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It was a big weekend for me, hobby-wise! On Saturday, my gaming group celebrated the launch of Flames of War version 4 by putting on an event at our local Hobby Town store. I think it was a big success, and there were a number of newcomers who wandered in and shared in the fun. We had a number of new starter boxes, so some of us were busy sticking Grant and Crusader tanks together, while on other tables, people were taking the new rules for their first official outing.

Then on Sunday, a couple of us got together to play our first Sharp Practice game. It’s been our intent to do some AWI gaming for several months now, but for one reason or another it hasn’t happened. Finally, the stars aligned, and we got some small forces onto the table, along with some fantastic scratch-built buildings made by Randy and a Cigar Box terrain mat provided by club member, Tom.

Freshly glued tanks duke it out using the new rules and stat cards

Taking the Sharp Practice rules for a brisk Sunday afternoon walk.

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Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I had quite an eclectic range of gaming experiences over the four day holiday.

On Friday, some of the guys from my game club came over to play our first games of Star Wars Imperial Assault. We had an awesome time, with Wes playing the fiendish forces of the Imperials, while Tom, Rod and I played the plucky rebels. We’ll definitely be playing more of this soon, I can see it becoming a club staple.

Saturday saw the club’s annual Tanksgiving battle, this year being an Arab Israeli wars battle. I didn’t participate, but got the chance to take some pics of the impressive terrain set-up before everyone blew each other up!

With the long weekend drawing to a close, I took some time to spend Sunday evening painting my first stand of AWI minis. Honestly, they aren’t my greatest work, but I am desperate to get them on the table as soon as possible for some Black Powder battles, so I cut more corners than usual. Once I get more painted, I will put together a more dedicated post.

Oh and I got a Black Friday deal on Blood Bowl,  but that’s a story for another day!

Star Wars Imperial Assault

Star Wars Imperial Assault

Star Wars Imperial Assault

Star Wars Imperial Assault

Star Wars Imperial Assault

Star Wars Imperial Assault

Flames of War - Tanksgiving 2016

Flames of War – Tanksgiving 2016

Flames of War - Tanksgiving 2016

Flames of War – Tanksgiving 2016

Flames of War - Tanksgiving 2016

Flames of War – Tanksgiving 2016

Flames of War - Tanksgiving 2016

Flames of War – Tanksgiving 2016

British Redcoats from Warlord Games

British Redcoats from Warlord Games

British Redcoats from Warlord Games

British Redcoats from Warlord Games

British Redcoats from Warlord Games

British Redcoats from Warlord Games

Some of the guys at my local game club have decided to embark on a new gaming adventure, with a foray into the American War of Independence.  Tom and Wes will be Colonial generals, while Randy and I have both taken the kings’ shilling. We’ve each got a Warlord Games starter box, and intend using Black Powder rules.

My progress so far has been three line units, undercoated and built, plus a small group of skirmishers. We’re starting with 20-man units and upgrading to larger ones as we get more units ready for battle.

warlord_awi_british_004 warlord_awi_british_002 warlord_awi_british_003 warlord_awi_british_001

My game group has shown a good level of interest in Battlefront’s Team Yankee of late, and being one who’s happy to go with the flow of what people are playing, I took a chance and bought a West German starter set and some other bits and pieces. I spent the next few days perusing the books – the fluff in particular, and glued a couple of models together, then on Saturday got a demo game in at the club.

At this point I want to make perfectly clear two factors – we were playing roughly 60pt lists in a game I’m told is supposed to be played with 100pt lists, so yes, this was a smaller than average game. Secondly, Dave, the guy demoing the game did a great job explaining the rules, and in no way made any attempt to either crush me, or conversely, give me an easy win.

To demonstrate my experience of the Team Yankee demo, I want to make a comparison of the other game I played this weekend, a “regular WW2” game of FOW, at roughly average points (1250/1500). The WW2 game had my US paratroopers grimly holding onto their defensive positions, withstanding numerous bombardments, until the reserves came to relieve them. There were so many climactic moments, it’s hard to single out just one – my opponent’s PAK 40’s gun shields saved him over and over again, one of my platoons made 13, yes 13 saving throws, my medic failed every chance to revive someone – you get the idea. The pivotal moment of the battle came when the Germans decided to break the deadlock by launching an assault, defying the odds and ultimately winning the game. We both had an awesome game, it could’ve gone either way, and I left it wanting to play more. I can say this about plenty of FOW games I’ve played.

In Team Yankee, my army rolled up, blew the crap out of everything, game over.

Wait, what? That’s it?

I don’t quite know what I was expecting. Going into the game, I thought I’d have to learn about the high-tech semi-modern world of warfare the hard way, with weird and wonderful weapons catching me by surprise. What I did not expect, was for me to effortlessly zoom my super tanks forward at breakneck speed in the very first turn, shoot my uber-cannon with absolutely no penalty, and then mop up the survivors with helicopters from the other side of the table.

