Monday, 13 March 2017

Blood and Plunder: First game and first impressions

Chris and I fought our first game of Firelock Games ( )
recently released Blood and Plunder, which we backed in last years Kickstarter.. A skirmish game in the age of Piracy, with land battles, ship to shore and ship to ship, why wouldn't we??? Its simply awesome form first impressions, not to difficult to understand but we have only tried a simple 100pts game for the basic

We used the 100pts starter forces, with me playing my recently painted Spanish Guarda Costa, against Chris's dastardly English buccaneers. I had 5 models more, but his troops were slightly better...

Turn 1 saw us both come to grips with the activation card decks, which allows the differently rated troops (inexperienced/trained/Veteran) a number of action as per assigned on the cards. This simple mechanic allows you to activate units quickly depending on the suit, in order of Spades/Hearts/Diamonds/Clubs but the quicker a unit acts, the lower the number of activations it is allowed. So an inexperienced unit may take one action with a spade activation, where it would be two with a club. Works very well. My Milicianos moved up my left to take the high ground, while my captain and two Marineros units took centre in the bushes and the ruins, with my Lanceros bringing up the right and looking to sort out the English Forlorn hope, while the Freebooters and Sea Dogs advanced up on my left.

Turn 2 saw the first casualty as the Freebooters picked off one of my Captains escorting Marineros. The Freeboters rapid reload was to be a constant thorn in the Spanish side, as it allows them to remove a reload marker for free, which they frequently did. The rest of the turn saw manouevreing.

Turn 3 saw my second Marineros try and charge into melee with the Freebooters, but they used their sidearms of one use pistols to devastate me on the way in, the number of hits causing my fatigue to be double my solo figure, automatically routing me. Fatigue is like pins in bolt action, the more you have the less you can do until you simply run away. But unlike a hit equating to a pin, you have to test on a units resolve figure, which can result in repeated hits and casualties, but a unit holding steady. This also works very well, as prior to reading the rules, wasn't sure if fatigue (pins) would be overly important. As it is it works!

My Milicianos get up the hill, but poor cards left them slowly moving as they are inexperienced.

My captain and his marineros received fatigue from the Freebooters that they couldn't shake (from rally orders, failing resolve despite the captain being Inspiring. The amount of 4's I rolled was shocking)

Turn 4 saw the forlorn hope edge out the bushes and my Lanceros charging in. (As we were learning, CHris didn't elect to defensive shoot so we could see how combat actually worked. Very sporting) I then informed him my spears gave me bonuses to hit, which I only felt the need to point out after he took it. I took out two men, forcing the Forlorn Hope to take 3 fatigue test (one for being hit, 2 more for casualties) and they passed all 3 on a D10 of 4+

Chris's Sea dogs under Freebooter cover advanced against my captain's men. while the slowcoaches on  the hill moved cautiously

Turn 5. Using his commander to move his Seadogs, Chris then moved again and charged, taking a point of fatigue for moving over 8". My Marineros looked to emulate the Freebooters, but fluffed their defensive fire even with the use of a fortune point (a piece of eight, all captains have 3 which can be spent to do certain things, like re-roll all dice in an attack)

The Brawlers rule for seadogs meant Chris got an extra attack dice for any natural 10's rolled, and he got about hits all in and my dice failed me as my saves were dire, even with a second piece of eight being used!!! Losing my captains unit meant losing my captain (as he couldn't transfer to another as no one was close enough). This meant I had 2 more strikes than Chris as I had lost 50% of my force and he hadn't and I'd technically auto lose but we decided to play on with No Quarter

 The Forlorn Hope fought on, and we both kept passing resolve to avoid fatigue

Turn 6 saw my Milicianos finally get a target, and totally fluffing their attacks, which saw my last fortune point go and hit one man, who saved due to cover (units in cover get a save equal to shoot save on the unit card.

Of course, my guys weren't in cover and so got a 9+ save on a D10... Being Inexperienced wasn't great. However, 4 fatigue and 3 men meant I didn't rout, but I did become shaken so could either go prone or run away from the Freebooters as they had caused me to become shaken. Tactical genus that I am saw me run away...
Straight into the waiting Seadogs, who closed to short range and hit me with pistol shot, killing one man and routing the other two...

Still, I was determined to do some good in defence of the Spanish lands... The Last Lancero hit the No hoper

But he survived...

And survived...

And survived... long enough for his mates to help out!

