Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bolt Action WW2 Reflections

Last Sunday afternoon I played a game of Chain of Command (CoC) with Adam Clark.  Adam is well versed in Chain of Command.  My previous attempts at playing CoC had met with dissatisfying results on my part.  There are of course aspects of CoC that I liked, but overall I had a hard time wanting to play CoC instead of Bolt Action.

The result of Sunday's game didn't change my take on CoC.  Admittedly I'm a beer a pretzels gamer and that is what best describes Bolt Action to me.  Certainly Bolt Action is not without fault, like any rule set, but my group has become adept at making the system work historically for us (based on force organization and scenarios that make sense rather than points and tournament style min-maxing which I think gives many decent rule sets a bad name).

That all being said, I do like certain aspects of CoC.  That got me thinking - so I decided I'd like to try a few house rules.  As with any house rules or modification, my intent isn't to complicate game play or make the games take longer - instead hold true to the simplicity of the core rules.

Anyways ... enough rambling from me ... there are all sorts of things I could discuss here, but at the end of the day all the matters is the rules I'd like to try out.  Clearly these house rules are based on the same rules that exist in CoC.

So, for my next Bolt Action WW2 game I'm going to give them a try.

Bolt Action WW2 House Rules (Draft)

Tactical Advance – After moving a unit using an Advance order (even if crossing terrain), if the unit does not fire, it may immediately go Down.  This represents the unit taking the best advantage of the surrounding terrain for cover.

Section Tactics – When ordering an infantry section with an NCO the player can decide to split the section into two teams provided there is a minimum of 4 models remaining in the section (minimum of 2 figures per team, which includes the NCO who is assign to one or the other).  The section continues to be ordered using a single dice, however each team can execute a separate order (mark separately using an extra off colour dice that is not included in the order dice pool).  Teams must remain within 12” of each other.  If the NCO is eliminated or if the remaining number of models in the section drops below 4, the unit must reform as a “normal” section during its next action that involves movement (moving as far as possible to regain normal unit coherency).

LMG ROF – Magazine-fed LMGs increase their ROF from 3 dice to 4 dice.  Belt-fed LMGs increase their ROF from 3 dice to 5 dice.

MMG ROF – All MMGs increase their ROF from 4 dice to 6 dice.

Firing Mortars – If a mortar has LOS to the target (or target point) the initial to-hit value is 5 instead of 6.

Force Morale – Each side in a battle has a starting force morale equal to their morale rating based on their troop quality (for the total force, per the normal rules for Bolt Action army building).  For each platoon fielded beyond the first (the second, third and so on), roll 1D3 and add that result to the total force morale.  Each time a unit is eliminated from the game that sides force morale drops.  When one sides force morale reaches 0 the game ends immediately.  Force morale drops based on the unit eliminated:
Each vehicle drops force morale by 3.
Each team (or single model) drops force morale by 2.
Each infantry section drops force morale by 4.

This should be interesting.  Given that all of our Bolt Action games are limited by a specific number of turns, the force morale may be unnecessary --- but, I've also seen desperate (and unrealistically aggressive) moves made in later game turns that are purely based on trying to win within a certain time span (turns).  By adding force morale hopefully that will provide a secondary strategic consideration for how aggressive (or not) a particular side will be when attempting to take an objective or similar.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

DundraCon 2016 Convention Report

Long post here with lots of pictures.  I've returned from DundraCon 2016 which was a great weekend of miniature gaming.  Really, I must say this may have been the most fun I've had at a convention - certainly it is the most miniatures games I've run and played in for a weekend convention (Friday through Sunday evening).  Joining me for the weekend was Roy Scaife, Dan Kerrick, John Lantz and Matt Hilzendrager.  We all headed up and arrived in the early afternoon on Friday and got right to playing miniature games.  Here are the games we ran and played in throughout the weekend:

  • Bolt Action World War 2 - Outskirts Of Caen
  • Hell Or High Water - French Foreign Legion In Africa
  • Bolt Action Modern - Downtown Iraq (Iraq)
  • Bolt Action Modern - Advance On An Nasiriyah (Iraq)
  • Bolt Action Modern - Bad Day At The Bazaar (Afghanistan)
  • Sharpe's Practice - French and British Engagement
  • Aliens Vs. Predator (miniatures boardgame)

This convention was the culmination of our modern investment hence the few games we ran for that period.  I also got to pull out my new stuff for World War 2 - my new town setup from Crescent Root Studio.  I also got to play a new miniatures board game - AvP (Aliens vs. Predator) which was a lot of fun - I've always had a soft spot for Aliens movie themed games - love anything LV426.  We played a lot and got a bunch of fun little board games (like Bang! the dice game) in between miniature games.  Anyways, on to the games and pictures ...

Bolt Action Modern - Downtown Iraq

Just a few pictures here as you've all seen this a few times before.  We had full participation for this game.  A mixed force of USMC and British Army pushed into the town to clear it of insurgent activity.  The end result was a coalition victory (12 VPs to 9 VPs) - although the big news in this game was that a Challenger 2 tank was knocked out by the crew bailing out due to a fire (damaged result 3 - then it failed it's morale test).  All that was brought on by a ton of RPG fire into the flanks of the tank.  This is the first game I used civilian models - and at one point after drawing an off colour dice there was an Iraqi civilian that approached a USMC fireteam.  I rolled to see what her intentions were (4-6 was a suicide bomber, 1-3 was just trying to escape the battle area) - keeping the result from the players - I provided a little creative comments on what they could see or not see, and they had to determine was to do.  If they shot a civilian trying to leave the area they would loose 1VP.  They chose wisely and let the civilian clear the area.

