Monday 30 November 2015

Bolt Action Yanks [39]

In what's left of the year, namely the next three weeks before I'm off on holiday, I've decided just to tackle the handful of 28mm Artizan US figures for the long-running Bolt Action late war project, leaving my other plans for the coming year. As you can see, this isn't a very ambitious selection but is all I'll be able to manage in the very busy run up to the end of term. There's a 57mm anti-tank gun and crew, a 60mm light mortar and crew, a Forward Observer, a company and a platoon commander, an NCO and a few riflemen and carbine armed G.I.'s. I may try to squeeze in a vehicle or support unit of some sort but time is short, so this lot will be my focus for December. 

Bolt Action Bombed Out Buildings

There's a 15% off sale on at Timeline Miniatures so I thought I'd get some more laser cut mdf buildings for Bolt Action, as I haven't put one together for at least a couple of weeks! The idea is to use them for war damaged winter built up terrain in the Ardennes, Rhineland and Holland, so I may add some timber framing and other features to make them look the part. I also ordered a similar kit from Charlie Foxtrot models, which is a company I'd never heard of before but which has some really nice ruined buildings. I doubt I'll get round to assembling any of these before Xmas but they will help to fill up my stocking.

Sunday 29 November 2015

Bolt Action Yanks [38]

In the game the other day Mike used a medium mortar with spotter to pin down one of my infantry units very effectively, while outranging my 60mm light mortar and preventing it from doing it's intended role of laying down smoke to cover my assault. I realised that I could do with up-gunning my mortar capability, so had a rummage in the spares box to locate the 81mm mortar that I didn't get round to painting up when I originally started the project.
I found the mortar but couldn't find enough figures to use as crew, at least not ones that looked right together, so was about to give up the whole idea when I realised a very simple solution was staring me in the face. What if I unglued the 60mm mortar from the exiting crew base and substituted the 81mm one instead? I had used three crew for the 60mm mortar, when the rulebook states you only need two, so it was an easy swap over to the larger three man crew base for the 81mm mortar.
I then thought, why not try to save the 60mm mortar and re-base it with the two crew figures that I had in the spares box? This was a bonus and made good use of the otherwise redundant mortar tube. The Bolt Action main rulebook states that only two crew are needed for the light mortar but the Armies of the United States supplement says you need three, so another rummage turned up a spare MMG ammo supply figure to do the job, just in case.
This just left the spotter figure for the 81mm, which was the original purpose of the whole thing, so I based up a prone NCO with walkie-talkie radio on a separate base, ready to be deployed with the mortar as and when I needed some long range fire support. This means that I now will have the option to deploy either a light or a medium mortar complete with a spotter, adding some pretty useful indirect firepower to the reinforced infantry platoon.
Job's a good 'un....although I still need to paint them up!

Friday 27 November 2015

Rate of Fire Revisited

I've had these rules for years now but have never had the chance to try them out. I bought my copies of the rules and AFV supplement in a North Star sale back in 2010 and thought they looked pretty solid, with some common sense mechanisms and all the usual elements you'd expect from a 28mm skirmish level game. I've dug them out of the pile and will try to get a playtest game set up at the club to try them out, although this will have to be some time in the New Year. In the meantime, I'll be re-reading the rules to see if they might be another alternative to Bolt Action, which is a great set of rules but with something missing?

Thursday 26 November 2015

Bolt Action Big Ass Bird

As I'm painting up a Forward Observer for my late war US infantry platoon, I thought I'd see if I could get hold of a suitable fighter bomber for ground attack missions in 1/48th scale. I have a number of 1/48th scale plastic kits that I could glue together but I haven't got the time, so I went down the ready assembled plastic or die cast route. The end result, after some hunting about on eBay, is a 1/48th scale bubbletop P47D pre-paint by Easy Model, which is perfect for what I want and only cost a tenner with free postage. I'll have a rummage in the bits box for some 500lb bombs to sling under the wings and weather it down a bit, then all I'll need is a flight stand!

