Thursday, 19 December 2013

SAGA TOURNAMENT REPORT - DAY TWO

Day two of the Saga tournament ... Dec 8, 2013

We kicked off again at 9:30 Sunday morning, which was nice as I needed a sleep in after a hard windsurfing session the night before !
First up was the painting beauty pageant, or as it was called ... the Biggest Beards and Shiniest Axe Competition. There were a few armies that stood out for me, clearly in front and received my vote was Rob Curry's Normans - very well painted and based. Also Bede's Normans and Russell's Vikings were very nice as well. As was Andrews Pagan Rus army (like the winter theme and shields)


Game 4 - Clash of Warlords mission.against Nick's Franks

I had Nick quickly run through his battle board with me as it look rather complicated at first glance, and I found they do look interesting but maybe a little hard to use / master. For those who don't know what the key of this mission is - Hunt down and kill the opposing side's Warlord, if neither killed, its down to VP's

Nick formed his army into one massive unit of 12 mounted Hearthguard !! (not sure what to do against this)
He also had 3 units of 8 Warriors and his mounted warlord. I stuck to my plan from day one and had 3 units of 12 Levy, a unit of 12 warriors, a 8 man unit and one 4 man unit of warriors. Upon deploying I realised that I had made a mistake of making such big units of Levy - I should of had 4 units of 9 Levy each ... this would of helped me keep my units above ten a lot longer for the "Fyrd" skill, and with his 12 man horse unit these could be quickly eliminated. Having some bowmen would of helped as well.

Just want to point out I was very lucky in this game ... very lucky indeed.

Things started as I had expected and I didn't get the first turn ...again.
Nick filled his 'Battle Pool' skill (and incidentally never removed them for the course of the game, as the Franks battle board evolves around these dice in that space. Using the Exploitation (4 extra saga dice) and Oppression skills (activate x amount of units without fatigue with X being the dice in the battle pool) Nick maneuvered his horse all around my right flank and his warriors up, forming a formidable bunch on my right. Nice !
I had to move my Levy unit across to the right to hold up his horse unit, the warriors positioned themselves nicely for a counter charge. I also put a few defensive skills up such as defenders of Realm as I knew Nicks next turn was going to be decisive.
Nicks turn saw his horsie unit and Warlord charge full on into my Levy and with his "protection" skill in place - disregard X amount of hits taken with X being 3 ... and his combat pool dice, this would be hard going.
The Mounted Hearthguard got 18 hits in total and to Nick's horror (my delight) I had managed to save 12 of them !! so only suffered 6 casualties ... I caused one or two of his horse to fall over.
My next turn and I was unable to use my Fyrd skill as Nick had used his Interdiction skill on it, as this allows him to place X fatigue on a unit(s) if I have used this skill he had Interdicted.
So  it was my turn to push my Levy into melee being against a unit of his warriors, with both my combat skills in place I manage to kill 5 of his for 4 of mine. I also push a unit into the tail end of his horse unit to good effect and kill one of them.
His next turn and once again activates and smashes his mounted Hearthguard into my small warrior unit, with a grand total of 13 hits..... he should of killed them all, but I had saved 11 of them ....... Nick took it well, while I was laughing at the situation, was hard not to ........silly dice
The following couple of turns saw Nick's horse turn my unit of 12 Levy and 8 warriors down to 1 or 2 stands left (never quite enough to kill them all) then I had a lucky break and managed to retreat his warriors enough away from his warlord, so I charged in with my warlord and unit of warriors, with Nick having only one warrior there and not being able to take sufficient hits on them to cancel the 4 hits on his warlord, I manage to kill him.
A very unlucky game for Nick as my saving throws were against him, not sure how I managed to win that one, but I will take it. I did like the Franks skills, but a little too complicated/calculated for my style of play.

Result Win.

Game 5 - Wooden Oaths mission

Next up was a 4 player game - Wooden Oaths game. Seeing as there was 16 of us, we had split in to tables of 4, with myself playing with Simon's Scots, Damien's JomsVikings and Reg's Normans.

The mission is all about having alliances that allows the option in the next turn to either break that alliance and join another or stay true to your original oath. There are two teams, being Red and Black, each with their respective dead pile- once a player kills a man, you place the dead in the teams colour you are on at the that time. The winner is the side(red or black) with the most kills ..... sounds like fun - as the mission is setup so there is a lot of shafting and swapping of sides that can take place to benefit players.
Each player has a red and a black card, and at the end of each turn, he then chooses which side by placing it face down on the table and then simultaneously you all turn over to reveal the side you are on.
This happens each turn until the end of turn 4, where upon you have to keep that alliance until the end of the game in turn 6. Also each turn you have to roll off who starts the turn with the highest going first, then after he has finished you have to roll off again, this way you don't know who's going next.

