tiistai 15. elokuuta 2017

Bolt Action - Kuuterselkä,Thinking over a gaming table

After some twenty odd, almost thirty, years of war gaming, I have have painted miniatures more than enough. Recent years I have reached very good level of painting and I think that's the level I even don't want to improve much, even if I could. having reached this level of painting already some years ago, I'm able to paint quite a lot of miniatures for my hobby according the need. So I should be happy.

Some years ago I noticed sticking miss match of nicely painted miniatures and, frankly poor gaming tables we used to use. Our tables weren't the level of our miniatures and and especially not on the level I've seen in other clubs abroad. So more I was looking that more annoyed I became. There was something essential missing in this beloved hobby. Then after visiting Hamburger Tactica some years ago, decision was made. Next years should concentrate on making gaming tables up to a standard of our miniatures. And thus long term - strategic - objective was set, to make nice looking gaming tables in our gaming club with some like minded club mates. After all the hobby for me is about visual matters. About nice and well painted miniatures and lovely gaming tables, much more than just a game.

Previously I have published a story of making gaming table based on real scene of Continuation War battle Portinhoikka. This is now second table of the Continuation War series. Like the previous, this is also located in Karelian isthmus, place called Kuuerselkä. A place where Soviet attack on summer 1944 met strong resistance by Finnish jägers and assault guns. It was also a place where Finnish Stug assault guns saw their first action against Soviet armor.

This is a pictorical run down, how the table was put together with my club fellow, and put into good use in this years Ropecon gaming event.
Work starting, cutting, digging and planning.
Basic features attached and over all plan forming up.

Crass mats attached and painting on the way.
Table almost done, now some detailing...

Aerial view of the table.
Placing additional scenery.
Houses in the middle.
Detail of dried pond.
Detail of rock and flowers.
Center of the table with creek and little pond.
And then the table was put into a use to promote our gaming club and Bolt Action game in Ropecon gaming event 2017 in Helsinki.
Player brief of the game.
Some promo material of the game and the battle in question.
Finnish counter attack on the way.
Player pondering tactical moves.
Over all view of the dressed  up table.
Hard thinking over a tactics on both sides.
Once again great project with very pleasing results. This year we had probably nicest looking demo table in whole Con. With it's green field and forests it draw a lot of attention. And after that we were able to add beautiful new table in our clubs use. This was arguably the best table we've done so far, but not the last.

keskiviikko 22. maaliskuuta 2017

Pikeman's Lament - Finnish War battles of Pyhäjoki 1808

There has been quite a lot of talking about running a campaign of Finnish War 1808 -09. Quite interesting and eventful period of Finnish war history. Finland, or more precisely, eastern part of Swedish kingdom was a scene of one sideshows of Napoleonic wars. Related to peace treaty between Napoleonic France and Russia, Swedish part of Finland was attacked by Russian troops in order occupy it's territories and end Swedish rule in the area.  Swedes and Finns naturally resisted as much as they could resulting what we now know as the Finnish War. The war went from early 1808 until 1809, and there was quite many battles and skirmishes finally which give good base for campaigning the war. Despite heroic efforts of Finns and Swedes, more professional, bigger and better equipped Russian army won and annexed area of Finland into Russian empire.

Now roughly five Club members have started campaign aiming to go through the battles of this war, not all but fair amount of them. After some consideration I joined the team and took a role of Russian commander, since most player would like to play on Finnish side. But some one has be the "bad guy" also in order to have fights, so I'm went in for the Russians. Luckily I have quite good knowledge of Napoleonic Russian army from my previous painting project and our 1812 campaign.  The other good thing of "being a Russian" in this campaign, is there's no need to convert figures, there's some readily available in the market. The poor Fin players have to a lot of kit bashing, filing and sculpting in order to field a force.

So I only changed the scale of miniatures from 15 mm to 28 mm. Here's some first units I produced for this campaign.

The rules we use are fairly new set of rules called Pikeman's Lament from Osprey. It written by Daniel Mersey and Michael Leck. Very easy and straightforward set of rules created from Lion Rampart rules. The rule are quite simple (which I like)  and give good game play as well as smooth flow of action in the tabletop. The rules are set for Pike and shot period, but with some troops adaptation id can be easily used for black powder era too.

First encounter - The Battle of Yppäri April 1808

After enjoying appropriate beverages battle commenced.

When Russian started the attack in February 1808 Swedish - Finnish army decided to withdraw not giving a fight until Eastern time in April. The battle of yppäri was one of the first notable battles where Russian advance force intercepted withdrawing Swedes in Pyhäjoki Yppäri. Swedes decided to fight in order to cover their river crossing. And the fight erupted.

Russian started their assault along the road and the same time Swedes withdrew fighting trying their best to slow Russians. After a while another flanking force of Russian entered the frey and the Swedes were caught between two forces.

Finns are waiting for the Russian attack.
Securing forces at the crossing keep the keen eye around, there's nothing.
Russian line and hussars launch the attack.

