This area of the website is my hobby blog, it contains articles about games that I have enjoyed playing together with paining and model making articles.
using Urban Blocks from Sally 4th
Last weekend Ann, Lewis and I decided to try out Zombicide board game using the newTerra-Block: Urban Block modular gaming terrain. Each block measures 300mm square, costs around £20 and can be set up in a different layout for each game. Like the flat tiles that come with the board game, each tile will join up with all other tiles in four orientations, but what makes Urban Blocks so flexible is that the layout of rooms within the buildings can also be different each time you play as the Terra-Blocks that make up the building can be laid out differently
Ann, Lewis and I had two Zombicide characters each. The mission is to get from the starting corner of the board to the opposite corner of the board to escape this zombie infested town in the only servicable vehicle left in this neighborhood.
The Landrover is the exit zone, our only chance to escape the zombie hoard!
... but in true Zombicide style, it was not going to be as easy as just walking across the block. The keys for the landrover had not been left in the ignition ready for us! Their were six possible places where the keys could have been left marked with objective markers, five red 'herrings' and a blue marker that was the all important bunch of keys.
We opened the door to the first building. The doors in Terra-Block terrain actually open, so it is easy to see which doors have been open yet without an extra counter on the table. Zombies were spawned.... and on reflection we made a mistake here that helped us out big-style. This board had in effect two buildings on it, as the top room is not connected by an internal door. When we spawned zombies we drew an abomination for that room, and it is the only abomination model in our Zombicide collection and as it was in a different building we did not open the door to that building so it was trapped their for the game making life a lot safer on the streets. We will not make that rules mistake in future games!
Spawn zones were set up and we used some spare bases to represent man-hole covers. The team split up and started searching buildings for the keys.
Searching became harder as the game went on and more zombies were spawned and headed toward the noise.
A combination of team work and scavenged weapons held the hoard at bay. We played using one of the Zombivore expansions. The 'Lost' comrades proved to be some of the toughest threats to deal with, needing 5 hits to take down... however the ability to search through the equipment deck for a weapon of choice made it all worth while.
As the game progresse the number of possible places where the key could be reduced, but it was not until we searched the fifth location that we found the keys.
Team photo opportunity... All six survivors made it to the landrover in the end. Four had experienced near death experiances... good job we brought a medic with us!
We wanted to have some additional forces for our participation game at Partizan yesterday (22nd May 2016) so I set myself a challenge to assemble, paint & base a Armored Rifle Platoon (55 all ranks and five M3 Halftracks in 10 days). This little project came in on time and budget. The vehicles and the infantry basing were completed late on Friday night, in time to pack and head down to Newark on Saturday morning.
I will add a post about the game and some photos of the infantry later in the week, for now here are some photos of the platoons vehicles.
The platoon is passing 'The House at Dead Mans Corner' to their right.
The Platoon is parked up in the town square of a Normandy market town. Buildings are from Sally 4th Normandy range.
Two of the half tracks are M3A1s. These belong to Platoon HQ and LMG section and both carry a 0.50 calibre HMG for immediate air defence. The other three halftracks that carry No2, No3 and Mortar section each mount a 0.30 calibre.
We have put together a package deal that contains all of the miniatures and vehicles to field a US Armored Rifle Platoon in Combat Patrol, Bolt Action or any other WW2 platoon level game.
Painting against a deadline focuses the mind on what's needed and what is the most efficient way to achieve it.
On Sunday we are putting on a WW2 participation game using 'Buck' Surdu's excellent Combat Patrol rules. About a week ago I identified that we needed another allied platoon and choose to model a US Rifle Platoon of a US Rifle Company of an Armored Battalion, around 55 miniatures and 5 vehicles. I needed to make the best use of my time, lunchbreaks at work and an hour or so in the evening.
The technique that I'm going to share here is not going to win any painting competitions, that is not the sucess criteria, but it does allow you to paint a squad of 10 28mm figures in an hour. That's six minutes per figure, which I think is pretty good going, and for me when viewed on a wargames table from a normal viewing distance of three or four foot away, they are more than adequately painted.