I am randomly teamed with Reg's Norman's on Team Red (thank you - as he has a lot of shooting) which makes Damien and Simon our enemies in team black ... well for the time being that is.
Simon places his force in the top right corner with Damien in the top left, Reg places his 2 bow units facing Simon's bowmen, with his crossbowmen in a central wood, with two units of knights on either side of the wood. I am in bottom left corner, with over half my army facing Damien's JomsVikings and 2 units in the center half close to Reg's men in the woods.
The first turn saw Simon go first, where upon he charged his knights somewhat recklessly into Reg's bowmen unit and they dismissed the knights by killing them all for only 3 of their own losses ... Simon's dice were horrible - enough said.
My turn and I move my warrior unit up into building opposite the Jomsvikings with Levy next door (love buildings and will be taking more of them to tournaments), my troops in center edge closer to unsuspectingly towards Reg's knights and crossbowmen. Reg shoots at Simon's spear-men and takes killing a few, also charges his knights in and kills another small amount and then activates them again to retreat back to his line (nice) At the end of turn one there was a lot of dead in the red teams pile. The next turn I picked to be in the Black team (as I wanted to pick on Reg's Knights and well I felt like being traitorous) but to my horror Damien had picked the red team, damn, but lucky for me Simon stayed Black so I was now teamed up with him. That turn saw Simon charge into Damien's warriors, Damien charging into my Levy and counter charging Simon's spear-men, with more cross bolts and arrows firing across the field between the Scots and the Norman's, and myself charging into Norman knights and Damien's Hearthguard to some effect, the Red pile is growing ever larger .... time to change back to the Red side.

At the end of this turn we (after Simon had suggested it) thought it would be funnier if we randomly choose what sides we were on, so the next turn saw all of us on the same side !!! so all we could do was better position ourselves and rest units that needed too ....... the next turn saw the black team have Simon, Damien and myself against the lonely Norman player ... haha , I charge his knights then his cross bowmen taking a few from each. Damien is too far away to do anything useful and Simon throws some javelins due to his Scottish Reach skill.
In the end the Red teams dead pile was counted out to points value and then split between Simon, Damien and myself being in the red team This was not good, because even though the red pile was significantly larger than the black pile, Reg didn't have to split any points - so Reg came out the winner .. well deserved

Anyone who plays Saga and hasn't played this mission before, has to give it a go. The game was a real hoot to play, with everyone swapping sides to begin with and then us switching to a random draw, making it quite funny indeed.


The results of the Weekends gaming.
1st place  on 4 wins was Damien's JomVikings (After a very close game with Andy's Pagan Rus)
2nd equal with 3 wins each was Bede's Normans, Andy and Myself.
Best painted went to Rob Curry's Normans.
Most Warlord kills (with over 30 kills) went to Alex Byzantine's - he also came in last place with no wins.
(My Warlord could only manage a meager 7 kills !)

So all in all a great weekend.

Everyone have a good Xmas and new years


Friday, 13 December 2013

SAGA TOURNAMENT REPORT - DAY ONE

Oh La La Sa ga ga Tournament

Well, the weekend's Saga tournament was perhaps the most enjoyable and relaxed tournament I have been to in a long time. Everyone had the right attitude and with many of us being rather new to Saga, everyone picked it up rather quickly which makes a for good gaming system I think. I had played a good bunch of opponents and I had some lucky breaks at times.  And finishing early with games only lasting 1:45mins Andy and I even had time on Saturday night to get 3 hours of Windsurfing done down at Eastbourne beach which was great fun ... was a little tired arriving home 9pmish that night though.


I spent a good couple hours of Friday night painting up some shields for the levy units and also finished my Warlord, which considering the model (I don't like it at all) came out rather better than I expected.
I had a quick look at some of special characters some players were using, so I had a rough idea of what they did, then called it a night.

So Saturday morning, I put my army in a movement tray, placed a mix of terrain, including a building, trees, crop fields, and a river in a box - then headed off to the local gaming club. After much banter and gossip of who's taking what, we got underway about 9:30ish

Sorry no pic's ... forgot the camera

Game 1 - Challenge mission.against Rob Curry's Normans

This was going to be hard game to start with. For those who are unfamiliar with the mission you start with one Warlord in the center of the table, and then you place the opposing Warlord within 4" of him. Your Warlords both start with 12 wounds each, with the first to loose all wounds win. Also the Warlords pride rule states you can not activate your Warlord for a movement within 6" of another Warlord without engaging in melee, so you cannot back away into the safety of your battleline which is 12" away.

Rob had organised his warband into 2 units of 6 mounted Hearthguard knights, 8 crossbowmen, 12 bowmen and 8 warriors on foot. In response I had organised my warriors into units of 12, 8 and 4 with my Levy staying at 12 men each.

In hindsight I had stuffed up my deployment for this game, as I stupidly put my levy units out front with my warriors behind them - what I should of done was the opposite as the warlord can place hits on warriors using his resilience rule, thus saving my boss man losing wounds by placing hits on his men instead. I could of used Saxon Kingdom skill by making my Levy into warriors for a turn but I never got the appropriate dice to do this of course .... and at the time I didn't realize you could store one dice on a double dice skill ... pays to read the rule on that one!

Turn One, with Rob going first, his knight units charging my warlord with their charge skill so having 3 attack dice each (ouch!) but I roll some good saves, his warlord followed but only hit twice, he survived the 1st round with only one wound taken. My turn and didn't manage to get a helmet symbol (six) so my plan to use the "Fyrd" skill and "Saxon kingdom" died. Instead I moved my troops up and place "Bretwalda" skill and "Defenders of the realm" skill, which boosts my warlords defensive and attack dice to inflict 3 wounds !
The next 3 turn's there is much bashing of swords on shields and faces as we both hit each other's warlords, my problem of not getting my "Saxon Kingdom" skill still eluded me so I had to move my Levy aside to kill knights and move the warriors up to protect my warlord with the resilience rule. In the end Rob manages to get 11 wounds on my warlord before we have to call the game, I managed to do 7 wounds. He managed this with his crossbowmen, knights and warlord and his "Dex Aie" skill where his warlord gets an additional 5 attacks in exchange for 3 fatigue - it worked well. I had killed a fair number of hearthguard knights so was rather pleased, but just couldn't answer to the deadly Norman "Dex Aie" skill.
A very good game against a good opponent and was a beautifully painted army to face .. also learnt a few things that game which paid off in games to come

Result - Loss

Game 2 - Sacred Ground mission.against Simon's Scot's

Simon had the Scots, I almost had collected these guys myself as they looked like really good fun to paint with the kilt patterns and colours. Simon had "Macbeth" hero (which was fitting given Simon's surname)
Macbeth always generates 6 Saga dice if he is on the table, and allows one to take a unit of Norman knights that always get 3 attack dice each on the charge - not these guys again - So rather useful.