So, I lost everyone, and Chris lost 4 models. Painted models always die first!!! The game mechanics are easy to pick up, the fatigue/resolve, skill/save all seem balanced and it was great fun, in a little over an hour bearing in mind we'd never played before. Adding cannons doesn't seem to be too tricky, nor buildings and just reading up on the ships.... All in all, Chris and I were very impressed, not just with the game and the models, but the forces we have. Being Scottish I couldn't go English obviously, and the duff Spaniard Milicianos already remind me so much of my olde Night Goblins!!! (Definitely need a Spanish Milita box). While Chris is desperate for some more Forlorn Hope, not because they are rock, but cause they have explosives... We tried the rules for them after the game, seem fun! Chris hit well with his, and mines exploded prematurely and killed half my guys!!!

Anyway, first blood to the English, but the Spanish will return...

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Merseyside Bolt Action Spring Campaign: Anzio

FJ's v Regular British

So a new campaign kicks off, which is nice as its been a year since last one (could hardly believe it) and way things are shaping not going to get to many Bolt Action events this year and not playing to many games of Version 2.

But babbling already, to business. The first battle was based on the Factory at Aprilla, a meeting engagement scenario on the board below. As I'd set up the board, I gave my opponent Matthew the choice of edge rather than rolling for it.

Matthews  well painted force was as follows:

British army, all regular, rapid fire

2nd Lt +1
Free Artillery observer (Not pictured as on board)

3 x 10 men with SMG and LMG
1 x 5 men with SMG and LMG
Piat Team
Light mortar team
Sniper team (not pictured as on board)
Bren carrier with additional LMG
Sherman Firefly

Nice balanced army, although Firefly too expensive given my lack of armour. But then Matthew wasn't to know what I was taking, and besides, he likes the model...  And it was a real pain!

Despite Matthew posting on the Facebook page, I'd not registered he was my opponent and I went for my original Bolt Action force,  my veteran Fallschirmjaeger.

2nd Lt +1

2 x 7 FJ's with 6 SMG's. 1 Assault rifle and 3 Panzerfausts
4 x 5 FJ's with 1 SMG and 1 LMG
Sniper team (Not pictured as on board)
MMG team
Medium Mortar team
BMW 75 with sidecar

Lots of firepower and too sturdy assault groups

 Matthew won the roll of for Forward Observers, and placed both the Artillery observer and sniper team in the factory ruins. I took the ubiquitous church steeple.

Turn 1

My sniper took a pin from his British opponents, and I decided to avoid the obvious retaliation and promptly missed the Artillery observer...
A ten man squad of Tommies advanced on behind hedgerows on my right and opened up on the church towers, but not hits..

All of my squads ran on, with a 5 man LMG squad running for the 3 houses, and a 4th up behind the church. The British took the factory ruins with a squad and the wooded park, spreading out across the board. I sent both my assault groups up behind the 1st and 3rd house, while MMG and BMW went to the right of the church to keep the British squad on my right occupied. The Sherman also was on my right, advancing and missing the sniper so only one assault squad with their panzerfausts would be a threat to it. The Bren carrier and its half squad went on the centre left, advancing on and drawing first blood as an FJ fell to twin LMG fire. The Brit light mortar was in the wooded park to assist the squad there and piat and officer crept up in the ruins near the Firefly.

                                               Halfway through turn 1 (British sniper, 3rd floor, 1st window on right)
                                              Still halfway through turn 1
                                 And still halfway through turn 1.

         End of turn 1. Blue turn marker is where Matthew hopes his artillery is coming in...

Turn 2: "Germans in the open, fire for effect!!!"

The veterans Germans hit the deck and though shaken, hadn't received a casualty. However, the medic took a pin, the Lt, 2 x 5 man squads and the right assault squad were all given 3.

Realising the German centre weren't going to be doing much this turn, I took out the British sniper team with mine, and then ducked as the right rifles squad zeroed in again on the church after advancing... The snipers remained unscathed, while the MMG team which had ran into the small barn on my extreme right lost two men to a 17pdr shell from the Sherman! The BMW peppered the hedgerow and inflicted a casualty on the right hand British unit, which was hit again for no damage by the small LMG squad behind the church

On my left and centre, my mortar missed the squad sin the ruins who put a pin on my right assault squad. The British light mortar was just out of range and the British squad on my extreme left in the park went into ambush... All pinned units successfully rallied in turn 2, bar the medic who ran behind the house and counted his bandages. My left LMG squad put a pin on the bren carrier and squad, while the left assault troop ran into the extreme left building, receiving a pin from the ambushing Brits... The British officer team advanced up behind the Firefly, to assist the squad with 2 pins on my right.