Stage 1: Spray miniatures with Plastic Soldier Company US Olive Drab spray. Click here for details.
Stage 2: Block paint Jackets & Gaiters with Vallejo 70821 German Camo Beige
Stage 3: Block paint Flesh with Vallejo 70860 Medium Fleshtone
Stage 4: Block paint webbing & rucksac 70819 Iraqui Sand
Stage 5: Block paint Boots & Pistol Holsters Vallejo 70894 Flat Brown
Stage 6: Block paint rifles, entrenching tool handles & helmet straps Vallejo 70982 Cavalry Brown
Stage 7: Block paint any helmets that have helmet covers, bayonet scabards, bazookas etc. Vallejo 70887 - Brown Violet
Stage 8: Block paint any metal parts on weapons Vallejo 70863 - Gunmetal
Stage 8: Dip miniature in Army Painter Strong Quicktone. Brush off any excess with a large (size 6+) old brush and use this to remove any pooling that might develop. Keep your Quicktone thinned down to the consistency of pouring cream using top quality artists turps, not cheap white spirits. Proper turps is an expensive commidity but it will keep your Quicktone fresh for man years and many hundreds of miniatures. Click here for details.
Once dipped, leave your miniatures for at least 24 hours, and then apply a light spray of Army Painter Anti-Shine Matt Varnish to remove the shine. Click here for details.
When I have got the whole platoon painted and varnished, I will the get them based.
If you are at Partizan at the weekend, come and have a look at them in action in our Combat Patrol participation game.
We have put together a package deal to save you 10%, click here if you are interested in collecting a US Rifle Platoon from an Armored Battalion.
Last night I made a good start on the 10 Day US Armored Platoon Project and completed the tasks in the plan for day 1, i.e assemble one vehicle kit and at least 10 figure.
In the end I got a few more figures put together than called for on the plan, but best to be ahead of the game as their is still a lot to do. The figures are going to be based on Sally 4th clear bases, so I used my side clippers to remove that ugly oval plinth that figures are cast on , and then filed the bottom of the models feet flat. The figures were then glued onto temporary mdf bases ready for undercoating and then painting.
I need to assemble and paint 50 new figures and six vehicles for the World War Two, Normandy game that 'Buck' Surdu, author of Combat Patrol and I are putting on at Partizan on Sunday 22nd May 2016.
The M3 Halftrack's that I am using are based on the finely detailed Rubicon 1/56 scale kit. I really like this model. Assembly is good and straightforward and their are lots of options to make each vehicle unique. The kit can be used to make either the M3 or the M3A1 variant. I need some of both, the platoon commander’s halftrack and MG sections halftrack both mount 0.50 calibre HMGs so they will have M3A1 variants.
The options that are included with kit are:
I have used some of the spare items from the Warlord Games US Infantry plastic box set to further customise each halftrack with personal belongings such as packs, helmets, bags, field glasses. spare weapons etc.
I have not glued the MG cupola of the driver and passenger in place yet, to make it easier for painting.
If you have not come across Combat Patrol yet, we have lots of information about it and free downloads on our website. It is an innovative and exciting set of WW2 rules. The rules are very detailed, covering just about every tactical modifier that you could imagine, but the rules are very simple and straight forward to play due to streamlined design and clever use of special cards for combat resolution. A game can easily be played with two players each commanding a reinforced platoon, which is the same level of game as Bolt Action. However, Combat Patrol can easily be used by more than 2 players due to the way that the activation rules are implemented.
Every time that we put on a big game at a show I end up promising my wife that it will never be that way again; the next time we will only book in a game once we have all of the terrain made and the figures painted and based. The intention is always there at the start, but being a ‘normal’ wargamer the desire is always their to do that little bit more or to do it that bit better.
