Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Polish Black Brigade EW Tournament After Action Report

We ended up having eight guys for the tournament yesterday, which considering the attendance was looking like four just a couple of weeks ago, that's great. We had four Axis and four Allied, with a fairly eclectic mix of armies, so it was a lot of fun. In terms of the list I was finally able to field, it was a variant on the "gun-brella" theme using the Pułk Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej list from Blitzkrieg - page 26. I focused on reasonable-sized infantry companies with tons of anti-tank guns and some heavier guns, though I did include some mobile assets. Of course, as it turns out, I barely saw an armored vehicle all day as everyone tended to bring infantry or cavalry lists!

My first game was Cauldron against a very nice Bersaglieri force from Hellfire and Back. As my Black Brigade is a Mechanized Company, I was the attacker. The Bersaglieri had something like 12 platoons if memory serves, so he was able to start with a fair amount on the table, including heavy machine guns, M13/40 tanks, mortars, coastal guns, and demolishers. I started with my two Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej Companies, one unit of anti-tank guns, and the 75mm guns on the table. My random deployment was fairly fortunate, though I was forced to put my 75mm guns at the back of the table near the defender's reserve zone. One infantry company was pretty tightly pinned down by machine guns in buildings near the left objective, so I stayed dug in and fired pot shots at them to whittle them down. The right objective was only covered by the demolishers, so I decided to focus my attack there with my larger infantry company supported by one heavy machine gun. They were able to secure the objective by the second turn with help from the Vickers tanks which arrived from reserve, but I lost over half of the company - fortunately with the help of the 1iC they were able to pass motivation. A Bersaglieri platoon arrived behind my 75mm guns, but shot poorly and were unable to assault - on the next turn my TKS platoon arrived from reserve and cut down the luckless Bersaglieri platoon - I was able to destroy enough platoons to force a company morale check, which the Italians failed giving the Poles a 6-1 victory.

The second game was Surrounded against a Japanese Kihei Chutai force from Rising Sun. As we were both Mechanized Companies, we diced off to see who was the defender and I ended up defending. So yeah, lots of infantry - not a hard target to be found. I tried to balance my force as much as possible around the two objectives (top and bottom), but the top one ended up a bit more lightly defended. I'd kept the Vickers tanks in Immediate Ambush, so when the Japanese overloaded the top objective, I had to drop the tanks to the top of the board. We played using the "Hell by Day, Paradise by Night" rules, though I think that should have been restricted to an infantry or tank company, but I didn't think it was worth hitting the books for. In the end I think it probably hurt the attacker more than me because he couldn't fire any of his heavy guns as they didn't have line of sight to my force. He worked to get into close contact as quickly as possible, even moving some guns and the infantry support at the double. Unfortunately I was able to get my Vickers, TKS platoon, and enough guns and infantry close enough to the large infantry platoon to decimate it, though the resulting assault with the Vickers did result in the loss of two tanks. He shifted his axis of attack to go after my infantry, but as I was unpinned at that point, I had enough firepower to repel the assaults. That left his force fairly decimated, and my mobile assets were able to track down the cavalry and one of the gun teams. His remaining gun team called upon its Seishin and came after my 75mm guns, ultimately destroying two, but with well over half of the unit remaining he wasn't able to secure a victory point giving the Poles a 6-1 victory.