Simon organised his band into one unit of Norman Knights, 2 units of 12 spear-men and a unit of Levy bowmen. I stuck to my plan and used the same as the last game.
The table had a hill in the middle with a wood each side in the middle of the table.  For those who are unfamiliar with the mission you have to collect points for how many models you have in these terrain areas, but the trick is you only score for those points at the end of the opposing sides turn, so you have to plan to keep them there that long. The key to this mission is you can only score a max of 8 points per terrain piece per turn - so 24 points in total all up a turn. My plan was to deploy the majority of my units in the center and place two units on the left while ignoring the right side all together until later.

Simon got the first turn and moved his knights onto the hill with units mostly in the center and one spear unit on the right side. I started by have a cracker of a Saga dice roll and got 3 six's, so activated "Stout hearts" and the "Fyrd" collecting another 5 saga dice to roll (awesome) placing them on "No Surrender" which allows a free activation to all units above ten models with no fatigue given (love this ability) so with these in place I activate my units twice and move up to the left woods and center hill. Simon stacks up points for his knights on hill and warriors in woods on left.
Simon charges his knights into my big Levy unit killing 6 models to my one knight, but then decides to leave the wood with his warrior unit and places pressure on the hill in the middle by moving up and using the "Reach" skill, which is very effective as it generates a javelin attack for how many models you have, so kills another 3 stands. My turn I get "Saxon Kingdom" skill again so full charge ahead, resulting in me killing all the knights and dominating the hillside. Also charge the spear-men but due to their defensive skills cancelling my attacking bonus this is made pointless. Simon makes use of his bowmen and whittles my levy down to reduce their numbers below ten so my defensive reactions are not so good, then charges in with warriors with some effect, but still on the hill ! so I get full points for it.
The remaining turns see a fair amount of melee happening, with some of Simon's bowmen firing arrows overhead to good effect, but the numbers are in my favor and without Simon moving his bowmen into the left woods (too busy shooting every turn) he was always playing catchup for points. So a good win to me.

My dice came through for me in this game and I had made good use of my skills and placed my warriors in good spots for counter charges. Simon's always been a good player to play against being a very skillful wargamer all round so was a satisfying victory.

Result - Win

Game 3 - Battle for The Fords mission.against Hayden's Byzantines

Hayden is new to tournaments so was pleased to play against, as its always good to play someone new.
He was running a Byzantine army which was on my wishlist to play against as well, as I was interested to see how they were run and what skills they use. - I was not disappointed !.

The mission places a impassable river in the center of the table with two fords/bridges across at points 12 " away from edges and each other, with the objective being you score points for each model of yours over the fords at the end of the game. Sounds easy enough - a lot of fisty cuffs at the fords and then stroll on over!

Hayden had 2 mounted Hearthguard - which he formed into one unit of 8,
One spear armed warrior unit - which he formed into two units of 4
One Bow armed warrior unit
One Javelin Levy - which he formed into two unit of 6
and a Steppe Nomad Horse Levy unit
I stuck to my winning format of last game and used the same organisation.

Hayden had the first turn (will I ever get to go first?) Moves his Steppe horse up onto the left side bridge, with Hearthguard close behind them. Moves his Levy units and bowmen up as well on right side, then uses his "scouting" skill and activates 3 of his Levy units for free (such a handy skill and now see why he split them up) and shoots some of my levy.
My turn and I move my units up on the right side (being my punch through force) and move Warlord and 2 levy with warrior on left (being my defend this ford side) My Levy assault into the steppe horse , but Hayden activates "support archers" skill and shoots his Hearthguard at me as they are within 6" (I didn't realize they had bows even) and kills a few. then activates his "Strategikon" skill - this allows the Hearthguard to support the Steppe in melee as well (Love this skill and Hayden used it so well) so left me with more dead Levy - ouch.  Next turn sees more pointy sticks and arrow shafts heading my way over the river at my Levy units, but on the left I manage to keep his units on the bridge as my blocking force are doing their jobs well with the "Overlap shields" skill in place. My turn sees the warlord charge into the Steppe but fails to hit and almost loose him to that nasty "Strategikon" skill again. On the right my levy gets into combat with the javelin levy and makes them retreat to the side. I then activate them again and chose the bowmen but due his "mutual support skill" it leaves no choice but to target the Levy again.

The following turns sees off my levy (down to one man each in two units) and my left side is staunch in their defense (mostly due to the warlord blocking the bridge) but in my last turn I manage to push a fresh 8 man unit of warriors across and fight in melee and win pushing Hayden's bowmen back - so giving me some points in his half. It was a real close game in the end. I do like the Byzantine's skills, as they all about supporting each other, and they do it so well.

Result - Win

So 3 games against 3 great opponents with myself coming away with 2 good wins at the end of Day one ... not to shabby for me.  Andy and his Pagan Rus is doing rather well on 3 wins and will be up against Damien's JomsVikings (also on 3 wins) for the decider game of the tournament the next morning. I was told I will be against Nick's Franks .... this is going to a very hard game I feel, as Nick is a very good wargamer ... and the Franks battle board looks way complicated ! ... I will be very chuffed if I manage to win that game.

