Saturday, November 27, 2010

MW AAR: 229th Sep Tank Reg vs Finns

Daniel and I played Roadblock last month.

Initially I wanted to play 1,500 pts, but Daniel would have none of that and wanted 1,750pts. I threw in 200pts of Sporadic Sturmies to bring my force up from 1,495 to 1,695. The night was getting late and I didn't want to bother with the other 55pts.

Here's my force:

229th Separate Tank Regiment
HQ Sherman
8x Shermans
8x Shermans
3x BA-10M's
2x SU-152's
Limited Sturmoviks

Daniel ran the tank Finn force.

By memory he had:

2x KV-1E's
4x T-28's
4x T-26's
1x Platoon of Pioneers
2x BT-42's
1x Platoon of mortars
2x Flak vehicles

I'm sure I am forgetting the rest of his force.

Onto the battle. Roadblock has the attacker select a platoon to ambush. Daniel pleaded and whined and finally I decided on the T-26's. The T-26 and T-28 had the same gun, so I went with the platoon with weaker armor to wipe them out.

The Shermans ambushed, while Daniel had the KV-1's escort the T-26's.

The Road

Friday, November 19, 2010

WW2 in HD: The Air War


I taped this History Channel show a couple of weeks ago but just this week had the time to sit down and watch it.

Before I comment on the show, I need to point out that I'm really critical when it comes to the History Channel when they do WW2 subjects.

I have a tendency to nit-pick and find errors in the show's narrative. Sometimes I wonder if the writers for History Channel get all their information on historical personalities, battles and equipment from Wikipedia. This is especially true when the subject is World War 2 air combat. My start in miniature wargaming began with a 80-person dogfight over the Pacific at Origins '86.

Since then I've read hundreds of aviation books and seen virtually every aviation war movie. I was also a researcher on a series of volumes devoted to the Eastern Front air war.

...and you know what, I liked WW2 in HD: the Air War. I thought it was really well done. The images and pictures and sound is spectacular!

The program centers on a 100th Bomb Group bombardier, a 4th Fighter Group pilot, a B-17 pilot and journalist Andy Rooney. Andy Rooney was one of the first Stars & Stripes journalist allowed to fly with the fledgeling 8th Air Force. Actors provide voice overs when their letters are read. All 4 men also give interviews and speak about their experiences.

Few people know that the 8th Air Force suffered more war dead than than U.S. Marine Corps. When a bomber was shot down, it knocked 10 airmen out of the war. Escaping from a stricken bomber at 25,000ft didn't give much chance of survival. Fighter pilot also suffered when they went "to the deck" and conducted strafing.

The air battles covered were: Blitz Week in Jul-1943, the Regensburg/Schweinfurt raid in Aug-43, and the 1st raid on Berlin on Mar 6, 1944.

What I liked:

Color film - I've seen most of the footage, but in HD it has new life.
Sound - Instead of using the old film sound, new digitized sounds of Merlin engines, B-17 engines, .50 cal firing and a slipstream all add life to the images.
The Vets - I liked hearing about their feelings. How the grizzled veterans knew it all boiled down to luck, while the rookie pilot was gung-ho and had no idea what was waiting for him at 25,000ft.
The Show - Emphasized the men and their sacrifices. No tales of glory. These men served their country and did a job.

What I didn't like:

Clip Repeating - in the first hour the same bomber was shown going down many, many times. I know where the clip is from - the Bremen raid documented for the Memphis Bell wartime film (no, not the cheese ball movie from the 90's).
Wrong Clips - Footage from a B-29 raid over Japan. I know the clip.
The Ger-Mans - Showed 109's from the early Battle of France and not the more common 109G's.

None of these subtract from the show at all.

After watching this show, I feel the need for a game of CY6! or Mustangs and Messerschmitts.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Affordable Housing FoW Style


This past Saturday, it was Hobby Day at the Knights of Columbus Hall. I was there early and saw Frank busy making buildings from corrugated boxes. I found what he was doing fascinating and wanted to share it. Frank is one of the more creative people I know, he should be he was an art major, and always has cool scenery ideas.

What follows are the steps Frank takes to create a building.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Roadblock Mission


I wanted to write about this mission before the posting the Roadblock AAR. The set-up for Roadblock (from Das Book) is very interesting and the game could be won or lost after the first ambush in most cases for those who aren't prepared for it list-wise or mentally.