My final game was Free-for All against a Luftlandesturmkompanie from Burning Empires. I've always wanted to play against this army, so I was excited to actually see one at the tournament. I was technically the "attacker" in this mission - and as we put down platoons, he decided he was going to do a glider assault. I therefore worked to cover as much territory as I could in a fairly dispersed deployment to ensure I could react well to wherever his gliders ended up. He ended up concentrating his gliders near the right-hand objective with only one crashing (killing both teams inside). So now we have FV Luftlandesturm among FV Polish Black brigade. The irresistible force has met the immovable object. Again, this game was going to come down to pretty much one round of firing and assault. My opponent's shooting rolls were not very good, and my saving rolls ended up being good - I ended up losing one 37mm gun and a couple of stands of infantry. When the assaults came, I therefore still had enough volume of fire (even counting as pinned down) to repel both assaults - just barely! Now the luckless Luftlandesturm were out in the open, out-numbered among the poles who quickly dispatched the two platoons and the HQ company. Still at half strength, and with mortars and anti-tank guns on the opposite side of the table, I had to get my mobile assets going. Did I mention he also had Stuka air support? I started moving the Vickers tanks and loaded up the halftracks with one infantry company (yes, I actually got to use some of my transport!!!) and started heading for the open left objective. His rolls with aircraft were nothing short of terrible, and only managed to kill a few infantry stands. I managed to get my tanks and one infantry company on the objective and close enough to his mortars to kill a few and make them take a morale test, which amazingly they failed - forcing a company morale check, which was failed because of a lack of HQ. Even if that hadn't failed, I'd secured the objective, and all he had left were a couple of 37mm anti tank guns on the opposite side of the table. Poles win 6-1, though honestly if my opponents die rolls had been better I would have likely lost at least one or two platoons. I've always thought that the Luftlandesturmkompanie was a bit pricey for what you got, and honestly this game just reinforced that opinion. I believe it would work better in a defensive battle where the defender has limited assets on the table. That way the glider infantry can concentrate their assault in one area and the defender will likely have few assets to counter them. In a fair fight where the enemy has large platoons covering all angles, there is just too much on the table and too many fields of fire to cut up the assaulting troops.

So in the end it was an absolutely great day for the Poles. The Invincible Black Brigade lived up to its name, and I ended up taking home Best Allied General and Best Painted for the force. As I mentioned before, the tournament itself was great because the lists present all pretty much represented "the road less traveled." The Allies had a British LRDG, a French Escadron de Combat, a French Compagnie de Combat, and the Polish Pułk Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej. The Axis forces consisted of a German SS-Infanteriekompanie, German Luftlandesturmkompanie, Japanese Kihei Chutai, and the Italian Bersaglieri. Lots and lots of infantry, very few tanks and vehicles - and ironically the Poles had the most vehicles on the table (and I think I was the only one with 10 tanks as well). Kudos to the tournament organizer and everyone who came out and played - it seems like everyone had a great time, and I believe we represented the hobby well!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Polish Black Brigade - Done for the Tournament

I finally finished up most of the basing about midnight last night, but they are "done enough" for the tournament today. I still need to do some detailing on the windows of the soft skin vehicles, but I won't have time for that until sometime next week. It isn't a critical detail since I already blacked out the windows on the soft skins. I had an "oh crap" moment (yeah, I didn't say "crap") on Thursday night when I realized that I needed four infantry stands per section, not three. Fortunately I'd painted up several extra figures just in case I needed them and based them in record time. Okay - enough with the preamble, I managed to snap a couple of quick pictures. They're not great, but I'll get good pictures once I have time to go through and really photograph them in the light box.

First the infantry and guns:

On the top left you have the 1iC, 2iC, and command stands for the two Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej Companies. The two columns along the left side of the board are the Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej Company Rifle/MG teams. Along the top of the board are the four 75mm wz. 1897 guns from the Light Gun Battery. Just below them toward the center of the board are the Light Gun Battery Staff Team, Command Rifle Team, Observer, and below that is their horse-drawn wagon. Below the rest of the guns are the horse-drawn carts for the guns. Below the carts along the right side center are the three Zmotoryzowanej Anti-Tank Gun Platoons. Below them along the bottom are the Anti-tank Rifle Teams for the Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej Companies. Finally along the bottom in the middle is the one Ckm wz. 30 HMG for the first Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej Company and the motorcycle and side car for the 2iC.

Now the vehicles:

At this point I have them separated by platoon (to make sure I didn't have another "oh crap" moment). At top left is the 1iC command Polski Fiat 508 staff car. Along the the top of the board are the transports for the Zmotoryzowanej Anti-Tank Gun Platoons consisting of one scratch-built Polski Fiat 518 truck (for the HQ) and three scratch-built Pz. Inz. 302 tow vehicles. The scratch-built/converted Vickers tanks run along the right side of the board, while the out of the box TKS platoon is just to the left of them. On the left side of the board is transport for the first Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej Company - one staff car one 518 field car and four Polski Fiat 621 trucks. Finally to the right of those are the scratch built WZ-34 halftracks for the other two Kawalerii Zmotoryzowanej Company.