Turn 3 I saw a lot of shooting from the British for little return, the sniper being missed as an AT shell went high and wide, and the pinned squad failing to unpin despite the exasperated orders of the 2nd Lt. My 3rd from left LMg squad put another pin on the bren carrier and squad, who decided to run out the carrier and into craters in the road between the factory and the houses. My 2nd left LMG squad ran into the middle house. While my 1st left LMG squad put a third pin on the bren carrier, which then failed its order and retreated. My MMG solo man repositioned behind the church ready to bring fire on the centre if needed. My medium mortar scored a hit, killing two men in the factory and forcing tem to advance and affecting their aim... The British squad in the park put another pin on my FJ's in house number 1.

The last two dice in turn 3 were left to me, for both assault squads, so I did what I like to do, prayed to the dice gods to smile on me for the next turn and ran the first squad out the house to the hedge, an inch from the British squad, while the other ran straight down the centre, with a 5 man Brit squad to their left, 8 men and piat team ahead and a Firefly to their right...

TURN 4      Started with the German Fallschirmjager assault troops ready to go in...

True to form, my tactical genius (or the luck of the draw) gave me the initiative, activating and advancing my central unpinned squad. 3 panzerfausts flew towards the flank of the Firefly, but their aim was off with only one scoring a glancing hit which stunned the crew. The remaining FJ's opened up on the 5 man squad and killed 3, the remainder surrendering on the spot.

However, that was later, as I got the second dice and went up and over at the rifle squad in the park, killing 4 British for the loss of two men, and a second enemy squad was removed. The light mortar scarpered back behind the carrier which put a pin on my men.

 The Brits in the ruin decided to make me pay, with the rifle squad, officer and artillery observer reducing my central assault to 3 men, thought the PIAT missed... On the right, without the tank to help and the officer diverted centrally, the squad n the hedgerows took two more pin from the BMW and the LMG squad behind the church. They went down and stayed down, badly suppressed. While the sniper missed the officer, the mortar got a lucky 6 to remove the artillery observer. The German officer and medic took charge of the British prisoner safely behind the houses, while the 3 LMG squads either in the houses or near them suppressed the British squad in the ruined factory.

The scene on the left was encouraging for the Germans...

Turn 5      With the dice pull in my favour, I decided to use the 3 remaining FJ's to assault the      British  officer who was too close to the sniper for him to deal with. I passed the test comfortably, but lost two men on the way in to Thompsons. Still the FJ NCO passed his morale, and took out the British officer and his mate, moving up afterwards. The Firefly crew, losing their officer close by and ears still ringing, failed to advance and retreated.

On my left, the assault squad moved into the street, two Panzerfausts obliterating the Bren Carrier while 3 smgs hosed down the light mortar...

The wounded NCO of my heroic centre squad didn't see the PIAT team that decapitated him...

Over on my right flank, the BMW added a fifth pin to the Tommies, The LMG squad ran forward confidently, ready to bag more prisoners.

Despite their losses, the Tommies in the factory stoically resisted, reducing the FJ's on my left down to 3 men. Seeing this, and realising they now held the upper hand, the three LMG squads ran out ready to seize the factory ruins...

TURN 6   The closest LMG squad took out a few Brits, who were infuriated, and promptly assaulted and wiped out the German squad. However, those that survived the hand to hand took another hail of LMG...

The brave NCO was easily overpowered by the FJ assault squad...

On the right, the close range fire of the LMG squad saw the English troops call it a day, being so heavily pinned and losing half their number. In a last act of spite, the Firefly left only the NCO standing from the German squad...

 Although the Firefly could not easily now be troubled, it didn't know that and with the only infantry left being the PIAT team skulking in the ruins avoiding FJ's, the game ended with a solid Axis victory, 9 dice to 2...

Hindsight:  Matthew didn't do much wrong, and the game was well balanced until turn 4 with neither side losing much til then (the Brit sniper I think was only unit out at end of turn 3). However, getting the first two dice allowed me to effectively take the Firefly out for two turns and take 15 infantry off the Brits for the loss of 2 of mine... I also had a lot of anti infantry firepower, which  the British couldnt combat due to the points invested in the Firefly..

If we lock horns again in the campaign, I'll run Heer against the Brits as regular v regular would be closer I feel. But it was a good game, and need to up my AT options next time out...