Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Red Bear pt. deux (Battlereport)

Heavy firepower, but not a lot of it.

Whether it is just that time of year (football season in a college town, War Eagle), or waning interest, we haven't played any Flames of War in the shop for a few months. However when the updates to Red Bear came out I got, the arch rival, Robert out for a game of FOW.

He put together a good ole' fashion Soviet tank horde and I just ran my standard Panzergrenadier list from Nuts... poor decision on my part. Things have changed again, and what worked against Soviet lists in the past don't have the same effect.

My list was Confident Veteran Panzergrenadiers with 2 Panzergren platoons, 3 PaK40's, 6 152mm Howtizers, 3 Panzer IV/70 A, 2 Panzer IV/70 V for around 1750pts. Its a list build for tank busting, and it can put out a reasonable amount of high AT shots to take out those pesky 4 or 5 tank platoons.

 Roberts list was a Confident Trained Tankovy with 21 T-34/76's, 10 Stuarts, 5 SU-85's, 4 SU-100's and 6 BA-64's.

Worn and dirty late war grenadiers.

These all should be Soviet 15.2cm KH433(r) , but I'm not going to buy two boxes of Soviet heavy arty to get the guns.
Here is where I show the hallmark of a great after action report, I can't remember the name of the mission we played... I being the defender, place one objective in Roberts deployment and one in mine, he then placed two in mine and removed one after deployment. I had delayed and scattered reserves with an immediate ambush, and Robert had reserves.

2iC holding trying to get the secret paper out of the wrecked Messerschmidt.

Panzers IV/70 A's watching the center.

The big guns hold the right flank.

The spotter gets a bad feeling.

BA-64's on the move.

The ground begins to shake as the horde arrives.

SU-100's in overwatch.

The Pak's come out of immediate ambush to take on the T-34's.

Watching the left flank.
Robert deployed 1 platoon of T-34's, the SU-100's and BA-64's. I put out the 15.2cm artillery, Panzer IV/70 A's and Pak40's. In hindsight this was one of my mistakes, I should have replaced the Pak40's with a grenadier platoon dug in tight on one objective, to hold out for reserves, then I could have focused my AT assets on the Soviet spearhead. But instead I was spread thin all over the board and couldn't deal with very mobile soviet companies.

Rob rolled for reserves the first turn, and here come the Stuarts.

A less than stellar turn of shooting saw only one T-34 burn.

You're going to need to do better than that.
On the first turn Rob moved up and somehow killed three dug in gone to ground 15.2cm guns with 6 shots, that is not good. My return fire from the Panzer IV/70's and two Pak's killed 1 T-34... that's not going to cut it. He also had the stuarts come in from reserve.

The Panzer IV/70's go after the doubling T34's.

The T-34's come around the right flank.

But the pinned 15.2's open up over open sights and kill three.

Far fewer T-34's burn than I would like.
The previous turn I had left one Panzer IV/70 just a 40 inches to one SU-100 it could keep the T-34's in its sights. On turn two Robert gets more reserves and brings on the second T-34 platoon. Everything on the soviet side moves up aggressively. Now back to that Panzer IV/70, Rob takes one shot a six and misses, but with the new Cat Killer rule he re-rolls it and gets a 6, dead Panzer IV/70. I kill a bailed T-34 from last turn.

Turn three and Robert gets his final company from reserve and doubles up the Stuarts and T-34's towards my left objective, knowing that I can't kill both platoons. His T-34's on the right move up to assault the artillery, and the BA-64's move up boldly to shoot up the Pak's. I get no reserves and shift my Panzer IV/70's to the left. He then pins the artillery and Pak's but doesn't kill any guns from either. My shooting kills three T-34's from the new platoon and the pinned artillery manages to kill three T-34's on the right.


There just aren't enough Germans to go around.

Defend the guns to the last!

Burning tanks in from the the artillery positions.
Turn Four and the end is drawing near as no German reserves show up. The T-34's move up on the left, the Stuarts surround the 2iC and objective and the BA-64's run right into the faces of the Panzer IV/70's. On the right the T-34's knock out one 15.2cm gun and pin them in preparation for the assault.
I lose a Pak40 on the right to the T-34's and another to the Stuarts, on 4 MG shots through the back of the woods, one Stuart kill the Pak. The rest of the Stuarts MG the 2iC on the objective and take him out. My shooting is incredibly bad and the Pak's and Panzer IV/70's  only kill 2 T-34's, the Pak's command team kills a BA-64 with his panzerfaust. The assault against the artillery on the left is annihilated by defensive fire, as both 15.2's hit and the CiC hits with his panzerfaust, only the battalion commander and one T-34's survive. The last T-34 on the right runs.

That's all for the left flank.

The Panzer IV/70 V's come on the right.