Bolt Action Modern - Advance On An Nasiriyah

I didn't get a chance to play test this game but it worked out great anyways.  This was my "open desert" large armoured engagement between Iraqi Army and Republican Guard (with some insurgent support) and USMC.  My Cobra helicopter suffered some rotor damage on route to the convention so I used my Apache for this game to provide gunship support.

This was also the first showing for my desert mat (from Terrain Mat) and the new desert terrain I did (from Architects of War).

I squad of USMC mounted in an Amtrack, a humvee with .50 cal, humvee with TOW and 2 x M1 Abrams moved up a road.  The Republican Guard had 3 x T-72 tanks and 1 x BMP-2 with an infantry squad and leader.  The Iraqi Army had 4 x T-55 tanks and 1 x MTLB with 1 x infantry squad.  The insurgents and a technical with .50 cal and a technical with a recoilless rifle along with 2 x six man cells and 1 x five man cell (with a leader).

This was a tie game - 9VPs to 9VPs - mostly due to some very lucky rolling.  A T-72 managed to get a M1 Abrams in the flank and knocked it out late in the game.  The Apache showed up and started laying down the hurt, but it got close to a T-55 (to pepper infantry in the open) and the T-55 fired it's 12.7mm HMG at the Apache which drove it off initially, but then it crashed.  Those two unit loses occurred near the end of the game and drove the result into a tie - otherwise the Iraqi forces were decimated.  More fun had by all.


Bolt Action Modern - Bad Day At The Bazaar

Saturday morning saw Dan Kerrick running his Afghanistan game.  A local Northern Alliance warlord turned against the coalition and was terrorizing locals.  A force of US Army was sent in to clear a bazaar area, storm a compound and capture or kill the local warlord.

The coalition won this game with 12VPs to 8VPs (as I recall, a bit fuzzy on this one).  Either way, a victory for the coalition forces.  This was the first game for my new shipping containers (lent to Dan).

Hell Or High Water - Bastard Sons Of The Desert (French Foreign Legion)

I loved this game.  Matt Hilzendrager always runs a top notch game.  I was the officer commanding the expedition into the desert to find and drag away treasure.  Of course, the locals didn't like that plan and so tempers flared :-)

This is a "two phase" game - the first has the FFL showing up and storming the ruins to rescue the good archaeologist and his stunning daughter.  Once that is done, the FFL have to defend the ruins while searching for the treasure and then making good their escape.  Of course, some of the other FFL characters in the game have "secret" missions ... for example, one group was to mutiny and try to steal the treasure once it was found and loaded up in the truck.

Lots of fun --- I managed to get away with the treasure and a serious wound (recoverable though).  Of course, my officer took his trusted man with him, the girl and the treasure, leaving everyone else behind to fend for themselves.  Good times!  Captain "Piece De La Marde" maintains his reputation.

Bolt Action World War 2 - Outskirts Of Caen

This was the debut of my new town setup from Crescent Root Studio.  The roads, block plates, edges and buildings all come together nicely - and I added some rubble to the scene for some more visual depth.  This saw a large British armoured force supported by armoured infantry pushing in to the outskirts of Caen to secure to key buildings.  Elements of Heer and Falschirmjager occupied the town - with Panzer III, IV and Tiger I tanks running around.  The Tigers had a hell of a day - couldn't hit the broad side of a barn (bad dice rolling).  Nonetheless, it was still a bloodbath - although the British pulled off a victory at the end of the day by securing the building objectives.  This game was another maximum participation game - everyone had a blast.  I used "group activation" for Bolt Action which meant things moved along at a nice pace.

Aliens Vs. Predator

Ok ... not historical ... but I love the movie Aliens and I had a chance to play the AvP boardgame (which is also a miniatures game).  I have to say that this game was a ton of fun.  I played as the Marines and got my a$$ handed to me --- I was the fodder at the center of the Alien and Predator sandwich.  My smart gun (the machine gun) actually mowed down a Predator (very hard to kill them) - which was my high point ... although the guys head was soon separated from the rest of his body by one of those fancy discs that the Predators throw.

I've ordered a couple of sets and have some short terms plans for this game - but more on that in a few weeks (miniatures gaming side of the system).  Suffice it to say that I'm getting the Battle Systems sci-fi terrain and plan on doing a Hadley's hope type scenario if I can work it all out.

Sharpe's Practice Napoleonic Skirmish

Adam Clark ran a couple of Sharpe's Practice games.  John Lantz from our group got to play (this game was running while I was playing Taliban in the Afghanistan game).  Adam's games are always beautiful to see -- I recommend that you check out his blog: adam-clark.com.  I love the character names (I know they are from the book, but still awesome) --- for example, Capitain Piece De La Marde, Richard Fondler and so on ... funny!

Other Games

There was of course a bunch of other games doing on while I was consumed by the games I was playing in or running.  Admittedly many games where "walk ins" and not necessarily on the schedule - but I will say the miniatures room was busy all weekend.

All in all it was an outstanding convention.  Hector (miniatures coordinator) is a stand up guy - he is super easy to work with and very accommodating and helpful.  The miniatures gaming footprint at DundraCon is certainly growing from a "local convention" perspective and certainly as compared to 2 or 3 years ago.  I'm glad I was pulled back into DundraCon and I'll be continuing to bring miniatures games (scheduled and unscheduled) to the convention for many years to come.

Now for me, next up is KublaCon in May.  Lots of new stuff I'm working on to roll out there.  KublaCon if you are unfamiliar is the largest Bay Area convention and has a large miniatures footprint.  I plan to go "big" this year and jam in as many miniatures games as I can throughout the weekend.