Will type up game 4 and the big multi-player game this weekend and post early next week sometime.
Cheers







Friday, 6 December 2013

TOURNAMENT THIS WEEKEND

SAGAcon tournament tomorrow, and I am looking forward to it. Have only played 5 games so far but it should be fun. Painting wise I haven't finished as much as I had hoped for, having finished just 3 units of Levy. I was hoping to get my Warlord done and maybe a small unit of warriors ... but to much happening this time of year, what with Christmas and summer fast approaching

There is an array of different armies going, which is good to see, which include
1 x Viking warband - only one which surprised me - with all Hearthguard units
3 x Normans - well represented with this many , of which one has 53 models and mostly made up of shooty stuff and a small horse units - going to be hard
2 x Byzantines
2 x Jomsvikings
1 x Scot
1 x Norse Gaels
1 x Anglo-Danish
1 x Franks
1 x Irish
1 x Pagan Rus
2 x Anglo-Saxons - my fellow Anglo-saxon player has a somewhat different army to me with 5 Warrior units and a single Levy unit, will be interesting to see how he will run it.

I think the Normans will be a hard opponent with all the shooty bits, as will the Irish. A fair amount of players have taken Hero's as well. I could of taken Alfelstan but maybe next time, best to keep it simple for now.
Maybe of been better off with buying a unit of bowmen, and a mounted warrior unit as well maybe, but I guess that's the mistake of buying an army before you play it, you dont know any better!

We had to name our warlords for the tournament, so with this I announce "The Mighty Thadeous" with his small band of sixty warriors/levy band of Wessex men.

The tournament is only 4 rounds now, with missions as follows
The Challenge
Sacred Ground
Battle at the Ford
and Clash of the Warlords

With a another end game (separate from the tournament results) being a 4 player Wooden Oaths Multi-player game - so this should be a lot of fun and has separate prizes.

Will post the results next week, with some photos and an AAR report of games played..
Cheers
Mark


Thursday, 28 November 2013

SAGA PAINTING UPDATE

Well, with it being Summer over here in NZ, I have been doing a lot of sailing and Windsurfing in the weekends and even some after work, but good news,  I have finally found some time to finish a unit of 12 Levy for my Anglo-Saxon force

I am determined to finish the other two units of Levy before the tournament, but I think that's about the most I could get done before next Saturday's deadline, as I am a rather slow painter. I'm not a huge fan of bringing unpainted models to a tournament, but the Umpire has said its ok as he would rather have people turn up and play.

So the Tournament is 6 points, with 5 rounds over two days - and with no major sailing event to go that weekend, Andrew and myself have decided to give it a go. Have only played 3 games before now but find the best way to learn a new gaming system is to dive into the deep end. I have put together a rather large Anglo-Saxon horde list together with 61 models all up. Brother Andrew is going to use his Pagan Rus list. So I am looking forward to it.

Here is some photos of my unit - I haven't done my shields yet but these can wait until after the tournament - also got to do the eyeballs but for this I need to wait for my model shop to bring in some of the paint brushes I like as they have none in stock and the one I am using at the moment has a wicked kiss curl in it and is no good for this somewhat delicate job.






Also, went around to Andrews house last night and took some shots of his Pagan Rus army he has done so far, being the faster painter, hes managed to finish his 2 units of Hearth-guard, Levy Javelin-men, and Steppe horse unit. (like me he has not done his shields yet either) - Love the winter basing he's done, looks great.

Like the striped puffed out pants on these guys

One unit of Hearth-guard - front and back


Other Unit of Hearth-guard - front and back

His Javelin Levy unit

Like the tweed stripe pants

His Steppe Horse unit



His painted army up to now , still 3 units of Warriors to do and his Warlord


Friday, 15 November 2013

SAGA GAME

SAGA GAME

Played my first proper game of  SAGA last night using 6 points, I have had a couple of practice games playing with 4 points before now but was only using proxy Mordhiem figures, so was good to play with the real miniatures. As it was our first official game we both went into it as an experimentation/practice game.

So my Anglo-Saxon horde was up against Andrews Pagan Rus mob, I didn't take any photos of the battle as both our forces are only base sprayed black so not photo worthy.


My force was simple - Warlord, 3 Warrior units and 3 Levy units (all armed with spear & shields) for which I then split one unit of 8 Warriors into two units of 4 - thus giving me 6 SAGA dice and 61 models.





Andrews force was - Warlord, 1 Hearthguard unit, 3 Warrior units, 1 Levy javelin armed unit and Steppe Horse - for 6 SAGA dice as well and 45 models.



Andrew set-up his force in the middle with his horse unit on my right flank. His Levy were on the left on hilltop.  I responded by placing my force in the middle with one unit on the right to try and stop his horse unit flanking me and being a general nuisance.

Andrew had the first turn and I would now like to point out the fact that I went into the game without knowing that much about the Pagan Rus battle boards abilities, but after Andrew finished his turn I have learnt a one valuable lesson - KNOW YOUR ENEMY'S BATTLE BOARD !!

First turn and with Andrew developing an evil grin on his face, organises his battle board and with his Fear of the Dark skill now in play promptly tells me (between laughing) to exhaust my unit of warriors on the right side by placing 3 Fatigue counters and then uses Endless wastes skill where upon you have to kill X amount of figures in a unit with X being the fatigue you have... so 3 dead warriors ! (must admit its a awesome combo) He then activates his steppe unit and proceeds to shoot and kills another warrior from that unit on the right.