Partizan is on Sunday 22nd May 2016, doors open to the public at 10:00. I’ve known this for the last six months as we have been booked in with a trade stand and a participation game for that amount of time. We are putting on a World War Two participation game, set in Normandy on or around the 8th June as allied forces landed by sea attempt to overcome German resistance to link up with airborne forces holding strategic positions across the Cotan Peninsula. The game is being played using Combat Patrol, the new and innovative set of WW2 skirmish rules by ‘Buck’ Surdu. We are very fortunate that Partizan coincides with Buck being in the UK on business, enabling him to join us to showcase his rules. When I made a list of the 28mm WW2 forces that I had available, they seemed a bit short for a participation game that we hope to attract significant interest so with 10 days to spare I decided to assemble, paint and base a new army for Combat Patrol and Bolt Action. When I say an army, to be fare we are just talking a platoon as this is the level of action that Combat Patrol and Bolt Action are set at. However, I wanted this to be a historically accurate ‘army’ so researched the correct organisation for A Rifle Platoon of the Rifle Company of a US Armoured Infantry Battalion in 1944.
Rifle Platoon, Rifle Company, Armoured Infantry Battalion
60mm Mortar Squad
The plan is to use the fantastic Rubicon M3/M3A1 Halftrack kit, Warlord Games US Infantry plastic box set plus Warlord Games Metal Blister Packs for support weapons. Luckily Sally 4th stocks all of this stuff so no delay in getting started!
The rough timeline is as follows:
Day 1 (Tuesday) – Assemble 1 x halftrack & Assemble 10 x Infantry
Day 2 (Wednesday) – Assemble 1 x halftrack & Assemble 10 x Infantry
Day 3 (Thursday)– Assemble 1 x halftrack & Assemble 10 x Infantry
Day 4 (Friday)– Assemble 1 x halftrack & Assemble 10 x Infantry
Day 5 (Saturday)– Assemble 1 x halftrack & Assemble 10 x Infantry – Paint 10 Infantry
Day 6 (Sunday) Paint 5 x Halftracks
Day 7 (Monday) Paint & Base 10 Infantry
Day 8 (Tuesday) Paint & Base 10 Infantry
Day 9 (Wednesday) Paint & Base 10 Infantry
Day 10 (Thursday) Paint & Base 10 Infantry
Day 11 (Friday) – Contingency – finish basing
Looks good on paper, we will have to see how it pans out over the next couple of weeks. I am planning to use the excellent PSC WW2 spray primers to give me a head start, block paint and shade with Army Painter Quick-tone, so we are not looking to win a painting competition but to get a force on the table with minimum fuss that looks consistant and historically accurate.
This year we are extremely lucky that 'Buck' Surdu, author of Combat Patrol and many, many more great wargames will be joining us to run a participation game at Partizan in Newark on Sunday 22nd May.
If you have not come across Combat Patrol yet, it is a truly innovative set of rules that deliver all of the detail of WW2 combat, up close and personal without any of the chart look ups and quick reference sheets to slow the action down. This is achieved through streamlined design and the unique use of ‘action cards’ for combat resolution. Combat Patrol delivers a great game for two players, but due to it’s unit activation system can easily accommodate larger numbers of players at club and convention games.
The game will be played on Sally 4ths recently released Normandy Terrain and will feature US and German Paras, Germany Infantry, and a relief force of US Armoured Infantry linking up from the beach.
The game will kick off around 10:30. You will be able to join in during the day. We have already had some keen Combat Patrollers advance booking places, so if you know you’re going to Partizan and you’d like to book a place, please PM me.
My son Lewis and I had been talking about playing a War of the Roses campaign for many months, but we just could not find a set of rules that we liked that had a realistic feel to them but did not give you a headache crossreferencing data in charts, looking things up in rulebbooks or quick play sheets. We had both really enjoyed playing Combat Patrol, which is also written by Buck Surdu, both for WW2 gaming and also for Winter of '79 style games. When we heard that Buck had also written a set of mass battle rules for Ancients, Medieval and Fantasy we thought we had better give them a try.
