Sunday, March 23, 2014

A day long remembered...

Had a fantastic time at the club this week. We played Fantasy Flight's Star Wars: X-Wing Fighter, with generous assistance from member Stephen71, who kindly donated all the ships, tokens &c. needed for a group of 5 to field several ships each. The game's fairly simple to pick up and provides a lot of entertainment for the money. All that, plus pre-painted minis (always a bonus for those under time constraints) and, well, the unbridled joy manoeuvring TIE fighters or X-wings around the board, makes for one very enjoyable evening.

Firemonkeyboy has banged together a fine post concerning the game, its rules and his wing of TIE fighters; so I'll stick to describing some of the fun I had commanding the rest of the Empire's space craft.

I fielded 5 ships: two TIE fighters, nothing special; two TIE Interceptors, extra speedy and shooty; and one TIE Advanced x1, piloted by the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Vader!

On the prowl for rebel scum...

The way the board was set up, I would be squaring off against a pair of B-wings, which meant that the Rebel pilots would be out numbered 2 to 1. Then again, the B-wings are heavily shielded and carry a serious payload in comparison to TIE fighters.

The B-wings course correct to intercept the Imperials
and lock S-foils in attack position.

I flew Vader off to add a little more fire power to Firemonkeyboy's squadron, he was facing off against two separate waves of Rebel Alliance fighters. One of these ships was piloted by some young upstart from Tatooine, name of Skywalker. So, y'know, pitting Luke against Vader was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Lord Vader heads off for a family reunion.

Despite the relative simplicity of the game's mechanics, it allows for decent tactical play while making sure that one false move on a player's part won't cost them the match. As my pilots (Vader excluded) would be facing superior firepower but less manoeuvrable ships, I decided to bait the B-wings with my TIEs while flanking them with my TIE Interceptors.

The Interceptors whiz past the B-wings as the Rebels target lock the TIE fighters.

Formations flying is made quite easy by utilizing similar banks & turns with different distances covered by individual flyers. In no time my Interceptors were closing in on the B-wings from behind.

Back door...good idea!

On the other side of the battlefield, Vader and Firemonkeyboy's TIEs made quick work of that hotshot Skywalker, who found himself outnumbered and outgunned. Poor Biggs went down a short while later.

Run, Luke, Run!!!

By the time the B-wings realized that they'd need to change tactics, the TIEs were swarming all over them. With some crafty piloting, my Imperial fly boys were able to keep out of the B-wings' LoF and began taking potshots at the heavily shielded Rebel craft.

TIEs weave in and around the banking B-wings.

After several rounds of firing at the heavily shielded B-wings, the TIEs managed to down one and began to concentrate on the remaining Rebel pilot.

And then there was one.

It seems the Force wasn't with the Alliance on this occasion because the B-wing pilot just couldn't keep the TIEs in his sight, and while he was busy trying to get a lock on them, Vader returned to his wing men and sealed the lone B-wing's fate.

There would be no escape for the B-wing this time!

Elsewhere on the board, Firemonkeyboy's TIE's had taken care of the remaining X-wing fighter and an ion cannon sporting Y-wing that joined the fight a little late. And as the Rebel battle plan collapsed, Vader rolled all hits on his damage dice, space-dusting the B-wing and bringing an end to both the game and any lingering doubt as to his continued status as the chosen one.

The Die is strong with this one!

Needless to say, there's a bunch of us looking forward to the next session of Star Wars: X-Wing at the club. And rightly so, where else can you hum refrains from John Williams while sitting across from someone doing the very same thing.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Not too far a Bridge

It's been a while since my last post, but things get hectic and 'one thing drives out another' as a wise barkeep once mentioned. That said, I finally got back to the THMG this week and broke out my Germans for a little bit of Bolt Action...action. A new member, Stephen71, was happy enough to provide some Russians for the table and we settled on an early war engagement. Some people would say this just means cruddy tanks compared to later theatres, but let me tell you, when you can't field Panzerfäuste or Panzerschreck-teams, a light tank is a more than scary prospect!

Set up & Turn One

The scenario was 'Hold until Relieved' and the Germans were defending the objective, in this case the sole bridge, the only one for kilometres around, over a nameless Russian. The Germans were using it to keep supply lines flowing, Ivan was aiming to put a stop to that.

A River Runs Through it.

In this scenario, the defender sets up one infantry unit and one other unit (though nothing heavier than a 7+ save). Then the attacker gets to place any to all of his infantry on the board, no closer than 18" to the objective. The idea being that the defender will need time to call in reinforcements, but will get the advantage of seeing where they'll be needed most.

Accordingly the Germans set up a squad of infantry in the riverside storehouse and a medium howitzer (a favourite of mine) in a close by apple orchard, covering the approach to the bridge.

Waiting for Ivan.

Russian command decided to start all troops on the far side of the river, which meant that they wouldn't be able to flank the German units quickly but also wouldn't be counter-flanked by the soon-to-arrive German reinforcements.