So all in all a horrible start - an exhausted 4 man warrior unit that cant do much! leaving me somewhat sad. My first turn, with the help of the Stout Hearts and Fryd skill I rolled additional 3 Saga dice (so useful) , I get to do my Muster skill where I can activate all units if above 10 models so move units up and have no choice but to Rest the now small unit of warriors on right.

Andrews 2nd turn, and to my peril gets Endless Wastes skill again and I loose another 2 models from the warrior unit (more laughter), and after some good shooting the unit gets wiped out ! Andrew replies by boasting "that's how its done dude!"

The following turns I had learnt my lesson and the game was a little more balanced which involved multiple melee's and after a couple of hours playing (which went by very fast indeed) I eventually take out all 8 steppe horse, some warriors and a score of his Levy. Andrew managed to kill a heap of warriors and some Levy ... (sorry cant remember exact numbers) which I think we worked out to be small win to Andy.

I like my Bretwalda ability where upon my warlord can afford to rush out by himself and launch an assault against a weakened enemy unit. The skill jumps his armour to 6 and allows for him to re-roll all failed defensive dice, nice. My Shoulder to Shoulder and Clash of shields abilities are also very handy as a Melee/shooting reaction skill. My Defenders of the realm (giving me extra attack/defense dice) and Saxon Kingdoms skill (treat Levy as Warriors) are my favorites.

Andrew used his Biting like Wolves and Standing like Bears melee abilities very effectively and The great Winter skill is most annoying as it limits movement and shooting ranges. His Frozen skill is another useful skill where upon he can cancel enemy activating the same unit twice.

Saga is a fun and challenging game system that with time spent studying your battle board skills and learning what the enemy can do, will no doubt pay off in competition play. All up another fun night gaming where I have learnt more about my army and to beware of Andy's nasty skill combo's he has got up his sleeve, so until next time - with a little more painted up figures and some photos to share !

Friday, 8 November 2013

WHAT SHOULD I DO FOR NZ WARGAMING NATIONAL CONVENTION ? AND SOME CHANGES TO ARMY'S WITH REVISED RED BEAR RELEASE


In New Zealand we have a National wargaming convention held over Easter each year, which is shared around the country with the North Island's Hamilton, Central Wellington and Chirstchurch in the South Island each having a turn. I have been to every one so far since year 2000, so 13 years worth all up, and is slowly becoming a tradition at Easter for me !

The sad rumor is, that the organiser for the Flames of War tournament at next year's NATCON is only going to put two periods on offer, with those being Mid War and Late War only , so very annoyed there is no Early war ! , especially since there was no early war at Nationals last year and also now that Valleycon has changed its format this February to Late War as well. So yet again my Vichy French EW force has been put on hold for a while.  With the new Early War books that have been released I thought there might of been an increase in popularity but maybe not the case in the South Island perhaps. Early War is still my personnel favorite period I have to say (also is Andrews favorite as well)

So with this sad news, what do I run at Natcon next year ? ? 


OR


Also heard that they may be running a Saga tournament at Nationals so I may very well go to this in the end if they indeed go ahead with it, apart from encouraging me to paint my rather large Anglo-Saxon force it does sound interesting and is something different, which is always good to do now and again. I have only played the game twice so far (with proxies) so will no doubt have to have a few more practice games before long, but going a new system to a new tournament is a very good way to learn the rules and on how to use your own army, as your multiple opponents will teach you more than any practice game's with mates will - so in that respect it would be worth it I think.

If there is no Saga tournament on offer, then I am more than likely to take a Late War army, and will probably take use of the recent changes in the revised Red Bear book and either go my Light Assault Gun SU-76M army or the KV-1e Guards Heavy tank army that I have yet to finish.

Both armies have had some significant changes made to them, lowering their points a fair bit for the SU-76M and adding extra Weapons and Support options for the Heavy tank army, which is a welcome change for me. The KV-1e army which I posted back in September would have the following changes.

KV-1e with mine rollers
Existing army I had worked out had been:
HQ - KV-1e tank
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with two having a mine roller
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with two having a mine roller
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with two having a mine roller
Combat - KV-1s x 3
Support - Submachine-gun Company - 22x SMG teams
Support - Artillery Battalion - With 8x ZIS 3 guns and 4x 122mm obr 1938 guns
Add Observer team and PTRD anti-tank rifle

And now with the New Red Bear changes, it has :
HQ - KV-1e tank
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with a mine roller
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with a mine roller
Combat - KV-1e x 3 with a mine roller
Combat - KV-1s x 3
Weapons - Assault Gun Recon platoon - With 9x R/MG recon teams
Weapons - Assault Gun Sapper Company - 6x Pioneer rifle teams
Support - Anti-Aircraft Company - With 4x 37mm obr 1939 guns
Support Artillery Battalion - With 8x ZIS 3 guns and 4x 122mm obr 1938 guns
Add Observer team

So for the loss of the Submachine-gun company and AT rifle team, I have picked up another platoon in the form of some vital Air protection, also some recon infantry unit and a small but useful Pioneer platoon - so 8 platoons in total, not bad at all.


My SU-76M model 
Or should I do the SU-76M army perhaps? It has had some significant price reductions made in Katyusha's, Churchuills and SU-76M, so army picks up 10 platoons in total being ..