I am insanely happy to have this project finally ready to leave the house. Ever since it didn't get completed this time last year, it's been an albatross hanging around my neck. I think know my wife will be happy to see it off of my table too! More detail later!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Polish Black Brigade Quick Update

With my tournament coming up this Saturday, I've been madly trying to finish up the Polish Black Brigade. As always, it's going along slowly, but I think I'm getting there. It will be at the tournament one way or another - I've honestly just put too much into this to not take it.

The infantry / guns are in their final phases - I'm putting down static grass on most of them now. I have a little bit of touch up painting to do as I go along, but that's it on most of the non-mechanized core of the force. Unfortunately my first pass at static grass was a bit "too green" and looked spring rather than autumn, so I stopped after a few bases and am now going back with a "drier" looking grass. I used a mix of Ammo of MIG mud and pastels for the "dirt" - and while it looks good, it's a pain in the butt to do, so I'm back to the drawing board for dirt effects for the next army.

The vehicles are mostly done at this point - all of them have the pin washes completed and most of the highlight work done (at least the first level stuff). I haven't gone in and done any of the advanced highlighting, and honestly that may have to wait until after the tournament as I have two nights left at this point. I need to go back and hit a couple of details like headlights, taillights, and spruce up the windows on the enclosed vehicles. I also need to finish detailing about four final crew members.

I apologize for the dearth of pictures this time around - honestly, I just haven't had time to take any! After the tournament, I will provide a full (and I mean FULL) modeling and painting guide to the army. Watch this space!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Early Reviews for Flames of War Pacific

As a World War II game, Flames of War has had one glaring omission since its inception – it was focused entirely on the European Theater of Operations. This trend is not uncommon in wargames in general, as the European Conflict tends to get more press and have greater awareness in much of the World. However, after forays into the Viet Nam War, the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War, World War I, and even a hypothetical World War III between NATO and the Warsaw Pact in the mid-1980’s, Flames of War is finally entering the Asia-Pacific Theater of Operations. John-Paul gave us a bit of a preview in his update at the first of the year, but that only basically released the names of the two books – Gung Ho for the U.S. Marines and Banzai for the Japanese – with little in the way of details. However, now a couple of the leading wargaming blogs have received and reviewed advanced copies of the first of the two books – Gung Ho.

The guys over at Behind Enemy Lines released their review which provides some more of the juicy details about the book itself. Breakthrough Assault also has a review up of book which covers a lot of the same territory as the Behind Enemy Lines review. At this point you have the option of taking rifle and tank companies, though if you’re using Pacific War points an M4A2 Sherman runs about 500 points! Late War point values are provided as well to make the lists “portable” to play against ETO Flames of War armies. Naval gunfire support has been revised for PTO, and it is now limited to the smaller template – so no more “pizza box” in the words of the guys over at Breakthrough Assault. Some other interesting options are “War Dogs” which prevent ambushing within 10 inches, canister rounds for the 37mm guns, and Corsairs with napalm. BEL mentions flame tanks and Seabees as well.

Both sites were very impressed with their copies of the books and saw it as a solid entry into the Pacific for Flames of War. I proofread an early copy of the book, and it sounds like a lot of the best bits made it through into the final product. I’m now anxiously awaiting a review of the Banzai book, as I’ve always wanted to do a Japanese Pacific Theater Army for Flames of War – honestly it’s probably what’s going onto my painting table once the Black Brigade vacates the space!

Edit – ask and ye shall receive! Behind Enemy Lines now has their review of Banzai, the Japanese forces in the Pacific. They note that while there are similarities in the companies between Banzai and Rising Sun, there are enough differences to give Banzai a much more “Pacific feel.” They go into some detail on the various lists, and also include some photos of the Type 2 Ka Mi amphibious tanks as well as some photos of the Type I Ho-Ni I tank destroyer armed with a 75mm gun (see below).

I really can’t wait to get my hands on the Banzai book as the lists and models appear to be awesome. I also wrote a lot of the history and flavor text for the book, so hopefully everyone enjoys those parts of the book as well!

Early War Tournment Pushed out a Week! Now February 27!

Wanted to give everyone the heads up, the Early War Tournament in Portland, OR at Guardian Games has been pushed out a week because of some scheduling conflicts on the 20th.  It will now be held on Saturday February 27, 2016 with check in at 10:15AM.  

Just a reminder, the Polish Black Brigade WILL be there (even if it kills me - which it might). Be among the first to face off against my most ambitious modeling project ever! Hope to see you there!!!