bits of color and rank definitely add a lot to the figures and when painted properly [which is to say very very brightly] catch the eye. 

British soldiers were supposed to remove all unit markings when in action, but esprit de corps won out and often the order was ignored. Eventually the Brits developed a system of colored markings like the WWI patches. So altho they may not have always worn them, they wore them enough to paint them on the little guys. So, am adding these to my paint queue for the holiday break, 

Along with prepping and cleaning more 40mm ECW and finishing shields and mounting 120 Saxon infantry!

This will give me four platoons of British infantry, two batteries of "Mortars", and allow me to have infantry v. infantry battles with the full gamut of One-Hour Wargames approved troops. Upon getting these done, I will need to finish the details on my Cruds, from decals to pennants to highlights.

Additional resources are the wonderful "Benghazi Handicap" by the equally wonderful Frank Chadwick [anything he does is worth checking into!].  This book is an amazing resource for British, Italian and German units in the Western Desert battles.  Everything from how to approach the terrain for the Command Decision rules, to many pages on how to paint up the figs, organize units and more. Especially useful are the Unit number sections.  Highly recommended for any enthusiast of the desert battles, whether or not you like Command Decision.

Also good, but much more limited in size and scope, is "British Eighth Army North Africa 1940-43" by Robin Adair. It has a few color plates and then lots of black and white pictures that are useful for getting ideas on basing, dioramas, etc. There's useful if limited information on the uniforms in this 32-page work, something like a small Osprey without as many color plates.  It's part of the Key Uniform Guides series, #3 if you want to check these titles out elsewhere.

Similar, but much much bigger is George Forty's "The Desert Rats at War".  A commemorative work of the long trek from Egypt to Berlin, there's almost 350 pages of pictures and story in this hardback volume, which is inspirational to peruse, also.  Plenty of pics of all the vehicles to give you ideas and inspiration on how yours might look. For any type of modeling - gaming or diorama - you should grab this if you can.

Also needed are a few buildings, which embarrassingly I've owned for ten years or so. Scott Washburn does great paper buildings from here: Paper Terrain
I have a nice selection from the Mediterranean Pack #1, including a super-cool church and monastary. The buildings come with a destroyed inner shell so when you blast the building to rubble, you slide off the outer shell. Pretty neat.

Accomplishing all this will give me nicely balanced forces for all 30 OHW scenarios, and will leave me with just a few terrain items to do for both the western desert and Tunisia. It's long overdue, but now that the rules are done I've more opportunities to play a quick game even at home by myself, which is motivating.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Version #9 - Very Satisfied for now...

By jove, I think we've got these rules down for a while!
Boxart Desert Rat Tankers WWII 1754 Verlinden Productions
https://www.scalemates.com/kits/179539-verlinden-productions-1754-desert-rat-tankers-wwii

OK, so it's clear that the rules are working well with newbs and myself in playtesting. A few final changes and clarifications to these basic rules, and I'm ready to put them on hold while I work on some of the more important option rules like off-board artillery and smoke.  In any event, here they are, play around with them and please feel free to respond.  Lots of games, at least 20-25, including several with others, have helped fine-tune this beta version.  It'll be good for a while until a final gamma comes around.  As always, sorry for the formatting. If you want the document in WORD, just contact me. Enjoy!