The Red Tide.

After an initial miss by the German howitzer, the Russians had a run of dice and decided to concentrate on knocking out that artillery. They dropped a perfectly aimed mortar on it while their MG team and advancing infantry peppered it with bullets. The Ivans also brought on their BA-10 in an attempt to take out the German big gun (thankfully, their T-34 failed it's morale check, so I didn't have to deal with the Russians' heavy armour this turn). All that only managed to down one German Artillery man (all praise to the gun shield!), but it did cause several pins, effectively crippling the howitzer in the coming turns.

Here they come!
The Ruskies form a second line further back.

According to the rules of the scenario, the defenders are allowed to bring on reinforcements during the first turn w/o rolling for morale. Since the Russians were all on the far side of the river, the Germans didn't need to spend too much time worrying about where best to deploy their oncoming troops. Instead, MG and infantry squad hustled forward into cover where possible; the German armour (a Panzer 38t and an Sdkfz 231 armoured car) drove onto the board, one on each flank.

An Sdkfz rolls up the German right, firing on that crack-shot Russian mortar
team before lands another round of the beleaguered howitzer 

Turn Two

Turn two saw the action really start to heat up, which is different from my usual experience in Bolt Action, where the cat & mouse manoeuvring usually lasts into turns 3 to 4. The Germans stationed near the bridge moved into a better firing position and tore into the advancing Russian infantry while MG squads laid down fire elsewhere. The Panzer 38t hit the Russian BA-10, sparking a fire that nixed the armoured car's ability to act this turn. The German howitzer tried, but failed to rally as the crew spend the round recovering.

Die Jungs give Ivan cause for pause on the Russian's right flank.

On the Russian side, the mortar team decided to retreat behind cover rather than drop another round on the howitzer, which was certainly a relief for me. Then again, the T-34 made its appearance, firing on the Sdkfz 231, which wisely reversed into cover rather than face the it.

The Russian second line began to move through the wheat fields at the Russian rear, perhaps not the greatest tactical move as this would make it hard for them to reinforce their comrades under fire in a timely manner. Then again, discretion is the better part of valour. The foremost Russian infantry squad followed suit and withdrew to the safety of stone wall they'd left a turn earlier.

The Russians counter by threatening the German right flank.

Turn Three

A solid round for the defenders. The Panzer 38t immobilized the Russian BA-10 and added to its pins, and in a stroke of incredible Glück, the Sdkfz's Lt. Auto-cannon managed to penetrate the T-34's side armour, igniting a fire that would cost the tank its turn! The MG 42s did what they do best, adding pins to Ivan's infantry and taking out the Russian MG to boot. Meanwhile the howitzer rallied with a roll of six, removing all pins -the big boom was back in the game!

Panzer 38t >...


 The Russians put the hurt on the German infantry at the river, almost forcing them to make a moral check, but the BA-10 couldn't follow up as its pins (now a whopping 5) meant that it failed to activate. Nor was any help coming from the Russian second line, which continued to slog its way through the wheat fields.

 Maybe they're just hungry?

Turn Four

With a roar the German howitzer announced its reentry into the battle, it slammed a round into the front of the T-34 and knocked it out, effectively neutralizing any threat from the Russian left. The Panzer 38t rolled over the bridge and destroyed the BA-10, ending the chance of further contribution from Russian armour. This left the road open for German infantry, which began to move forward and lay down fire on the only Russian target available, the infantry squad behind the stone wall, which was picking up pins at an alarming rate. The Russian commissar did join their ranks in an attempt to rally them, but to no avail. The remaining Russians were still busy munching wheat.

The German advance across the bridge.

Turn Five

With their numbers dwindling and moral cracking, there wasn't much action from the Russians this turn. The errant infantry squad did finally emerge from their wheaty wanderings, but could do little else to help the remnants of the other infantry squad, who failed to rally despite the commissar's best efforts to the contrary.

Better late than never!

Under orders from their C.O., the German force moved forward and the 38t rolled up on the Russian infantry and let loose with its MGs. The howitzer re-positioned and readied for next turn. German infantry advanced into the cover of the BA-10's wreckage, making way for the Sdkfz 321, which was speeding towards the Russians.

Point Blank Tank!!

Turn Six & Endgame

The German armour continued to roll forward, engaging the Russian infantry whose gamble on a circuitous route hadn't paid off. With units either heavily pinned or routing, the Russian commander sounded the retreat and Ivan fled, leaving the bridge firmly in the hands of the German invaders.

The Russians learn that late isn't always better than never.

A gut day for the Huns.

So, another comfortable victory for the Germans and, more importantly, a very enjoyable game of Bolt Action. It had been some time since I'd broken out my Jungs, but I'm hoping the next game is much sooner. And, of course, many thanks for Stephen71, whom I hope to see again soon at the club.