Monday, January 2, 2017

Santa was good to me this year.

I've been a bit absent and have neglected the blog in the past few months. Real life tends to sneak up on you that way. I can't complain though because I was able to take a nice holiday break with my family and spend some good quality time with them all over the last few weeks.

Mrs. Claus and her elves, a.k.a. General ze Wife and the Teenage Spies, were good to dear old dad this Christmas. I compiled my wish lists with great care to hopefully ensure whatever was decided might possibly be a bit heavy in hobby related items than the traditional socks, pajamas, ect., etc, that my loves thought I needed. I can say this year was a complete surprise and more than I could have ever hoped for. Perhaps the General is warming to the idea of me spending all my time in the Laundry Room Barracks or perhaps she just wants me out of her hair in the evenings, either way, a small victory for my men and I was won this season.
I spent the better part of last year doing modern 20mm and decided that 2017 would be dedicated, for the most part, to WWII. With that in mind a platoon of Shermans, a couple of StuG III's and some Tigers were part of the Christmas gifts. I did also receive plenty of Land Rovers to convert for my modern gaming as well as a variety of paint, a platoon of WWII US Paratroopers and a platoon of German Fallschirmjager.

Not only did the General give me a set of the coolest bookends ever, but added to the military library.

The Queen Mother also contributed to my hobby pursuit this year. The platoon of German WWII paras were from her and the Father-In-Law General. Much, much, much to my surprise they also felt I needed to add to my collection of militaria. This was not as welcomed by General ze Wife who protested that I had already acquired more "old junk" than I needed. The Queen Mother just smiled and with a wave of her royal hand the General had to stand down. Sensing victory, I quickly stashed my loot out of site of the General and fetched a glass of her favorite fermented grapes to ease her temperament.
The gifts from the Queen Mother and the Father-In-Law General were absolutely amazing. I could have never imagined receiving such amazing and well preserved items. They span the range from WWI to modern civil war. The photo below shows some of the items and include a JNA/Serbian helmet used during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. There are multiple original photos including one dated December 1, 1917 showing Company C, 118th Infantry at Camp Servier in Greenville, SC. There are a smattering of original WWII documents, a small hand made wooden child's toy ship and a cast toy of a WWII motorcycle. The old photos even included one of a girl in a bikini that had an old love letter to a GI with it. My WWII gaming is going to be mostly Europe, but going through these items just might spur my interest in the Pacific theater.

I hope everyone had as blessed a Christmas and Happy New Year.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Modern Bolt Action

I have watched tons of online videos and read countless blogs about everything from painting, basing, rules, terrain, how-to's, how-not to's (I'm sure I'm leaving something out) since I got back into wargaming historical miniatures last Christmas. It's almost a full-time job just trying to absorb the information. I have learned much to say the least, especially that there are more opinions about rules sets than I would have imagined. I've also learned to stay pretty quiet about the subject myself because if you do make a reference about a particular set, you are very likely to find yourself in a back alley knife fight with some rules lawyer. That said I have discovered one thing, I enjoy my models based individually and I like more of a skirmish style game.

My go to rules so far have been Force on Force and Danger Close. Both offer me the kind of quick, modern skirmish game I like to play. I am still experimenting with various rules and have also learned that having an open mind can be rewarding in this adventure. Many of the guys in my wargaming group on Miniature Modeling Mayhem play Flames of War and Team Yankee. I have not played those yet but I enjoy learning about the history of WWII from them during our video chats. I have recently been looking at options for WWII games and 20mm miniatures for WWII skirmish style games. I have a few moderns in 28mm, but I prefer 20mm just for the fact that I can store the models, terrain and vehicles more so than 28mm. During my search I stumbled upon Jay's Wargaming Madness blog. Jay is in California and plays a lot of Bolt Action as well as moderns with some really cool terrain and models. While digging around his blog I found a version of modern rules Jay has created using the Bolt Action rules.
 I downloaded the files Jay posted for free and gave them a try this weekend. They are easy to learn, fast play and very fun. I don't own the main Bolt Action rulebook or the associated order dice but I was able to use some dice I had laying around for this purpose. The rules are fairly complete as they are but I think I might pick up a copy of the main rules as well. I really enjoyed the mechanics of the game and like I said it was really easy to pick up. Of course (this is the part where rules lawyers should close there eyes and skip ahead) I added a few elements from other rules like Random Events ie: Fog of War to add some spice to my solo game. You can download his ruleset for free and he has also created some army lists to go with them. If you are looking for a fun, quick modern rule set I would encourage you to give them a try. That said, I am no expert on anything rules or even weapons for that matter. Some of you might find these rules to simple for your taste, etc, etc. I found them to be fun for me so that is about the extent of my approval. Below are some photos from the other night. Sorry for the quality of the pics. I was more concerned with picking my way through the rules.