ONE-HOUR WARGAMES: WWII

GAME CONVENTIONS
• Dice are six-sided standard [1-6, less predictable] or average [2,3,3,4,4,&5, more predictable].  Choose one for all game dice rolls.  Dice are referred to as Dx [roll 1 die] or 2Dx [roll 2 dice]etc. Round up all fractions.
• A Turn is about 10 minutes, but may represent 5 to 15 minutes of Actions. Or inaction!
• Groundscale is about 1”=50m [or yards].  This makes 12” about 600m.
Measuring distance, and LoS between Units, may be done at any time.
• Terrain represents significant features of military impact.  Flat table spaces without table terrain still have scattered terrain features soldiers use for limited cover and/or concealment.
Dug-in includes foxholes, shallow trenches and gun pits with camouflage to conceal a Unit.  It assumes efforts to site vehicles and guns effectively and to establish safe fire lanes with broad coverage.  Any Unit except a Tank may take advantage of cover and concealment and “Dig-in”.
• Concealed Units are in a position with a bonus against Fire, whether Dug-in or in a woods/town etc.
Hits.  Casualties, damage, ammo, and fatigue are expressed by Hits.  A Unit with 5 Hits is -1 to its Fire: at 10 Hits it is -2 and five Hits become permanent [mark them red]. At 15+ Hits a Unit is destroyed and removed.
• Units are a platoon of about 3 tanks or guns, or 40 infantry with attached LAW/HMG.  Unit types are: Infantry, Mortar, Anti-Tank Gun [ATG], and Tank.  All Units represent common ones of their type, with game characteristics that assume average training and some combat experience.
      i.    Tank Units are medium tanks: Sherman, Cromwell, Mk IV, and T-34 with 2+ MGs. 
     ii.    Infantry Units have a proper mix of small arms, snipers MGs, and anti-tank weapons such as grenades, mines, rockets, and light ATGs [2pdr, 37mm, 47mm guns].  Therefore, the net fighting power is derived from about 40 infantry plus their crewed support weapons. 
    iii.    ATG Units represent specialized medium guns of 57mm, 6pdr, or 75mm with rates of fire and ammunition resulting in net equal performance against medium tanks over the course of several shots.  They also have some HE rounds and a crewed MG to fight infantry. 
   iv.    Mortar Units are 3”/75mm/82mm mortars or light field guns common to infantry battalions.  They have an MG to fight infantry, and some LAW or AT rounds [if field guns] to fight tanks.
Three Bases of guns, infantry [FoW style] or vehicles make a Unit.  All face the same direction showing the Unit’s Front and Rear.  A visibly unique base/vehicle, e.g. a command team, measures Range for the entire Unit.  The two other bases/vehicles must be parallel or behind it.  Tanks keep 2” between bases, others 1”.  Aside from this, bases/vehicles are free to move in relation to each other – there are no formations.

Fire Types & Line of Sight
Direct Fire is used by all Units to Fire at Units they can see.  The LoS is traced from two Firing Unit Bases to two different Target Unit Bases, a full Base edge to a full Base edge.
Indirect Fire is used by Mortar Units to Fire at Target Units to which it has no LoS.  A friendly Unit observes for it, tracing a LoS from its Unique Base to any two Target Unit Bases, a full Base edge to two full Base Edges.
Line of Sight [LoS] is obstructed by intervening terrain of sufficient apparent height, such as hills, woods and towns, and friendly Units that are not Dug-in.
·         Area Terrain. Units within area terrain such as a hill, town, wood or cornfield, have the LoS distance limited to 4” or less unless their stands are at the edge of the feature.
·         Concealed Units may only have LoS traced to them at 12” or less if marked “Ready”.
  
PLAY SEQUENCE

A full Turn has two player Phases of three Steps, first Attacker [Player A] then Defender [Player D]:

Phase A, Attacking Player                          Phase D, Defending Player
1. Mortar Fire Step,                                         1. Mortar Fire Step,
2. Actions Step,                                               2. Actions Step
3. Ready, Rally and & End Step                     3. Ready, Rally and & End Step

Player A starts the game with his phase, followed by Player D.  The Players continue to alternate Phases until Victory has been achieved by the end of a complete Turn of both Player Phases.

1) MORTAR FIRE STEP
Summary. After ascertaining LoS to Target Units, Phasing Mortar Units may take a Fire Action; this is their only Fire opportunity.  If they do not Fire they may Move during the Actions Step.  [see “Fire” below].

2) ACTIONS STEP
Summary. The Phasing Player sequentially selects Units to perform one Action, Fire or Move.  He resolves the Action, then selects another Unit until all desired Phasing Units have performed Actions. 
Ready Units.  The Non-phasing player may perform Fire Actions with his Units marked “Ready” after any Phasing Unit has performed an Action. They do so with a “-1” penalty then the Unit is no longer Ready.

A) FIRING ACTIONS are resolved by rolling a D5 to inflict Hits on a Target Unit.
·         Ranges. Measure Range between Unique Bases.  Infantry, ATGs & Tanks have a 12” range and a 4” Close Range. ATGs & Tanks have a 24” Long Range.  Mortars have a 48” range and no Close Range.
·         Friendly Units may only be Direct Fired through if both are Dug-in, or the Firing Unit is a Tank and the other is Dug-in.  Dug-in Units have safe fire lanes while Tanks are high and mobile.
·         Firing to Front or Flank. Units Fire 360°.  Their Front is measured 180° off the unique Base’s front side.  If the measured Range between Units is behind a Unit’s Front, a Unit is Firing to its Flank and is penalized or is taking fire upon its Flank and suffers additional Hits.
·         Target Priorities.  Units should prioritize Fire at the closest Target Units against which they have the best modifier and least penalized shot.  All factors being equal, closest is the highest priority.  So Tanks will usually fire against Tanks and ATGs first – even if Infantry are closer.