As a cavaet, take whatever comments about this mission with a grain of salt. I've played the mission once and I'm not the most experienced FOW player out there. But, over the years of wargamming, the following truths are apparent even to one with limited tactical acumen such as myself. These truths are as follows:

1) More guns shooting enemy = good
2) Large numbers of enemy guns shooting back = bad

My take on wargamming is to get the most firepower aimed at the enemy, while reducing the amount of his firepower directed back at me. In most wargames, this basic formula holds true. The trick is doing it; therein lies the realm of tactics.

Now the Roadblock missions offers the chance to put LOTS of guns on the enemy at the start of the game without any maneuvering!

In the Roadblock Mission the Defender gets to cherry pick an Attacker's platoon as the subject of the ambush. The Attacker then nominates a platoon (and a third platoon is company is > 7 platoons) as escort. This opens up all sorts of interesting choices for the Defender.


Take the typical LW German Panzer Kompanie. Let's assume HQ 2x Pz IV's, CP1 3x Panthers, CP2 4xPz IV's, SP1 4xBrummbars, and SP2 8-Rads for a grand total of 1,490 pts. Hmmmm...what to chooose? Oh, look! I see 3 Panthers at a cost of 560 pts. Oooh, they are FA10 with AT14 nastiness, but only SA5. I want them gone!

Let's further assume I am running my LW Lend Lease Tankovy with Sherman 75's. My force looks like HQ M4A2 (Nevsky), CP 8x M4A2, CP 8xM4A2, SP1 3xISU-122, SP2 Short Spetsnaz and Sturmies. Okay, my M4's are AT10, FP3+. I could select the ISU-122's with their AT15 gun, plus they get the Volley Fire rule, allowing misses to be re-rolled. On the other hand, AT15 is like using a sledgehammer against a bug (Panther's SA5). I'm also not rolling many dice when trying to hit a Veteran unit.

Switching over to the M4 company. I can fling 16 AT10 shots at the Panthers using eight M4's. I don't want to go MathHammer on people, but a few educated guesses can give an idea of what 8 M4's ambushing 3 Panthers might look like.

Okay, 16 shots needing 4's (50% chance) to hit (Confident Vet Panthers on the road and in the open). Assume the dice rolls are slightly less than average and yield 7 hits. The Panther player is now facing AT10 vs SA5 and needs 5's to tie and 6's to bounce, so basically the Panthers will save 1/3rd of the hits. When I say "save", I mean there's not chance for the Panther to be destroyed on that particular hit. We'll assume the Panther player makes 2 saves. That leaves 5 FP "to destroy" tests for the Sherman player. Needing 3's or better, the chances (67%) are that even with below average dice, 2 Panthers will be dead. In most cases, there will be 3 burning Panthers and a menacing component of the German player's list is gone with the added hurt of being down 1 VP.

Basically, a company of 8 Sherman 75's costing 410 pts can wipe out a Panther platoon worth 560 pts at the start of Roadblock. There's also a chance a German player won't recover because they are so used to relying on Panther's near invulnerability on the board.

Am I wrong in thinking Tankovy is going to have a better than puncher's chance of destroying Veteran units due to the sheer volume of fire from one company? British or Americans can "only" generate 8 shots from a standard 4-vehicle platoon. In those cases, I'd guestimate 1 dead Panther and 1 bailed Panther. A good result, but the platoon isn't even forced into a morale check.

M10's and Marders are going to be beasts in Roadblock. They get to "Tee-up" against what they are designed to destroy and have the guns to overwhelm a target's side armor so that removes the save from the kill equation. Plus, if the escort platoon destroys the ambushing platoon because of the M10 or Marder's paper-thin armor, it doesn't cripple the Defender's force. Who'd be willing to trade a platoon of M10's to wipe out 3 Tigers? Or perhaps 3 Marders in exchange for 3 dead IS-2's or ISU-122's?

The Defender's choice of what Attacker platoon to ambush is where the meta-game of Roadblock will come in play. Is selecting the Panthers to ambush the best choice? What about the PzIV's or the Brummbar's? What if the German list had Tigers instead of Panthers? Maybe the Tigers are a better platoon to select and that means I should use the ISU-122's in ambush because a Tiger's sA8 is going to bounce a 75mm AT10 shot with annoying frequency.