Blocking force of Savolax infantry marching to secure the river crossing.

More Russians march on.

Hussars assault the gun, but are chased away.

Finnish jägers move to engage the enemy from the forest.

Stalwart Russian line marches on.

Russian light flanking force entering from the flank.

Light cavalry and jägers working together.

Some jäger action in snowy forest.

Russian win and after a hard fight Finns lose the fight.

Solid and strong Russian line firing salvos.

Flanking action on frozen riverbank.

Cossack advance into blocking position along the road.

Savolax infantry firing for their lives.

And Russian return with more muskets.

Flanking force is gradually closing the door behind withdrawing Finns.

Finns are now caught in crossfire.

Last remains of Finnish infantry trying to escape.

Chased hotly by Russian light cavalry.

Situation is desperate for the Finns.

Surrender you are surrounded.

Out of nowhere comes troops of Finish dragoons to relieve poor comrades.And are charged by the Cossack.

Dragoons are tougher and chase away Cossack.

Russian infantry advances steadily along the road.

The fight is over.
First fight goes clearly to Russians. Almost all Swedish-Finnish troops were killed in the fight and only some stragglers managed to escape by the help of lately arrived Dragoons.

Nice fight and very good test drive for the new rules. I liked the both. Next will be the battle of Viirret.

sunnuntai 12. helmikuuta 2017

Bolt Action - Surrounded

Some Bolt Action after a while. New second edition rulebook brought some new nice rules and straightened some old one's better. But there's also set of new interesting scenarios in the book. And finally we had a chance to test one which looked good after I read it. The scenario Surrounded puts one team in the middle of the table in defense when other is attacker. In that sense quite typical set up. But the difference is very free deployment of attacker and reserves, which can enter what ever table edge they choose. Only limitation is that you can't use same edge right after your opponent. So no wily backstabbing action allowed, which is nice in terms of game play.

And the game itself was once again German Panzergrenadiers attacking in the bombed out village where handful of airborne were defending waiting reinforcements to help them. Mini Bastogne in some sense. So after airborne troopers had found good defensive positions among ruined housed in a village by the river Germans started their attack. At first German recon half track moved along the road, spotted US troops and opened fire with automatic cannon. Right after that squad of panzergrenadiers followed half track and moved swiftly towards now spotted enemy. And when Americans were mostly still hiding Germans continued their push and brought in Panther tank to support the attack.

The Americans wee still quite passive and only waited and let Germans come closer. And that's what they did. Second grenadier squad ran along the road to give support the leading unit and third squad went around church to seek good flanking positions around church corner. And finally arty FO and sniper found good positions on top of the hill. Everything seemed going well for the Germans.

Then the American opened up and poured massive infantry fire on FO who died with his assistants. And after that the flanking German squad was flanked itself by US infantry who popped from unexpected direction. US infantry opened fire and after two turns of firing all but one grenadier were down. Then US armor joined the fight and heavily sand backed Sherman 76 drove in and tried to hit Panther and hit but no penetration.

After that the Germans were in good position to launch concentrated assault in their right flank. The officer ordered two squads move in and open fire on nearest ruins and airborne within. Unfortunately US troops were set up in ambush and got to fire first. Then Germans went squads went in one by one and fired all they had on the airborne, but good hard cover of ruins saved many troopers. So first wave was ineffective. The Panther rolled towards the ruins of village and instead of dueling with Sherman it used machine guns to support advancing grenadiers and quite successfully. Close range fire from Panthers MMG's brought down many brave troopers. Americans tried to fire anther with Sherman and with bazooka but they either missed their mark or couldn't penetrate the quality armor of German tank.

The started the final phase of the fight. German grenadiers move close to airborne on ruins and withered the ruins with their automatic weapons and gradually got foothold in the village. Then there was much close range fire fights going for some turns. Very murderous for both sides. And when the infantry was having it's ruin by ruin fire fight Sherman managed to kill Panther with accurate shot. And after that US troops consolidated into better positions and remaining grenadiers didi the same and the fight was over. After some consideration in ended a draw, maybe slightly in favor of defender.

Ruined village by the river. Only the church was left intact.
Ruined centre of the village.
US airborne digging in.
US truck unloaded.
Squad of grenadiers flanking.
Very cautious Sherman challenging Panther.
Germans squads move in.
Ordered by the officer.
US surprised Germans and killed them outright.
Big cat on prowl.
Sherman waiting for a clear shot.
Panther moving boldly to support infantry attack.
Grenadiers attacking US positions.
US reinforcement moving in.
Densely packed ruins.
Recon half track moving around to find clear shot. 
Some nice dice rolling.
After Panther was knocked out US troops are moving more freely.
Last man standing from German engineers.
Capt. Winters giving orders.
German officer preparing for the last push.
Nice game and really fun scenario to play. With it's free deployment could never know where the enemy might be coming, very chaotic and fun way to play.