Those don't all look like Stuarts.

And that's that.
The final turn and I finally get one platoon on from reserve, and with scattered reserves it come on to the far right, and that is that. The Stuarts, T-34's and SU-85's surround and destroy the last two Panzer IV/70 A's on the left and the BA-64's take the last Pak 40 then run over the command team in an assault. My two Panzer IV/70 V's take out his Battalion command on the right, but fail their storm trooper and are wiped out by the Cat Killers, re-rolling misses on the hill.

In summary I just didn't have enough shots to kill all the Soviet tanks, and they maneuvered all around my static units while the SU-100's overwatched. Really bad dice rolls to hit hurt me as did not getting reserves until turn 5 or 6, and my Pak40's never unpinned after the third turn, but none of those thing lost me the game. Robert maneuvered very well and massed for his attack on the right until I just couldn't fight it off no matter how good my shooting could have been. I've been fighting American and British forces for too long and had forgotten how to deal with masses of tanks and heavy tank destroyers. I think its time to get the Hetzers back out...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Battletech Alpha Strike Fail...

Over the last few months I've been working a new job and have had a unprecedented lack of free time. That has seriously hurt my gaming/modeling time, but one thing I have been able to fit in occasionally if a few games of Mechwarrior Online. I'm not a big computer gamer, but running around in a giant mech and blow stuff up in nice 15 minute games is a lot of fun. That has led me to pull out my old Battletech miniatures and clean them up, even though I've never played a game of classic Battletech.

Catalyst Games Lab has recently released, Alpha Strike, a quicker play version of Battletech, which I picked up. Over the last few weeks I'd talked up the game and got some interested players to come in this weekend to try it out, I was really hoping to get them into the game. I set up a two Inner Sphere lances and some infantry for myself, and Byran and Daniel set up a Clan force to take me on, it was the first game for all of us.

With Alpha Strike you can choose to upgrade or downgrade your mechs' pilot for more or less points. I chose to upgrade two of my pilots to elite from regular, Bryan and Daniel upgraded almost all of their pilots.

The battlefield.

My list was 150 points (The Gun Dogs, Mercenaries) with;
1 Black Knight (Elite)
1 Orion (Elite)
1 Warhammer
1 Thunderbolt
1 Hatchetman
1 Wolverine
2 Wolfhounds
3 stands of Gray Death Standard Infantry

Most of my Mech's were the better 3067 versions, but are still old Inner Sphere mechs.

Bryan and Daniels 150 point list was;
1 Masakari (Elite)
1 Mad Cat (Elite)
1 Vulture (Veteran)
1 Catapult (Veteran)
1 Jagermech
1 Hunchback

The clan mechs are much better than any one of my mechs and have better pilots, but that made them very pricey. Their bondsmen and their inner sphere mechs were there to support.

The Gun Dog's Black Knight and Warhammer on the right flank.

The Hatchetman, Orion, Wolverine and some Gray Death suits in the center.

The Wolfhounds and Gray Death suits on the left flank.

The Masakari, Vulture and Jagermech watching the left flank.

The Clanners Mad Cat, Hunchback and Catapult on the right.

The first turn saw me win initiative for the first time, I would win initiative every turn of the game. In Alpha Strike that meant that the loser of the initiative roll has to move first and then we alternate, I had more mechs so I then had to double up with my last few moves. I move the right flank around to engage the Madcat and it's retinue and my center mechs up behind buildings for cover, the Wolfhounds rushed out to take on the Jagermech who moved around the far left building.

While players alternate moving, shooting is done all at once, the player who lost initiative fires all of their mechs first then the player who won initiative. No effects are applied or mechs are destroyed until the end phase, so everyone who can will shoot, whether you go first or second.

Things began to look bad for the Clan forces early on, all of the clan mechs missed their shots, even with superior pilots, only the Catapult hit, causing two damage to the Black Knights armor with indirect fire. The Black Knight and Warhammer both hit the Hunchback and the Black Knight decided to overheat its shots, this killed the Hunchback outright. Units with energy weapons can choose, before firing to overheat their weapons to cause more damage, but the unit takes heat, which effects movement and shooting in later turns. Then on the left flank, both Wolfhounds managed to hit the Jagermach and take out its armor and hit its structure, leading to a critical hit roll, of snake eyes this meant the Jagermech had a catastrophic ammunition explosion and was destroyed.

The Jagermech missed its shots at the Wolfhounds and was destroyed.

The Thunderbolt missed the Madcat.

But the Black Knight and Warhammer didn't miss the Hunchback.

The Mercs move to get some cover as the Mad Cat approaches.
The second turn I won initiative again. The Clan forces pushed up to engage my heavy right flank and I pushed my right flank towards the center and moved my forces in the center out to engage the Masakari and Vulture.