I think most Defending players will look at the Attacker's list and select a key platoon. In the case of the Panther platoon, it's a highly effective and costly platoon with a few vehicles, meaning there's a good chance of removing that platoon from play. A Defender may look across the table and see armored artillery. Maybe that's a good platoon to ambush, removing smoke barrages, pinning barrages and a direct fire threat from the Attacker. Or maybe your list has Priority Air and the opponent has invested in AA. Select the AA platoon and wipe it out. There's all sorts of options.

I'll have to play the flip side of Roadblock and experience what's it is like when a large blob of tanks is ambushed. With my LW Lend Lease list, I have a feeling the ISU-122's will be selected for "Special Attention". If I was running Panthers or Tigers, that's what I'd do.

When I first started writing this post, I was going to complain that I thought Roadblock heavily favors the Defender cherry picking the Attacker's list. It may still turn out to be the case in the future, but it's too early to tell. I think any player planning to attend a Tourney with Roadblock as one of the missions should take a good hard look at their list and figure out how they are going survive with the loss of a key platoon before the beginning of Turn 1. Or maybe the player brings a more vanilla list with several good, not great, multi-role platoons that can perform a variety of functions (Pz IV list with no big kitties for example) after the ambuscade.

Remember, I'm a relative "noob" to FOW in terms of games played. My thoughts, theories and assumption could be totally offbase. Hopefully you, the reader, can set me straight. I look forward to hearing about other's experiences and thoughts about Roadblock.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Walking Dead TV Series Premier


Last night was Halloween. While I was handling out 1,000 pieces of candy to the swarms of kids coming to the door, the DVR was busy taping AMC's new show, The Walking Dead. I haven't read the comic books series nor the graphic novel compilations. While I wait for people to show on FOW Day at the Realm, I have skimmed the Walking Dead graphic novel and thought it was a good read.

Well now the story is on TV for all Zombie-philes to enjoy. Jawballs @ The Blood Angels sums up the thoughts of many zombie movie/tv/book fans.

Hollywood has noticed that there is a large market craving (brains any one?) zombie flicks. In recent years, zombie fans have been treated with a plethora of zombie films. A small sample of the one's I've seen recently.

Resident Evil series (3 out of 5 brains) - Mila Jovovich and lots of firepower! The zombies take a distant supporting role to Mila. Not many people, dead or alive, can distract me from Mila.

Zombieland (4 out of 5 brains) - A great, fun, comedic film. You get Woody Harrelson (e'nuff said), the talented Jesse Eisenberg and Bill Murray. I'd give the flick 5 stars if it focused solely on Eisenberg and Harrelson's and their dynamic relationship.

Dead Snow (4 brains) - Nazis Zombies! Fun, bloody and buckets of gore.

World War Z is reportedly in script finalization phase and Brad Pitt is cast for the lead role.

Now we have AMC's The Walking Dead. I watched it last night and was captivated from the start. AMC didn't skimp on production. It looks like the folks behind the show really want to make a good zombie show. We're introduced to the characters and get to watch them deal with a world gone over to the zombies. The show starts like 28 Days, but apparently the Walking Dead comic and 28 Days movie came out at the same time, so the two writers had the same opening sequence in mind. It's not a case of the Walking Dead writer borrowing from 28 Days.

The show will be about the characters. Sure, there are very cool zombie effects, but the emphasis will be on the people left to pick up their lives while coming to the reality that if they make a wrong turn or open the wrong door, there's a dead person who thinks you're their Value Meal!

I've identified with the lead character and the father and son. I guess it's good I didn't read the comic or graphics novel because I don't know their fates. It'll be that much more of a shock when the zombies get them.

One thing that strikes me is the long moments of silence. I mean it makes sense. In a dead world and civilization crumbled, all the noise of cars, jets, voices, radios, iPods, TV, newcasts, the rush rush rush of people coming and going is Gone. Simply Gone. We, as a society, never realize how much noise there is until we get away to the mountains, the countryside, an empty beach, a hillside and hear nothing but the wind.

I can't recommend this TV series highly enough. If zombies are your "thing", find a way to watch it or borrow a DVD copy from a friend.

Daniel and I played Roadblock last week. I have 28 pictures to sort through for the AAR, or maybe I'll just post all 28 of them. =) I'll have the AAR up in a few days as well as comments about the Roadblock mission.