Saturday, January 30, 2010

What type of FOW player ar e you?

There is a plethora of threads and topics on forums and blogs which ask this question to start a discussion. All too often people have a natural instinct to categorize and define. It's perfectly reasonable to want to put people, places and things into neat little compartments. Life is a little easier when dining utensils are located in the same drawer. Going another step, it's even nicer to find that the dining utensils in said drawer have been separated into utensil trays. Who wants to fish in a large pile of forks, knives, spoons?

Yet, we're all unique in our own way. We don't all fit into neat little compartments. Our government seems to think we do. Just wait until a 2010 Census form (or person) arrives at your doorstep and you get to the Ethnic section. I bet you'll find 20+ choices to describe your ethnic background.

What? There isn't a box for Eskimos of Polish descent? Outrage!!! What about the Polish Eskimos! They can't be left out! They MUST be counted!!

Okay, I'm lucid again. My warped sense of humor takes odd tangents at times, usually unexpectedly.

But you get my point. All too often we try to classify and define people in a One Size Fits All box or an overwhelmingly abundant selection of boxes.

Having said that, allow me to list a series of categories that may apply to FOW gamers!

Casual Gamer: Most if not all of the FOW gamer fits into this category in one shape or another. Most of us started putting toy soldiers and tanks on tabletops, basement / garage floors and in backyards with our group of friends. Gamers are social animals. We enjoy being around our friends and fellow gamers. Yeah, we might wear 101st Airborne uniforms and shout "Death from Above" before our paratroopers go in for assault. Yeah, we might use too many quotes from our favorite war movies. Kelly's Heroes is a favorite (A DEAL, deal! Maybe the guy's a Republican. "Business is business," right?) We're likely have been nerds and still are. Yet, we still arrive at our LGS or gaming night with miniature cases, dice, a bag of chips, drinks and a good attitude. FOW is likely not our only wargamming interest.

Tournament Player: This FOW'er specializes in tournaments. Army lists are designed to maximize the number of 6-1, 5-2 victories and avoid the dreaded 4-3, 3-4 and 1-1 results. The player has the stamina and intensity to focus on playing 3 games in one day. They also may need to do some research on their force if the tournament has points for Best History. For the larger tournaments, the player's concentration must be just as sharp for the next day's 2 or 3 battles. There is a bit of ruthlessness and blood thirstyness in a Tournament Player. They have to. To win a tournament, you strike hard and fast. That being said, I find that most Tournament Players are very friendly to first time tournament players. Some of the FOW Community's most intellectual contributors are Tournament Players.

Power Gamer: This is person who gives the hobby or game a bad name. The Power Gamer feeds on the blood of novices and newbs. They will Min-Max an Army List, squeezing every last bit of firepower and point efficiency so they boast how quickly they can vanquish an opposing army. The smile after a game is not one of happiness for playing such a great game of FOW, but by the number of smoke plumes from the other player's decimated army. Here be PzIVH's plowing the frozen fields of 1942 Russia. Power Gamers can be fun to play with after you smack around their Pet Army List. The whining, complaining and bitching alone can make it worth while. Every gaming group has at least one Power Game, probably more than one.

Historical Nut: Your Army List is wrong! The 502nd Schwere Panzerabteilung didn't have Hello, Kitty decals on the sides of its King Tiger tanks! This guy picks an army unit and researches it thoroughly, taking advantage of the books and web material available to him. He will do his best to ensure that the unit is represented accurately. He'll be on the Forums complaining if a source book is incorrectly organizing a unit or if a piece of equipment is missing. The example I gave is an extreme one. I fit partially in this category, since I chose 11.PD because I read Panzer Battles and wanted to model this German panzer division. I did the research, changed the army list several times, until I settled on a list that I think fairly represents the 11.PD during the winter of 1942-43. Others do the same with their army selections.

Where do you fit? I'm sure I am missing other categories. In the end, it really doesn't matter what type of player you are. Just have a good time (win or lose) with your fellow gamers

Friday, January 29, 2010

WH40K: Dan Abnett's "Legion"

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I just finished reading Dan Abnett's Legion book of the Horus Heresy series. I feel it isn't as good as his Horus Rising effort. Legion is still excellent and a very good read, however, I think it suffers from having too many central characters. Throughout the books the focus shifts from two Imperial Guard het's (NCO's), a human agent for a xeno race called The Cabal, to a member of the Lucifer Legion. The subject of the book title are seen through their eyes. Abnett intended this so that last Space Marine legion created by the Emperor, Alpha Legion, would remain mysterious and the reader is never sure of the legion's goals and objectives.