HQ -  T-70 obr 1943 tank
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Weapons - Assault Gun Recon platoon - With 9x R/MG recon teams
Weapons - Assault Gun Sapper Company - 6x Pioneer rifle teams
Support - Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy Company with 4x Mark IV (Churchill's)
Support - Flame Tank Company with 10x OT-34
Support - Tank Destruction Company with 4x 57mm ZIS 2 guns with PTRD anti-tank rifle
Support - Strelkovy Company with 15x R/MG teams with one platoon upgraded to SMG's
Support - Guards Rocket Mortar Battalion -  4x BM-13-16 Katyusha's with extra crew
               with 2x DShK AA trucks

Army has a bit of everything now, with a large Recon unit, Heavy tanks, AA, Pioneers, Rockets, AT 11, Flame tanks and a bucket load of assault gun dice all volley firing. The Infantry are needed to protect the SU-76 as they don't have any MG dice to speak of, so rather vulnerable to infantry assaults.

Another option would be to drop the Flame tanks and put in some PT-34 mine roller tanks (just cause they look cool .....  so army would be something like this :
HQ -  T-70 obr 1943 tank
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Combat - Assault Gun platoon with 4x SU-76M
Weapons - Assault Gun Recon platoon - With 9x R/MG recon teams
Weapons - Assault Gun Sapper Company - 6x Pioneer rifle teams
Support - Gvardeyskiy Tyazhelyy Tankovy Company with 4x Mark IV (Churchill's)
Support - Mine Roller Tank Company with 10x PT-34
Support - Tank Destruction Company with 4x 57mm ZIS 2 guns with PTRD anti-tank rifle
Support - Strelkovy Company with 7x R/MG teams upgraded to SMG's
Support - Guards Rocket Mortar Battalion -  4x BM-13-16 Katyusha's with extra crew

So I would loose one platoon of the Strelkovy and the DShK AA trucks
Think I prefer the first option, but have never used the Mine Roller unit and would be good chance to try them out I guess, and I do like the model

But I guess its still early days yet, so plenty of time to decide and work on.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

SAGA MODEL UPDATE ... AND VIKING BOOKS

SAGA MODEL's

I received my Anglo-Saxon army with Andrew's Pagan Rus army in the post a couple of weeks ago. Have to say the models look great and am looking forward to painting them up. Andrews Pagan Rus with their rectangular shields and the Steppe bow armed horsemen are fantastic models too. These will be the first 28mm models I have begun so will be interesting for me. I have done Warhammer models but never done that many human figures per-say.

So I have been busy cleaning off the sprue lines and making them up with spears and what not. Based them up with poly filler and all are spay painted black ready for some painting attention.

My army just un-packed out of the box.

Anglo-Saxon Army ready for painting!



My Anglo-Saxon army I had decided for in the end was rather on the large scale, as I invested in a Warlord, a unit of Hearthguard, 3 units of Warriors and 3 units of Levies, all of which are armed with spears and shields. You have no doubt spotted this is in fact 7 points but I thought the extra point of models will offer some change to the army to mix things up.

Andrews Pagan Rus army has his Warlord, 2 unit's of Hearthguard, 3 units of Warriors and 1 unit of Levies with Javelins, he also got a unit of Steppe horsemen as well.

Andy's Pagan-Rus army
Andy has all ready painted up one of horsemen, still has to apply a
final highlight to face and other areas and to flock up the base ... but looking good so far.

So hope to get the first unit of warriors all finished within a couple of weeks and a practice game in as well.
Will no doubt have to make some terrain for this as well, as our flames of war is slightly off scale.


Also, I have just started reading the Warrior Chronicle series from Bernard Cornwall with the first book of five being "The Last Kingdom" which is all about the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings era.  Andrew has read them all and with picking the Anglo-Saxon force for Saga, he has recommended me to start, and I have to say I have enjoyed the book and now know more about the army I have picked.


The Last Kingdom, like most of Bernard Cornwell's books, is firmly based on true history. It tells the tale of "Uhtred who is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of ninth-century Northumbria. Orphaned at ten, he is captured and adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the only English kingdom to survive the Danish assault. The book outlines Alfred the Great and his descendants and of the enemies they faced, Viking warriors like Ivar the Boneless and his feared brother, Ubba".  Its a great read and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series titled "The Pale Horseman"

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

REBEL RAIDERS ON THE HIGH SEAS, THE BOARD GAME




 "Rebel Raiders on the High Seas" - I got this game at the same time I brought the " Wilderness War" game from GMT games back in August, as with our interest in anything to do with the Civil war period having visited many of the battle sites and forts with our multitude of trips to America and reading many books on it, this game had a lot of appeal to us hence the main reason in buying it. We have played two games of it since then, with the first being interesting but as always I always seem to get a few things wrong on the first outing of a board game so after a re-read of the rules Andy and I played another game of it in the weekend (finally!) and it was a really fun and interactive board game.

It is a 2 player game all about coastal and river battles and raids including blockade runners (gathering supplies), screw sloops, gunboats and the mighty Ironclad boats of the period between the Confederates and Union during the American Civil War. The game spans from 1861 to 1864 with 3 periods to each year giving it 12 turns each.


The concept of the game for the Confederacy player is to gain victory points through carrying cargo from the European and neutral ports to the CSA ports using blockade runners and also to conduct raids against the Union shipping using Raiders. These points are then converted into build points where you can purchase more boats and gun batteries. These will form the defense you will need to repel the Union assaults from land- and amphibious-based attacks.