Purists will be upset, we are indeed gaming with some undercoated figures. Over the next few months this will change as we get our armies painted. However we felt the first priority was to try out the rules to see if we liked them before investing to much time in figure painting. The game uses the same 'Double Random Activation' system as Combat Patrol does for activating units, so we liked that straight away. Your army is commanded by a general and beneath him are wing commanders and contingent commanders if the game is large enough. At the start of each turn you roll a D6 for each leader. We use a nice small unobtrusive one as it stays with the leaders base. The number rolled is the activation number for that turn. The game uses an activation deck which has as a minimum cards black 1-6, red 1-6 and reshuffle. We used the activation deck from Combat Patrol, but you can use standard playing cards as well. After shuffling well (and making various sacrafices to the gods of chance and war), you turn the first card in the deck. All commanders with that dice next to them get to activate. Their is a competative roll off if both sides have a unit with that number. This means that units get to activate once, twice or not at all during any one turn depending on when the reshuffle card comes up. Pretty neat, but that's not the end of the story. If a unit's morale has failed they only get to act on the black numbered cards, a very easy mechanism for halving their efficiency. Commanders can 'command' by swapping their activation dice with their subordinates. For example, if your plan calls for a big left flanking sweep with massed cavalry on your flank and your left wing commander had '4' on his activation dice and your general had '2' on his activation dice and the first card drawn was a '2' your general can swap his '2' with his subordinates '4' to get him quickly on his way.
Our figures are 28mm and we have mounted them on single magnetic bases so we can use movement trays for different rule systems. I have made up special movement trays for playing Bear Yourself Valiantly. These are lined with steel vinyl and have a number of holes for holding figures on magnetic bases (8 for close order, 7 for open order) and a steel vinyl strip at the back that holds the unit data strip.
Bear Yourself Valiently has a system where everything you need to know about a unit is held on the units base, so no need to have a roster or quick reference sheet.
As we were playing with 28mm figures and the move distances and ranges were a bit short we made a special ruler and pace stick for measuring which scaled everything up by 150%
The rules played very fast and were very enjoyable. Lewis and I decided these were the type of rules that we wanted to use and have therfore embarked on a War of the Roses campaign. As we play more games and paint and base more miniatures I will add further articles to explain the other mechanisms in the rules and how the houses of York and Lancaster fare in this new contest.
Sunday 9th April 2016, Lewis and I had a great game of Combat Patrol TM set in the fictional world of 'The Winter of 79'
Combat Patrol TM is a unique set of skirmish level wargames rules, ideal for re-fighting platoon level engagements. Each figure is individually based but is part of a unit that it activates, moves and fires as part of, so a similar level of engagement as 'Bolt Action' for example. Although Combat Patrol was originally written for World War Two, the core mechanics are solid and very easily transferable to other periods and genres. Free supplements have already been written to cover the Russo-Finnish Winter War and the fictional 'Winter of Discontent' genre. Work is currently underway to release supplements for Napoleonic’s, Falklands, Aden, Borneo, Malaya, Afghan, Iraq and many other periods. The 'Winter of '79' is a fictional genre that proposes an alternative timeline when divisions in the country originating from establishments crackdowns after the Brighton bombing and NUM strike lead to armed conflict and regional breakdown.
Our scenario sees the border town of Abermule seized by Welsh Liberation Front (WLF) Militia. Barricades are put up to control entrance into the town.
The WLF forces consist of WLF Cadre (well trained and equipped deserters from regular and reserve forces) and WLF Local Force (newly recruited, enthusiastic and equipped with a mixture of civilian and military weaponry including shotguns, bolt action rifles etc)
The task of re-establishing control in Abermule falls to Lt Denby, 2 Pltn's two pip wonder, a banker by trade but keen 10 Para Subaltern one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. Calling his section commanders together for an 'O' group, he outlines the plan. No 1 Section will go firm making best use of cover and will lay down a base of fire to suppress the enemy to the front and hamper their redeployment. No 2 and No 3 section will go right flanking using the pub as cover to assault the enemy by section fire and manoeuvre. Pltn HQ will support right flank manoeuvre. Mortar Pltn have been warned off to support our assault. Are their any questions? Synchronise your watches, time is now 0642 on my mark. H hour is 0715.