In fact, the end of the book is anti-climatic. The first three-quarters of the book leads up to the meeting with the Cabal and Alpha Legion. It happens and concludes in a manner that left me feeling slightly let down. Perhaps it is my own taste for climatic, huge battles where everything is decided and black and white. Black and white is NOT the Alpha Legion. They live and work in the shadows. It is no wonder they are shunned by their fellow Space Marine brethren for their unorthodox ways. Legion is best summed up as a mystery story about the Alpha Legion.

Dan Abnett is one of my favorite military sci-fi authors. I look forward to his next release in March 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Eastern Front versus Ostfront Point Values

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OstfrontEastern Front

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Company HQ:

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2 Panzer III G, H or J (early)180180

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upgrade to Panzer III L/M2525

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upgrade to Panzer III L/M2525

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add Sch├╝rzen to Panzer III L/M1010

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1st Platoon:

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4 Panzer III G, H or J (early)360360

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upgrade to Panzer III L/M2525

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upgrade to Panzer III L/M2525

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upgrade to Panzer III L/M2525

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upgrade to Panzer III L/M2525

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add Sch├╝rzen to Panzer III L/M1010

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2nd Platoon:

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3 Panzer III G, H or J (early)270270

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upgrade to Panzer IV F-26055

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upgrade to Panzer IV F-26055

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upgrade to Panzer IV F-26055

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3rd Platoon:

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Pioneer CMD R/MG, 6 x R/MG, 4 x Kfz 70 3-ton225225

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4th Platoon:

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2 SdKfz 231 (8-rad)9085

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Totals1,4751,455


The release of Eastern Front yielded changes to my 11.PD list.

My 11.PD force is now called a Mittlere "Medium" Panzerkompanie. The other Panzerkompanie lists in the Eastern Front book are a 1943 or Kursk armored formation, Czech tank company, Panther kompanie and two Schwere "Heavy" aka Tiger kompanies.

I gained 20 additional points, giving me the option of replacing the 2iC Panzer III L/M with a Panzer IV F-2. I'll lose two more Schurzen on tanks to get to 1,500 points. A force of 5 Panzer III L/M's and 4 Panzer IV F-2's is nothing to sneeze at.

I haven't played the complete force to know whether I want to make that change or perhaps I'll change the Pioneers. The Panzer III's are the core of the force and the 8-rads are too cool not to be included in the list. My reasons for fielding 11.PD is a picture of a Panzer III in winter whitewash. I just won't know until I see how all parts of this incarnation work in the heat of tabletop wargamming.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

11th Panzer: Painted HQ, PzIIIL and PzIVF-2 platoons

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Today is a good day to post these pictures. It's raining, windy, cold and muddy. Lawns are now lakes of rain water. Debris litters the streets and doorsteps. Shoes and clothing have a new best friend called mud. In short, it feels like the Eastern Front.

What a better idea to celebrate Eastern Front weather than to post pictures of the figures I have for the 11.PD. The minis are all Battlefront. I commissioned Ryan Miller of RJM Miniatures to paint my 11.PD force back in August 2008. Ryan's busy schedule and some ups and downs saw the HQ, PzIII platoon and PzIV platoon arrive in late August 2009. It was a long wait, but worth it.

CiC and 2CiC
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The CiC is the pointing tank commander.

PzIIIL platoon
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PzIVF-2 platoon
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Ryan's use of tank riders adds flavor to the force. Unfortunately, with the hazards of traveling to games, it means some of the riders don't survive the trip intact. Instead of super-gluing them back, I am using poster puddy. The puddy is grey and matches well with the winter white wash. When I get to a game, I plop the guys back on their tanks.

Ryan posted pics of all his completed commissions in 2009 to the FOW Board. Here's a quote from one of the replies:

Welcome back, Ryan. You never disappoint. So much excellent work here, I can hardly decide what to comment on. I guess I have to say that my favorite are the white washed panzers, which are really stunning. I really liked the mix of Schurtzen and no Schurtzen tanks in that first platoon as well. It adds some extra character to an already characterful unit. Lovely as always.-Mr. Church.

I receive similar compliments when I place the tanks on the table.