Roll a Dx for Hits, subtracting -1 for 5 Hits or -2 for 10 Hits, then apply modifiers below, left to right:
  Target Unit
Firing unit
Infantry
Mortar
ATG
Tank
Firing on a Rear
Firing to the Rear
Firing
“Ready”
Firing at Road
or Marching
Infantry
-
-2
-
-2
+2
-2
-1
+2
Mortar
+2
-
+2
-2
na
na
na
na
ATG
-2
-2
-2
+2
+2
-2
-1
+2
Tank
-
-
-
+2
+2
-2
-1
+2
Terrain and Range Modifiers. Apply the following benefits for the Target’s situation:
a.            Cover. Units halve Hits in towns, and/or Dug-in.
b.            Woods. Units in woods halve hits except from Mortars.
c.            Hilltops. Tank Units on a hill top halve hits except from Mortars.
d.            Range. Units Fired upon at Long Range halve hits, at Close Range double Hits.
e.            Maximum defensive benefit is quartered Hits. Round fractions up.
Remove the Target Unit if it has more than 15 Hits, otherwise mark the Hits on the Target Unit.
Mark the firing Unit with white cotton.


B) MOVEMENT ACTIONS
Summary. The Phasing player picks a Unit and rolls the dice, totals them and applies any bonus or penalty amount.  He then moves any portion of it and marks the Unit “Moved” [e.g. a dust cloud].  No Base/model may move farther than the total amount rolled but they may turn freely.  By rolling the dice, the Unit counts as moving even if no distance is moved [losing Ready or Dug-in status, etc].  Tactical move distances assume precautions against enemy observation and fire; Marching Units are committed to speed over safety – mark them with a dust cloud as there’s a bonus for shooting at them.

Roll the Dx indicated below, add any bonus and move any portion of the total.
Unit Type
Tactical
Threatened, <2”
Dug-in
Road
Marching
ATG, Mortar
Dx
na
-2”
+4”
+Dx
Infantry
Dx+2
-2”
-2”
+4“
+Dx
Tank
Dx+4
-2”
-2”
+4”
+2Dx

Terrain. Units are affected by terrain as follows:
a.    Marshland and Lakes. Impassable.
b.    Woods. Only Infantry move through, but ATGs may enter the edge, subtracting 2” from the total rolled.
c.    Towns. Only Infantry may end its move within a town
d.    Rivers. These may only be crossed via bridges or fords.
e.    Roads. Units may use a road to enter prohibited terrain, ignore penalties, and trace a LoS.  If a Unit moves entirely by road and does not enter Close Range of any enemy Unit it may increase its movement distance by 4”.  Enemy Units shoot at them with a bonus.
Turning. Moving Unit Bases may turn freely but must all face the same direction at move’s end.  
Interpenetration. A Unit may only pass through a friendly Unit.  They must clear it completely, having no part of any of its bases between the stationary friendly Unit’s Bases.
Dug-in Units subtract 2” from their movement and are no longer Dug-in after they roll Move dice to abandon their positions.  This reflects the difficulty of gathering troops together after they’re fully positioned.
Threatened Units have an enemy base within 2” of any of their bases.  ATGs and Mortars may not move when Threatened while Tank and Infantry Units lose 2” of movement.  Soldiers didn’t like to maneuver close to the enemy, and exercised a slowing cautiousness when they even suspected the enemy was nearby.

3) RALLY & READY STEP
Phasing Units that did not take an Action during their Turn may do any one of the following:
Rally. Hits reduce a Units Fire dice by -1 for 5 Hits and -2 for 10 Hits.  Units remove Hits by Rallying. Roll a Dx and remove that many Hits if Concealed or a Tank: remove ½ Dx Hits if neither.  This represents a major effort to reorganize, resupply, repair and get shirkers back into the fight. OR,
Ready. Phasing Infantry, Tanks or ATGs may be marked “Ready”.  Ready Units may take a Fire Action during the opponent’s Actions Step after any Phasing Unit has acted.  Ready Units lose Ready status by Firing or Moving; they may Dig-in or Rally.  This represents a Unit lying in wait to ambush or open fire upon enemy who move into their sights; if no threat develops, they will continue to improve their position and prepare. OR,
Dug-in.  Phasing Units that do not Fire or Move may become “Dug-in”.  This means they halve Hits against incoming Fire and count as Concealed Units for Rallying.  It also means they can shoot through friendly Dug-in Units or be fired through by Tanks.  They spent time getting cover and/or concealment, making them harder to detect and Hit.  They also coordinate their positions with friendly Units to minimize the chance of fratricide.