In Combat Patrol, at the start of each turn a D6 is rolled for each leader to determine unit activation. An activation deck contains the minimum of the following cards, black 1-6, re 1-6 and reshuffle. These cards are shuffled and turned over for first unit activation. If the card turned was a 2, any units that had rolled a 2 would get to activate. If there were units on both side that had rolled a 2, they would get to roll off to see which unit activated first. Leaders can exert control by swapping their dice with their subordinates, so for example if Lt Denby had rolled a '2' for activation and No 1 Section Commander had rolled a '4' and the first card turned was a '2' and Lt Denby felt that the most import thing was to get No 1 Section moving he could swap his '2' dice with No 1 Sections '4' dice to get them moving.
As fate would have it their were a number of delays and issues that led to 10 Para being slow to cross the start line giving the WLF militia time to reposition their forces from the areas not threatened to those that were.
One of the key redeployments that the WLF got to make before they were engaged to the front was to reposition an Ex RM fire team into the first floor of a building diagonally across the street to the Pub with an excellent kill zone for their GPMG.
No 1 Section eventually make it to their fire position behind the pub car park wall put take casualties on the way.
Combat Patrol has a unique set of combat resolution mechanisms that take all of the tactical factors that you would expect from this level of wargame, including training, range, firer moving, target moving, wounds, out of command, rate of fire, cover of target and implement them via a streamlined set of card mechanics. This means the game flows really well without needing to refer to charts or rulebooks. One card is turned to resolve if the shot hit. If it hit a second card is turned to resolve the effect of the round hitting. The mechanism identifies the individual within the target group that is hit. If they get a cover save the squad gets a morale marker to represent being under effective enemy fire, if not the individual is wounded or incapacitated.
When a unit activates that has 'morale markers' on them, they need to resolve these before they can act as desired by the player. Once again these are resolved by turning a card for each marker and applying the result. Results can be troops being stunned, retreating or pulling themselves together and are often dependent on the level of morale / training of the unit. Here the WLF manning the barricades had come under heavy fire from 10 Para and had a stack of morale effects to resolve when activated which resulted in half the squad regrouping to the rear.
Ex Booties set up their GPMG iat a first floor window and proceed to 'brass up' No 1 Section in the pub car park.
WLF local forces reposition them selves to face the advace of No 2 and No 3 Sections.
Initially caught in the open, No 2 Section move through the outbuildings at the back of the pub, and put down a couple of smoke grenades to mask their advance.
Unfortunately the WLF are now in a good fire position.
Meanwhile No 1 Section has split of their gun group under L/Cpl Nobby White to set up a fire base at the first floor windows of 'The George and Dragon' to enfilade the WLF positions
'Four Alpha, this is Alpha One Sunray, fire mission over' Lt Denby gets on the Company net and directs in a 'stonk' from the Mortar Section.
To the front No 1 Section puts down sufficient fire to effectively neutralise the WLF troops manning the barricade. Unfortunately 10 Para's casualties were such that at that point they needed to go firm and await reinforcements from Company assets, so for the purpose of the scenario and it's victory conditions the WLF, well led by Lewis won the day and held the town.
It was a very enjoyable and fast moving game of Combat Patrol, we are both looking forward to our next game.
Sunday 13th March 2016
Combat Patrol : Winter of Discontent Engagment.
Active service units of the Welsh Liberation Front (WLF) have taken contol of the town, sealing all road exists with barricades manned by WLF Local Forces. Meanwhile WLF Cadre units wait in the 'George & Dragon' for the arrival of a transit van containing arms and ammunition to extend their power struggle.
'A' Coy, 10th Bn The Parachute Regt (TAVR) have been tasked to clear the road blocks and bring the town back under establishment control.
During this routine operation they discover the arms exchange under way in the pub carpark and this becomes their focus of operations.
Rifle sections on routine patrol are diverted to redeploy to stop the arms cache leaving.