Scenario (generic middle east to keep it simple): 
A 5-man US Special Forces team are entering a village to extract a high level warlord from his compound. His compound is guarded by his personal six-man security force. The SopF are entering the town on foot from the west. The plan calls for the team to drop a sniper on a rooftop with line of sight to the warlords' compound as an overwatch element. Once the SopF sniper is in place two Ranger fire teams will enter the town from the main northern road. They are tasked with securing the street and bazaar in the middle of the village and acting as a blocking unit for the SopF. The village is controlled by the warlord and has three cells of militia present. Due to the value of the target of interest, the US forces also have two Apache gunships that can be mobilized if needed for Close Air Support.

Board size: 2'x2'    Scale: 20mm    Rules: Bolt Action Modern w/house rules for Random Events

Turn 1 action 1 saw the US Humvees get hit with a random event (red markers) right out of the gate (this is not a part of Bolt Action). The first Humvee takes incoming sniper fire.

Another action die draw for the US gets the SopF guys activated and running toward their objective.

 I was feeling pretty good about the US forces drawing the first three order die from the bag. It gave me the momentum to get my forces set-up. The fourth one went to the insurgents and the US was back with the fifth order dice which allowed them to get the SopF sniper on the roof. Everything was going well and then I realized that the US would only have one more order this turn while the militia still had four (each unit get's one order die). Yikes. Pretty nerve wracking to know that all hell is going to break loose and you are kind of out of options. Just two order die later would see the demise of one of the humvees and the four Rangers occupying it. I'm not sure I could have played that out any differently, perhaps concentrating on moving my SopF guys but that would have left them totally exposed on the street without the cover of the Rangers. I think what intrigues me about the way the basic order of play unfolds is that once you have played a turn or two, you realize very quickly that every single move you make needs to very strategic. Especially if you only have a few units and they need to get from point A to point B. You can find yourself in a really bad place if you don't think your way through each order.

I'm pretty positive I missed a bunch of stuff during this first game, I hope not. But I stress, although the rules might not be to your taste, I found them to be a very fun game and really quick to pick-up the basics.

Here are some additional photos. Not my usual AAR as I was trying to use the game to learn the rules but I didn't become bored or over confused when playing so I'll be trying this one out a few more times.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Rescue in Al-Qunytirah AAR

After spending the better part of four evenings trying to get in my last game (being a dad tends to cut into long stretches of my time), I didn't want to leave an event unresolved. Besides, General ze Wife and the youngest Teenage Spy were still enjoying the final days of their retreat with the Queen Mother. If I could get a new board set up and get a quick game in I would still have time to tidy up the fort, clean the mess hall and check on the laundry detail before I needed to pick the General and her trusty associate up at the airbase. In the last game, a Crew from the BBC had been captured by an insurgent militia (see previous post). During a major firefight in the game prior to the UN petrol storage base at Al-Qunytirah being overrun, four BBC journalists were taken hostage. I couldn't just pack up the troops without continuing this story line so...