In shooting the Madcat and Catapult both hit the Thunderbolt and striped its armor and knocked out its targeting computer, making it more difficult to fire. The Masakari and Vulture both fired on the advancing center mechs and destroyed the Hatchetman. My forces on the right combined all fire on the Madcat and, deciding to overheat, were able to destroy the dangerous clan omnimech. This however left the Black Knight and Warhmmer with two heat each, meaning they needed to cool down next turn to be effective. The firepower of the Orion, Wolverine, Hatchetman (who could attack before ejecting his stricken mech), and the two wolfhounds destroyed the Vulture as well. One of the Gray Death infantry stands even hit the Vulture, doing its one damage.

The Thunderbolt KO'ed the Madcat, after taking horrible damage itself.

The Masakari gutted the Hatchetman, before it could close with its Hatchet.

The clan is in a bad way.

Turn three and I won initiative again. The Masakari moved back and the Catapult moved to support it. My forces all rushed the last enemy mechs, risking the terrible damage the Masakari can do at close range in order to kill the beast. The Thunderbolt jumped into the  center building to hide and stay alive.

Shooting saw the Masakari and Catapult miss. My Black Knight and Warhammer didn't fire in order to lose a point of heat. The rest of my force pummeled the Masakari and took off all its armor and destroyed a leg, but left it still standing with one last structure point.

The Gun Dogs move in for the kill.

The two mechs with heat hold fire to cool down.

The fourth turn, and I won initiative for the final time. The Masakari and Catapult stayed put for their last stand. My forces closed in. In one final act of defiance the Masakari destroyed one of my Wolfhounds (Ears) but the catapult missed. I then had the last Wolfhound avenge his fallen partner and destroy the Masakari and the Orion destroyed the Catapult... game over.

Ears takes a hit but is soon avenged.

The net is closed, no clanner escaped.

The little catapult takes a volley from the elite Orion and is wrecked.

This is where I need to tell you why I call this game a fail. I was trying to get new players into this game, I have never been part of a more one sided game. It was all the dice and not balance issues, taking a very few expensive elite mechs verses a more numerous foe was tough on Bryan and Daniel, but it doesn't change the fact that they just couldn't hit. With their superior pilots and better weapons, the Clanners need an average of 7 to hit my mechs, they rolled an underwhelming average of a 5 on 2D6. I needed around an 8 average to hit them back and almost always rolled over a 9 on 2D6. Out of 4 rolls for initative I rolled boxcars once and 11 every other time on 2D6.

Halfway thorough we traded dice, with no effect, Bryan then got a new set out and proceed to roll snake eyes and a 3 on 2D6 to hit with them. Needless to say he and Daniel were a little frustrated, not what I wanted for our first game.

But on a positive note I really enjoyed the game and think Battletech Alpha Strike can be a very fun game.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Magach 3's (FOW)

In this post I will show off my new Magach 3 tanks, four of them to be exact. This may not seem odd since they are a great unit for FOW Arab Israeli War games. But with a little context you will understand why they are simply a physical representation of my lack of willpower when it comes to resisting cool miniatures.

I have always been a big fan of the compromise tank in Flames of War, my great love for the Jagdpanzer IV/70 over the Panther represents that well. Therefore when I started working on my Arab Israeli lists for the Six Day War I immediately gravitated towards the Israeli M51 Shermans. Centurions and Pattons, blah, give me 1940's technology with a big gun and nerves of steel! While working on balancing out points and rules for the lists, I bought three M48 Pattons just to have them to test out, I thought I'd never need any more than that...

Fast forward to Battlefront releasing Fate of a Nation and all the great miniatures that come with it. I pre-ordered four boxes of Israeli M51 Shermans, even though I should be saving my money. Well, they didn't arrive until weeks after they were supposed to, but do you know what was on the shelf? Two boxes of the new Israeli Magach tanks, which I wasn't planning on buying. But day in and day out they called to me... and now I am the owner of seven M48 Pattons when I never intended to have any. I want this to be a cautionary tale to the unwary, be on guard against the temptation of new resin.

These guys certainly live up to their name, Battering Ram.

Okay, on the the Magach 3's. These are just the Vietnam tanks with the addition of the 105mm Barrel and some Israeli (WWII US) Tank commanders.When I bought them I had grand plans of magnetizing the barrels so I could swap out the 90mm and 105mm but that proved more difficult than I would have liked, so they all have the 105's.

I refer to these guys as Big Nasties, they just look big and tough especially compared to the lighter Shermans and in any game the take the brunt of the fire, and punch back hard. So in other words they are growing on me.
Still waiting on Israeli Decals...

With the British L7 105mm gun, few tanks stand a chance.

Those two cars seem to be everywhere in the Sinai.

Tanking on some Khurasan T-55's.

I modded my tankers again.