The Federal player has to try to prevent the Rebels gaining VP by sinking raiders and blockade runners, blockading ports and coastal areas with patrolling ships to prevent the blockade runners from getting through and to advance the land and river campaign by taking vital river ports and towns (Richmond and Atlanta) by force thus reducing the effectiveness of the Confederacy.

The victory conditions are for the Union to capture at least 16 Confederate cities, one of which must be Richmond or Atlanta as well as all the green river ports, with the Confederacy is in a negative VP score. The Rebels have only to prevent this to win. There is also an Union "instant win" condition by capturing Richmond AND Atlanta while controlling the Mississippi river ports at the same time that the Confederacy has the negative VP score.


First impressions of the game - The map looks good but it is a fold out paper map, rather than cardboard mounted, so was a little disappointed in that aspect - but the graphics look great and have the names of all the Union places/generals etc facing the Union player and the Rebels facing the other way, so all information relative to each player is easy to see, which is clever. The pieces look good as do the playing cards. There is quite a wide variety of cards on offer as well, so gives the game good replayability



So on the weekend I was playing the rebel confederates while Andrew was playing the Union side, I had some good luck with my blockade runners and raiders early on, while Andy massed river boats and assaulted up the Mississippi river and captured all the vital river ports, and then across inland to Atlanta, but he was denied the overall win as he failed to take Richmond from me and I rarely dropped into the negative victory points, but it was a close run thing, and my cards were good to me in the dying turns.


A detailed look into the game then :

The movement of ships are links between Mississippi River ports, Ocean Ports, Blockade stations, coastal and ocean spaces and each type of ship has different movement values. There are five types of ships - Rebel Blockade runners - these spend most of their time running the gauntlet of the blockade stations to get vital cargo through, then there are the Rebel Raiders - which raid sea zones and the vital whaling zones. Stopping them is the Union Sloop-ships which are forever on search and destroy missions in the coastal and ocean spaces. Their movement points can be spent to search as well as to intensify a search. You can use different methods to search with groups of or individual searches. They can enter the river but only as far as Vicksburg. The other ships are the Ironclads and the Gun boats which both sides are allowed, both can only move in rivers and coastal sea zones only, and the Ironclad must be towed at sea. The gun boats help in the protection of the blockade stations and is useful for attacking batteries and other gun boats up the river. The Ironclads are very hard to kill in assaults making them very valuable in defeating / defending vital ports and river ways.

Combat is rather easy to work out, where ships roll a number of attack dice depending on type and also whether it is sheilded or not by batteries or Ironclads. There are different combinations of ship-to-ship, ship vs. battery and mixed battles, with some ships "protecting" others and so forth. Combat lasts until all ships are destroyed or retreat, with limitations on retreating based on where the combat occurs.

Land combat consists of a die roll between each player, basically a comparative die roll, with the highest die roll chosen from a number of dice which varies with year and card play modifiers. There's an option for the Union to trade dice for a +1 on the die roll (up to a maximum of 3) and a extra bonus for rolling doubles, triples or quadruples.


Reinforcements come in the form of year-variable build points, which are converted to various types of vessels. The rebel also get 2 free batteries each turn and the Union receive 2 guns boat a turn, as well as two amphibious/land assault pawns per turn. Advance planning is needed here so that you have enough assault pawns,  as you have to "buy" extra assault pawns (which allow you to conduct land and amphibious assaults) the turn before - the Union can buy two more for a total of four. The Confederacy has only one counter-attack pawn and has to pay in advance, and paying in advance for an Assault marker that you might not have the opportunity to use (or worse, use and fail) is a tricky consideration.

The supply is rather simple as well, its called "withering on the vine" in the game as it is when Rebel river forts and inland forts are not connected from a previous assault by the Union and is cut off, so depletes vital VP's from the confederacy by rolling two dice (or 3 sometimes) and taking the difference between them.

Cards are played to create permanent or temporary global (or location/situation specific) effects - i.e. Some cards prevent the play of other cards, some cards cancel the effects of others, some cards allow ongoing benefits or penalties. Others are combat specific, being played in certain circumstances in combat to add modifiers (various "named" ship cards), take units out of play or modify their abilities or to add (or remove) dice used in assaults.




Still others add or subtract build points or allow "free builds" of units, there are also cards which represent leaders in play and add dice to assaults in certain locations.

You can play cards at any time unless a specific phase or situation is dictated on the card - and a fairly detailed hierarchy of play order is specified - we never ran into ambiguity on that count.

You are dealt three cards to start, and then gain another three cards during the build phase of each turn, unless the Confederate player has negative VPs (in which case only two cards are added) and in later 1864 turns, when the Union player gets four cards. Cards played are not replaced (except by specific card instructions to do so) so hand management and play of cards are important. Your hand limit is six cards, which is enforced towards the end of the build phase.


There are a multitude of strategies that come to mind when playing the Union side on how to win the game, the first is to smother all the 6 vital coastal areas with ship sloops and make it harder for the blockade runners to get through, while capturing vital remote sea ports such as Key west. Another is too concentrate on the Mississippi (as Andrew had done) and sweep inland. Another would be to take Richmond early on and thus capturing their capital for which looses them vital points each turn as their supply roll has an extra die.

 The game has lots of different ways of playing it I feel, so looking forward to the next game.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

ARMY SPOTLIGHT - MID WAR OPOLCHENIYA BATALION

MID WAR OPOLCHENIYA BATALION
Soviet Militia

My force with Fortifications out front.
Another Flames of War Army spotlight to show, this time I want to share my Mid War Soviet Militia Force which I have used many times in the past and is one of my favorite Mid war forces. It was the first army of my own that I used competitively at tournaments, which I have taken to a fair few in the past including one Mid War Battlefront Grand tournaments way back in 2008. Its a somewhat forgiving force with it having rather large companies and was rather easy to learn playing with especially with rolling infantry saves, and with Andy diving into his Italians and Romanians as well at the time, it made for some interesting games on the home front.