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Bolt Action US Extras

G.I.'s scan the battlefield for that missing camouflaged Sherman *
I really enjoyed dusting off the late war US infantry for the Bolt Action game so have decided to finish off a handful of figures that I prepared earlier in the year, which will give me a few more options for the next game. These were originally intended as reinforcements to bring the platoon up to Chain of Command strength but I think I'll be sticking with Bolt Action for the moment, at least for this particular project.
These include a Forward Observer team, a 57mm anti-tank gun and three crew, a platoon commander and a couple of extra riflemen to swap into the existing squads in place of a second BAR gunner, which will make them up to the full twelve figures. The extra BAR gunner is available in the 1945 lists and as a reinforcement option for Veteran US infantry squads but otherwise you can only have the one.
I'd really like to paint up a third squad as well but I'm very short of painting time in the run up to Xmas, so these will do for the moment. I am going to dig out the last of the Corgi diecast 1/50 scale Sherman M4A3's though, as I'm going to try a winter camouflage scheme, complete with whitewash camouflage stripes and some suitable weathering, stowage and decals. The model is a little worse for wear, so a coat of paint and some stowage should hide the dodgy bits. Roll on the weekend!
*Thanks to Mike for the photo (his phone is better than my camera!)

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Bolt Action Battle of the Bulge Game


I had a bit of a rubbish day today but this was cheered up by a visit to the club for an excellent skirmish level game of Bolt Action. This used my new snowy terrain cloth and involved an attempt by my regular US infantry platoon with tank support to capture a bridge over a river, opposed by Mike's veteran SS platoon. The scenario was Hold Until Relieved from the rulebook, so we diced for defenders and attackers first, with Mike taking up his positions in a ruined village adjacent to the bridge and my attacking force advancing into cover behind some entrenchments.
This was a really tactical game with both sides trading long range fire in an attempt to neutralise their respective heavy weapons, prior to an assault going in by the Yanks. In he end, the game was a draw with virtually even losses on both sides and neither platoon occupying the objective, although my brave bazooka team almost made it in the last turn. I lost my MMG team very early on but took out Mike's equivalent team mid-game, only to lose my mortar team to counter battery fire. I knocked out Mike's half track to even the score, even though it tried to hide behind a convenient Xmas tree.
I still have to get my head around some of the mechanisms but Bolt Action does work well at this 700 point squad skirmish level. If I re-played the scenario I'd definitely leave at least one of the bazooka teams out, as they're pretty useless without any armour to target. I'd also pack a Forward Observer for off table fire support, as this would have been really useful if only to lay down some smoke to cover my assault. I was glad that I included the Sherman though, as it was a real headache for the defenders as it trundled up the flank blasting away with HE and MMG fire.
A good game!

Voices from the Battle of Trafalgar

We went to our local National Trust stately home on Sunday, which has a really nice second hand book shop full of all sorts of interesting things including a half decent military history section. I found this hard back book therein and have been flicking through it over the last couple of evenings in between marking shedloads of Year 11 exercise books. It's a decent read and there is an effective narrative style to the contents, which makes it very easy to get into and might even inspire me to paint up some 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice ships of the line one of these days

Sunday 22 November 2015

Frosty Terrain

I was supposed to have a go at scratch building some snow themed terrain for the Bolt Action game this weekend but just haven't had the time. Luckily, I remembered that I had a set of Battlefield in a Box bendy plastic river sections and some ponds that I bought years ago, for a Saurian Safari project of all things, but didn't use as they were a bit 'sticky' and needed to be flocked. I ended up dumping them in a box and shoving them in the loft, where they've been hiding away ever since. However, with a quick overspray of Humbrol Gloss White, they actually look pretty good and will be perfect as linear obstacles and terrain features on top of my new Cigar Box Tundra cloth. Result!

Bolt Action 'Battle of the Bulge' 700 Point Patrol

I have a game of Bolt Action set in the Ardennes on Tuesday with an upper limit of 700 points. This is a pretty tight threshold and I've been playing around with the numbers to try to put together a decent, reasonably balanced patrol sized unit, ready to defend or to attack as required by the as yet to be decided scenario. This was harder than I thought....
I wanted to include a tank, as I have plenty of them to choose from and little else in the way of anti-tank capability, so the Sherman M4A3 had to be included. I also wanted a mortar for long range support and an MMG team for supporting fire. At least one bazooka team was also on the shopping list, as I have unpleasant memories of the game before last in which the enemy armour was virtually unstoppable, so I added two just in case.
If you add this lot to the obligatory two regular infantry squads of ten* men plus the platoon commander you are really short of spare points, so I chose to add an NCO to the command team and upgrade both the 2nd Lt and the sergeant to veterans, making them a little more resilient. The total tops out at 699 points, so I've really scraped the barrel to put together what I hope will be fairly flexible, hard hitting but balanced patrol sized force.
(*yes, I know there should be twelve but I ran out of it's an understrength squad!)