Thanks Ryan for great looking tanks!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

FOW Excel spreadsheet army files

Alchemist Voicu on the FOW Board has created and is hosting a site containing several Excel army list files. If you're looking to build an army, the Excel spreadsheet army file is a great tool to explore options and decide on those painful cuts when trimming to a point total. There are 70+ files on the site.

Yours truly created the Lend Lease Tankovy (Hammer & Sickle), British Light and Heavy Armored Squadrons (North Africa) and the Panzerkompanie Ost - Bagration (PDF) Excel files.

Here's the link:
http://www.mediafire.com/FoWArmyFiles

I'm adding the link to this blog as well.

All for now.

Coming soon...

11PD pics and army list

Monday, January 11, 2010

Training Exercise: Barrel to barrel in the trees

Last Saturday, I went to the first Hobby Day at the Knights of the Columbus of 2010.

I was there early and helped set up tables and unload gear and terrain. Turn out was very high because most people take a break from gaming in November and December.

My plan for 2010 is to be there early and get a quick game in before returning home and the Honey Do List. Tim was very understanding of my time and we decided to scrap up two 600-pt German forces and do a blue-on-blue training exercise.


Here's a few shots of the Hall:
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Refreshments bar and Tim scribbling up a 600-pt army.
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The Table.
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CiC, 2iC, and 3-strong platoon. All PzIIIL's.
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How this game was going to end was foreshadowed by the dice throws to see who went first. Tim and tied 3 times before he won the right to deploy first. Here he deploys his two F-2's and PzIIIJ(specials).
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I deploy and move my command units into the grain fields, while the platoon seeks cover in the small village.
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Tim's 2iC tries to be sneaky and flank me.
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Tim's tanks are armed with lasers! Whew! It's just a leveling tool to check line of sight.
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Two hits! I bounced a 75mm shell off the armor (yah, FA6!) and one tank is bailed, whose crew quickly jumps back in.
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Uh oh...2iC driver bogs down.
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Not enjoying so much firepower in their direction, the 3-tank platoon shifts over to deal with Tim's 2iC.
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I manage one hit and Tim obliges me by failing an armor save and I make a FP roll. First blood to the men of 11th Panzer.
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The 3-tank platoon then returns to the village and promptly gets shot at again, this time with deadly results - 1 dead tank and 1 bailed tank.
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CiC and 2iC make it into the forest.
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2iC bogs down, the CiC pops out of the forest for an ineffectual shot.
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The survivor of the 3-tank platoon hides behind his burning friends and a building. A couple of turns of the CiC and 2iC play peek-a-boo with Tim's 2 F-2's and 2 IIIJ (specials) and Tim decides to press the issue and charge into the forest. A newbie watching the game rolls all the bog checks and makes them all.
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2iC gets blowed up, but Tim bogs a tank. The newbie had gone off to another game, so Tim was "forced" to roll his own dice. The survivor arrives in the forest to help the CiC. They manage to bail one of Tim's IIIJ's.
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The dancing and maneuvering begins. Tim misses or I make armor saves. In return, a IIIJ goes down.
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The crew of the F-2 jumps back in, Tim makes bog checks, the IIIJ swivels its turret and I await the destruction of my tanks. But no! One F-2 misses and so does the IIIJ, I make an armor save versus the F-2! The 75mm must have gone right through the tank.
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An F-2 blows up. The forest is filled with smoke, the sound of booming cannon and shouting crews. It's now 2 versus 2.
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Tim misses all his shots. I don't.
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The view from ground level.
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600-pt games usually go quickly. This one didn't. It lasted about 2 hours. Tim helped explain rules and taught me a thing or two about leaving one tank of a platoon in the open and the rest in concealment.

Tim and I were both smiling and cracking jokes at how ineffectual our cannon fire was in the forest. Since this was a Blue on Blue engagement, we imagined the tanks were shooting paint, like Odd Ball's Sherman in Kelly's Heroes, at each other. We figured the tanks in the forest were covered in paint. Upon their return to the dispersal, Tim said the commanders would be there to yell at the tank crews "Fire and Maneuver!" They'd also be screaming at the crews because of poor marksmanship. Vets shooting at vets, especially in concealment means needing lots of 5's and 6's.

The enjoyable forest battle lasted several turns. Vets shooting at vets, especially in concealment means needing lots of 5's or 6's. Tim and I shot and shot and shot at each other. Miss, miss, hit, armor save, hit, failed armor save, failed firepower roll, etc, etc. At the end, we both were shouting, "No!", "Yes!" "Argggh".