WLF Cadre (these are the well trained and drilled units made up of ex service personel and commited revoloutionaries), arrive and deploy out of the transit van to hand arms over to local groups.
WLF Local Forces man the barricades. These are less well trained and armed with older rifles seized from TAVR and Cadet establishments together with civilian firearms.
The second unit of WLF Cadre deploy out of the pub to take control of transit van and be on their way, however a fierce firefight soon develops between both units and No 3 Section rifle group and gun group, forcing the group around the transit to take cover, pinned in the treeline behind the pub carpark.
No 1 Section deploy into some shops. They deploy their GPMG in a first floor window to put down an accurate covering fire in support of No 3 section.
No 3 sections rifle group and gun group take cover behind a substancial stone wall that prevents several incoming rounds causing fatalities.
In a brief lull in the fighting the WLF make a dash for it in the trannie van. Unluckily for them a determined burst from the GPMG ignites the fuel tank and it brews up nicely.
First engagement a definite win for the maroon machine!
Tuesday 23rd Febuary 2016
Last Tuesday Nick and I got to complete our Combat Patrol introductory game that saw German & US Paras come to grips during a meeting engagment in a small Normandy market town.
Both sides had sensibly taken cover inside buildings and behind the solid churchyard walls. A very sensible precaution as Combat Patrol is a very detailed and realistic WW2 skirmish game, so as you would expect the consequence of being caught in the open in the kill zone of a couple of squads is deadly. Combat Patrol is written by a retired US Army Colonel who has served his time as a Rifle Platoon commander, and you can tell by the feel of the rules and the way that they flow.
The game uses cards in a unique way to provide detail with out slowing the game down and getting bogged down in charts and calculations. The cards have a lot of games date on them as they are used to resolve movement, shooting, melee and morale checks. When a figure shoots a card is drawn to see if the shot hits. This is determined by the little chart at the top of the card. You start at a different position according to your training. My US Para's were Regulars so they started one slot to the right on the chart. Then some modifiers are used depending on tactical situation, i.e. range, in command, wounded, target or firer moving. These are all summarised by icons on the chart and are applied by shifts to the right. My Paras were stationary, as were their target, and the enemy was across the other side of the street, hiding behind the churchyard wall so close range, meaning no shifts this time. On the chart, white 'splats' are hits, black circles are misses. My Para therfore gets a round on target.
To determine the effect of the round on target, we draw a second card and look at the area with a picture of a soldier, left centre of card. The number tells us the individual in the target area who has been hit, so I hit 3rd figure from left in target group and looking at the picture of the target, round had got him in the chest for a non fatal wound... however looking at the right part of the card tells me if their has been a cover save. This is displayed as icons, and luckily for Trooper Schmidt a wall obstacle is displayed. This means the round would have got him in the chest but was deflected by the stone wall, saving the individual. However, it is still a rounds on target situation so the squad leader takes a morale token for resoloution next time the unit activates to represent the suppressing effect of fire on target.
The US Paras had come on from the west and have moved through the buildings, taking up fire positions in the shops, waiting for the moment when the Germans in the churchyard are suppresed to cross the open ground in front of the churchyard to take the war to the enemy. We also had a sqad going left flanking throught the cornfields. On reflection, this was a mistake as it took for ever to move through it (half move distance through rough terrain) and it provided very little cover when the rounds started coming in.
The pivot point of the battle. The Germans in the Churchyard and Church tower were either suppressed or were out of ammo / clearing blockages so we decided to move out and cross the open ground. When you shoot, a few of the cards have Out of Ammo markers, if you draw this it represents you having a stoppage (for whatever reason) and you can not shoot again until you have used an activation to clear it.
Unfortunately the attack stalled, the Germans got a couple of activations before the US Paras could actually get into cover. The assault squad, caught in the open was destroyed, the flank attack was to slow so we decided the only course was to fall back and request reinforcments before risking a second attack.
Game one to Nick and the Germans.
Great fun. We cant wait to play again, next time introducing some armour to the mix.