The whole thing has been on my mind over the weekend, not least of all because I already invested a chunk of change into the game. Does the game really play that much differently at the recommended points level? Was it a bad match-up of units? Did we not use enough terrain? I certainly thought we did, more than a regular FOW game for sure. So what am I missing?

What my issue essentially boils down to is choice. Or to put it another way, necessary tactical decision making. In a WW2 game, my units suffer a shooting penalty if they move, that’s a choice, the units fare well against certain units, and poorly against others, that’s a choice, I have to maneuver in a way that makes the best use of terrain and cover, that’s a choice.

But in Team Yankee, I can hit anything I want, wherever I want, and as long as I get the first turn, my opponent’s force will likely be so damaged that they can’t hit back effectively. Like a Wild West gunfight, if I get the drop, it’s over. There’s not even a wide variety of units to pick a force from, let alone options to kit them out in different ways.

I hate to judge an entire system from one game, so I will give it another go. But until I am convinced otherwise, I’ll be spending my quality hobby time with Tigers instead of Leopards.

My buddy Tom and I played one of the WWPD Firestorm Bastogne campaign games yesterday, with me playing as the 101st Airborne, against a tide of German infantry. With the scenario special rules only allowing infantry and man-packed gun teams, this was always going to be a meatgrinder!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, while I am sure I’m in the minority, I do not like WWPD. They place far too much focus on aspects of the hobby that I dislike. But, that being said, I did enjoy this game, and appreciate them running a campaign.

Easy Company digs in around the objectives in the town.

Easy Company digs in around the objectives in the town.

The Germans advance, armed with a mix of Rifle/MG and Assault Rifle teams

The Germans advance, armed with a mix of Rifle/MG and Assault Rifle teams

As both teams blast away at each other from the cover of their positions for several turns, the road separating them became a killing ground

As both teams blast away at each other from the cover of their positions for several turns, the road separating them became a killing ground

Casualties start to mount on the Airborne reserve units.

Casualties start to mount on the Airborne reserve units.

Despite receiving an avalanche of fire, the Germans risk everything in an all-out assault.

Despite receiving an avalanche of fire, the Germans risk everything in an all-out assault.

After at least three full turns of all-out firing, the game came down to the Germans braving death or glory in an assault on a pinned down LMG unit. The risky moved paid off, with the unit of Grenadiers effectively chewing their way up the thin green-grey line of paratroopers, and seizing the objective.

I look forward to playing the next campaign turn soon!

 

“Why do all my generals want to destroy my bridges?” 

– Generalfeldmarschall Walther Model

 

Yesterday, the game group got together to fight our Operation Market Garden summer campaign finale – The Battle of Arnhem. This would follow a long tradition of day-long Flames of War mega battles the group has played, and for my money, was the best yet. On with the photos!

Initial setup, with my Fallschirmjager at the bottom. Their objective to cross the bridge only hindered by countless dug-in British paras.

Initial setup, with my Fallschirmjager at the bottom. Their objective to cross the bridge only hindered by countless dug-in British paras.

Tom's awesome metal toy bridge was the centerpiece of the action. With masses of artillery support on both sides, the devastating bombardment template was frequently on hand.

Tom’s awesome metal toy bridge was the centerpiece of the action. With masses of artillery support on both sides, the devastating bombardment template was frequently on hand.

A view from the bridge...

A view from the bridge…

With such a big table, the artillery ranges were put to the extreme, with shells whizzing high from both sides

With such a big table, the artillery ranges were put to the extreme, with shells whizzing high from both sides

The allied reserves race to push into the city.

The allied reserves race to push into the city.

My fallschirmjager AT guns gradually suffer a battle of attrition with the well protected Paras

My fallschirmjager AT guns gradually suffer a battle of attrition with the well protected Paras

More troops come into reserve, gradually pushing back the brave defenders

More troops come into reserve, gradually pushing back the brave defenders

Breakthrough guns take a withering toll on the allied defense.

Breakthrough guns take a withering toll on the allied defense.

Axis Commander Randy gleefully dials in another massive bombardment.

Axis Commander Randy gleefully dials in another massive bombardment.

As the main line of defense is pushed back, the axis roll forward.

As the main line of defense is pushed back, the axis roll forward.

On the opposite side of the table, the German stronghold is attacked fiercely from every angle.

On the opposite side of the table, the German stronghold is attacked fiercely from every angle.

With one combined push from three Axis commanders, the Germans push across the bridge to win the day

With one combined push from three Axis commanders, the Germans push across the bridge to win the day.

After several hours of hard fighting, the Germans emerged victorious, but it was a very close game, and I hope everyone else had as much fun as I did.

One of the interesting aspects of a game this size, are the distances involved – as you can probably tell from my photos, I really was only focused on my own sector of the table, with little real knowledge of what was happening on the other side of the bridge. This made for some tense decisions for both teams, and an ever-evolving plan.

Thanks go to Tom and Kevin for offering to be overall commanders for both sides, during the campaign. I can’t wait to play again soon, and really have an itch to put my Russians back on the table!