An informant provided intel that the crew were being held at a compound in the lush agricultural area several miles from the city where the battle had taken place. A team of U.S. Special Forces was assembled to rescue the TV crew composed of a British reporter, a Welsh producer, an American sound man and an Australian cameraman. Although the crew was working for a British TV network, the Americans were chosen for the mission due to their proximity to the location. Rumor has it British SAS were preoccupied watching a cricket match and eating crumpets and tea. Sources have been unable to confirm this though. It could actually be because I don’t have any British Special Forces miniatures. Either way, a hostage rescue mission was underway.

Rules: Danger Close    Scale: 20mm | 1/72


The two Special Forces fire teams would be four members strong. A Lieutenant attached to fire team 2 would be leading the raid. Each team was made up of a team leader, SAW gunner, rifleman and a Grenadier.
The U.S. Special Forces Fire Teams. Mostly Mars 72003 Modern US Soldiers.
The two teams would use the cover of darkness to arrive on the outskirts of the compound at dawn. They had been dropped several km away and made their way to the southwest corner of a small village. Two buildings were inside the compound but the informant did not know which one held the hostages. Intel determined an enemy force of about 15-20 fighters were in the village and the compound. The team would need to rescue the hostages and make their way north to a rendezvous point for air extraction.   
Recon photo of compound looking west.

Recon photo of compound looking south.

Recon photo of compound looking southeast.

U.S. Special Forces arrive at the village just before dawn.
The rescue team prepares to enter the village from the southwest. Here they will split up into two fire teams. Fire Team 1 will go northeast from this point. Fire Team 2 team will head north past the market (corner seen) and then move east toward the compound through the fields.

The Lieutenant gives some final instructions before the teams break apart.

Fire Team 1 moves out slowly. 


Shortly after moving into the village Team 1 is spotted by one of two insurgents in a ruined building. He fires into the first light of the morning slightly injuring a member of the team.

The two insurgents in the building didn't know what hit them after firing that shot. Probably best to let operators just walk on by. It was lights out for those guys.
Fire Team 2 makes their way through a field and keep moving toward their objective. You can see Team 1 behind them tending to the light wound.

Team 2 is forced to split up after hitting a Random Event marker. Not a big deal as they just needed to check on some movement on the left flank. Just a stray dog.

Moving slower than normal due to the injury, Team 1 finds themselves in a tight spot. The brief firefight with the insurgents in the building has attracted the attention of three insurgents who were walking down the dirt road toward the compound (activated by hot spot). Two of the insurgents are able to spot the team making their way up a knoll to their right. They fire and miss. Fortunately the SAW does not and one insurgent is soon on his way to meet Allah.  

Hearing the commotion, the insurgents in the compound scramble to take a defensive position. Three members of Team 2 are heading to breach the compound wall on the southeast corner near a small garden area. The other two members of the team will enter from the southwest corner. 

An insurgent on the rooftop spots the team moving through the field. He takes a shot and causes another light wound to the team. The insurgents who were moving up the road on Team 1's left flank are able to kill two of the team members in the chaos of the fight. Team 1 is taking fire from the left and from the their front. The two team members alive are both wounded and work as quickly as they can to move their fallen comrades and themselves to the cover of some thick brush. The insurgents don't spot them and run toward the compound.
Slow and steady.

Insurgents ready for a fight within the compound.

The compound is breached by members of Team 2.

Crawling up behind an insurgent a team member silently sends him to martyrdom.

Three members of Team 2 reach the first building of the compound and throw in a concussion grenade.

The SAW gunner let's loose on insurgents on the rooftop of the next building.

The rooftop threat is subdued.

After an intense firefight inside the compound, the Special Forces operators are able to free the hostages and regroup with their injured and dead on the dirt track in front of the compound. Shortly after regrouping a team member triggers a mine. Three soldiers and the producer are hit. The blast kills the Lieutenant. 

Sgt. Nelson takes control of the team and keeps their moral intact enough to keep them moving to the extraction point. 

The team encounters resistance from three insurgents who appear on the dirt track north of the compound and about 1km from the extraction point. The team opens fire on them and the SAW gunner hits his mark quickly eliminating the threat. 

The team has accomplished their mission, rescued the hostages, and no man was left behind.

Victory to the Americans for completing their objective of freeing the hostages and getting off the north side of the board.