Tim has a great attitude and is really fun to play with or against. He said he'd be happy to accomodate my early schedule and get a game set up for next Hobby Day.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Warhammer 40K fiction

The other day at the LGS I saw a tables of Warhammer 40K being played. This brought back memories of 20 years ago, when I first ventured into table top wargaming with WH40K. Even more of a coincidence, I was at my friend's shop and saw the stacks of miniature cases containing my Ork army. My friends and I haven't played in years. We migrated to other games, Magic the Gathering being one such game, sucking up a bulk of our playing time and $$$.

While shopping for Christmas presents at Borders, I saw a series of WH40K novels and picked up Horus Rising by Dan Abnett. It's the first science fiction book I've bought in years.

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I read the book in a few days, when time allowed.

I admit I had a bias against fiction based on popular games. My opinion was colored by the volume of work I saw at bookstores. I thought the authors were hacks and just churning out product while the popularity of the game was at its height. This view changed when Cook lent me a copy of a Battletech book. I forget the name now, but it was good and I went out and bought my own copy.

Dan Abnett is not a hack and a very good author. His descriptions of large scale battles and up-close-and-personal fights are excellent. He paints a dark and vivid picture of combat: chaotic, harrowing, deadly.

Yet, what drew me into the pages of Horus Rising are the characters themselves. When you look at a Space Marine, it's a giant of a man, encased in armor and wielding weapons that level buildings. Yet, Abnett's characters are still human with a wide variety of emotions.

Garviel Loken is the main character. The Emperor is uniting mankind in a Great Crusade with The Truth. Worlds are brought into "compliance" and into the Light of the Truth. The Truth will Set You Free. Yet, Garviel is confronted with events that make him question the Truth. His journey lays the foundation for the rest of the Horus Heresy series of books.

If you like military fiction or military science fiction, I highly recommend this book.

I bought Legion, another book in the Heresy series by Abnett and look forward to opening its pages.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Eastern Front coming to a LGS near you

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The eagerly awaited (and much debated) Eastern Front book is scheduled for release this Friday. If history is any indicator, US Customs will hold the book at the dock for at least a week. There's a chance Battlefront might have wised up and sent the books early to the US to avoid the delay, but there are no rumors this was done.

Before the book was released, the FOW Forum had two camps about what to do with the Panzerkompanie. One camp argued that the army lists needed to be separated by time periods to make the lists more historical. On the other hand, many argued that they shouldn't be limited on what tanks they want to use for their panzerkompanie. Period. People complained about this approach since it led to most people using PzIIIN's, Panzer IIIL's and IIIM's along with PzIVG's in what is basically a 1943 (Kursk) panzerkompanie. A 1943 panzerkompanie is much different then a 1942 tank force with the changes in armor value to the PzIII's and higher AT values for the PzIVG. Battlefront is partly to blame because the point costing of PzIIIJ those tanks offered no advantages over taking a 1943 tank such as the PzIIIN (only 15 points to upgrade).

I'm a historical person, I want to field units to mirror a formation that actually fought at a particular time and place. When contemplating the 11.PD, I had originally decided PzIIIN's to be the mainstay of the force. However, research indicated that the 11.PD didn't use PzIIIN's, and instead used the long (lang) 50mm. I chose the PzIIIL's for 11.PD because pictures from the Sum 42 showed the uparmored gun mantlet. But that's me.

Others are just want to min-max their forces with 1943 tanks with Tigers in support.

BattleFront listened to the debate and it appears they chose to try to satisfy both parties. Here's a list of the panzerkompanies in Eastern Front:

1942 Schwere Panzerkompanie
1943 Schwere Panzerkompanie
Czech Panzerkompanie
Mittlere Panzerkompanie
a 1943-style Panzerkompanie
Kursk Pantherkompanie

I think Battlefront got it right. Rather than create one or two very generic lists, they created several specific lists, leaving it to the player to pick which one fits their tastes or playing style. Tournament Organizers now have the option to decide which of the lists are allowed, especially if they want a 1942-themed tournament.

I expect much wailing and gnashing of teeth when the lists come out anyway. Not everyone will be satisfied. But I also expect much of the shouting will be centered on point value, rather than specific lists.

Let the complaining begin...