The Militia force has its history based on the quickly raised civilian units which formed the initial defense of Stalingrad, effectively stalling the Germans before the regular Red army boys got there. So as you could expect it has a fair share of limitations placed within the army on what you can take - including limited tanks, very limited high end anti-tank and limited mortars and artillery to name a few, but what it lacks in these limitations it makes up for in lots of SMG's, anti-tank rifles, anti-aircraft guns, machine-guns and of course its large cheap Rifle platoons,

I have based all my Russian models around this force, having the majority of my models in the heart of a bombed out and wrecked city and other units setting up defenses on the edges. The cobble streets are just a poly-filler base with lines scoured through with a knife before it sets, looks good and easy enough to do.

Following some interesting history I looked up when making the army, I found that the burden of the initial defense of Stalingrad fell on the 1077th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, a unit made up mainly of young female volunteers who had no training for engaging ground targets, and with no support available from other units, the AA gunners stayed at their posts and took on the advancing panzers. The German 16th Panzer Division reportedly had to fight the 1077th's gunners "shot for shot" until all 37 anti-aircraft guns were destroyed or overrun. The Panzer Division was shocked to find that, due to Soviet manpower shortages, it had been fighting female soldiers. So with this in history in mind I did some minor work on my Anti-Aircraft platoon of 37mm obr 1939 AA gun crews, where as I sculpted them up as women, by extending their coats to look like dresses and filling out the chest area.

The sapper unit has options for unarmed teams within it, so seeing this I quickly converted some Peter Pig civilian miniatures I had so they carried shovels and picks and using hand carts, as if they were digging fortifications for the upcoming attack - very pleased with the result.

I have taken my Militia force with many different options, spanning from an offensive always attack force with a large blob of Shtraf and Flame-thrower tanks thrown in, a another variant with mass artillery batteries.

If this list was updated I would hope it would include some street barricades and trenches and other defenses, as the civilians were often put to work making these about the place. Also would like to see more options of taking unarmed teams in the rifle platoons as more often than not, the civilian units formed up with only half the men having rifles - the others would have to pick up the rifle from the fallen ones in the proceeding battle.

The best force for the Militia I took at a 1625 point army was the following and
I had placed rather well with it, being in the top quarter of the field.
All rated as Confident Conscript with all their support taken from the Red army which is rated as Fearless Conscript. All units have Kommissar teams with them except the AT-Rifle company

MID-WAR Infantry force
HQ - CO and 2IC Rifle teams with Battalion Kommissar Team

Combat - Opolcheniya Company with 2 Rifle platoons and 3 PTRD Anti-tank Rifles

Combat - Opolcheniya Company with 2 Rifle platoons and 3 PTRD Anti-tank Rifles
These form the core of the force with 18 rifle stands, commander and kommissar team and 3 AT rifles at their side.


Combat - Opolcheniya Mortar Company with 6x 82-BM-41 Mortars
These are dead useful - and six tubes for 65points are a steal, you get re-rolls or double width and if you decide to direct fire them you also get to use the volley fire rule if within 16" - so I tend to move them up behind the rifle platoons and do just that.

Weapons - Opolcheniya Anti-tank Company with 6x 45mm obr 1937 guns
These small caliber guns are the only AT asset the Militia get, but keep most light and some medium tanks at bay having ROF 3 and AT 7. They can not upgrade to 1942 model AT 8 guns.



Weapons - Opolcheniya Anti-tank Rifle Company with 12x PTRD AT Rifle teams
I usually combat attach these to the Rifle platoons and give some to the mortar platoon as well. With AT3 in assaults they comes in handy and keep little tanks at bay.



Weapons - Opolcheniya Artillery Battery with 8x 76mm ZIS 3 guns and 4x 76mm obr 1927 guns
This battery differs from the ordinary Strelkovy battery as it doesn't allow the option of taking the 122mm howitzer, switching it for the small regimental 76mm obr 1927 pop guns instead. So this means no steel wall rule either ! so the unit is rather limited, but still a good buy as it offers the long range and high AT of 9 from the ZIS-3 guns to the army. 





Support - Opolcheniya Anti-Aircraft Defense Company with 6x 37mm obr 1939 guns
I nearly always take this unit, offers good AT and high ROF and will keep all but the most determined planes away.Conversions on the skirts and chests.







Support - Sapper Company with 3 platoons - all unarmed and with supply wagon
These guys are the center piece for my army and captures the flavor of this militia force very well. Quite often get remarks "why on earth would you disarm them for... as you have to re-roll all your hits in combat" - cause it looks cool ! and it gets me the supply wagon for free. Rated as Fearless Conscripts as well.






Support - Heavy Tank Company with 3x KV-2 tanks
This is my favorite tank of WW2 - a beast with such a high and somewhat silly looking silhouette - looks awesome I think and was the main reason I take the KV-2 over others that are on offer.
Its a rubbish tank as far as FOW rules goes, with only ROF 1 and hen and chicks rule, its pretty bad, the only thing going for it is its AT 10, 1+ bunkerbuster ability. Rated as Fearless Conscripts as well.





So 9 platoons in total, but I often would of combat attached out the AT rifles so would be 8 platoons total.


some more photos of the army