Saturday 21 November 2015

Wargames Illustrated Paints

I haven't picked up a brush and painted a figure for ages, in fact I have completely run out of the requisite 0 and 00 brushes, so I was interested to see this painting guide in WH Smiths today. I was sceptical at first, expecting it to be a re-hash of articles from past issues of the magazine, but it's actually pretty good and has some really useful ideas for painting horses, skin tones and base texturing, for example. It's not cheap at £5.95 but, if it gets me back in the zone for painting figures it will be money well spent.

Fistful of Lead Reloaded Kickstarter Update

The Fistful of Lead: Reloaded Kickstarter is now fully funded, which is great news and no surprise given the popularity of the rules and the excellent stretch goals, which are available to add to the basic pledge if you don't want to go all in at the top end. The freebies are also great, from extra scenarios to terrain bits, tokens and even a sheriff's badge for the umpire to wear. I'm a fan of the rules so I'm really pleased that the Kickstarter has been such a success, especially as it will encourage some of the club players to get on board, making a club campaign a real possibility next year. Excellent!

Thursday 19 November 2015

Bolt Action Volksgrenadiers [5]

A couple of years ago I started to gather together some assorted Artizan Designs figures for a Bolt Action Volksgrenadier platoon to use against my late war US infantry. These ended up being stashed away in a box and I moved onto other things. I'm now thinking of making this a small painting project for 2016, especially as I have my nice new snow terrain cloth to use as a backdrop. I have other things to get done before the end of this year but the Volksgrenadiers may well be started in January, with three eight man squads plus a command group as the core of the force, alongside a sustained fire MG42, a mortar and a PaK40. This will make a handy skirmish level unit that can stand alone and be added to with some armour and transport later on.

Cigar Box Battle of the Bulge

The Cigar Box cloth arrived today and, at first, I thought it was just far too arctic, with vast acres of snow and only patches of ground showing through to break up the icescape...more Battle of Hoth that Battle of the Bulge? On second thoughts and after playing around with some figures and tanks on the surface, it's actually not that bad and would work well as a deep snow covered landscape somewhere in the Ardennes. It will also be spot on for the Russian Front, the Russian Civil War and anything deep and crisp and even. All I now need is some terrain to plonk on top!

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Bolt Action Battleground Europe

I've been wanting to dust off my late war US infantry platoon for another game of Bolt Action for ages but somehow this always got put off to a later date. Yesterday we were having a chat about Bolt Action as a skirmish level game with a cap of about 600-700 points, so we decided to set up a game for next week along these lines. I'm hoping my new tundra cloth will have arrived by then, so we can set the scenario in the Ardennes or around the Siegfried Line in the winter of 1944. I've been flicking through the relevant rule books, including the Battleground Europe: D-Day to Germany book, to see if I can find a suitable scenario, so will hopefully have a better idea about how to organise my forces. I'm really looking forward to giving Bolt Action another go after a very long break from my previous game at the club.

Tuesday 17 November 2015


I enjoyed an excellent game of Maurice this evening at the club, playing as the French against Mike's British and using his superb collection of Foundry and First Corps Malburian figures. The game was really close in the end and at several points swung in my favour but, in the end, the perfidious British managed to wear me down and outflank my defenders, forcing them to rout from the field with their tails between their legs. I've only played Maurice once before and thoroughly enjoyed it, so it was great to have another crack at this really interesting period and innovative set of rules. It also looks stunning and I'll have to seriously resist the temptation to scramble into the loft in search of my bargain boxes of plastic Wargames Factory figures!

Monday 16 November 2015

Cigar Box Tundra Mat

I spotted this in the Northstar bargain basement just now, so snapped one up for fifty quid, which is a decent discount from the full price. I have a gaming chum who has several of the Cigar Box mats and they are really good, so this one is a great addition to my assorted pile of bed sheets, shower curtains and end of roll leftovers. I plan to use it for a variety of projects including my 28mm Bolt Action Late War Winter US infantry platoon, 28mm Commando Raiders and 15mm Lion Rampant War of the Roses, for example, so I'm sure it will be good value for money. It also adds a whole range of possible options for future snow terrain based projects in a variety of scales from 10mm, through 15mm and 28mm, so very useful all round!


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