Last Sunday saw my British Desert Rats trying to push the Italian rear guard out of a few buildings...
The scenario was straight out of the IABSM III book and I will say that I am growing increasingly fond of this new edition. Specifically I like how things have been simplified. The artillery is probably the best example. It used to be almost impossible to start a shower of shells in our games, but in this game the artillery arrived almost immediately and all the complicated business was gone.
In this scenario the British had to race up and oust the Italians from a position in a build up area. Ideally we would have counted turns, but we forgot. The point of this would be to create a suspense and force the British to commit to a fast course - possibly sacrificing some men. Without turns the game would be a slow slugfest between armour and Italians without armour piercing equipment.
Here follows a brief description of the game:
The British deployed and approached the Italian position in column. Every turn saw another 'Blind' marker enter the field. In IABSM the initial position and movement of the troops is concealed using blinds to simulate the fog of war. We use the rule that vehicles moving will quickly reveal themselves though. Especially in the desert where large plumes of dust follow them.
The Brits sent forth their recce and quickly got a good idea of where the Italians were lodging. To our surprise the infantry did not seem to be capable of handling armoured vehicles in the new rules. This made the game a bit lop-sided as the Italians had to sit back and hold out rather than offer resistance.
The Italian MG's did have a small chance of harming the armour III humber scout cars. But they did not succeed.
Three crusaders started pummeling the buildings with HE. The armoured might would not yield the buildings by it self though... at some point infantry would have to enter.
The game was a stale affair as the Italians couldn't damage the British armour. They had an artillery battery in reserve and as it opened up we realised that not even this was going to break the tanks. Historically this is probably sound, but for the game it did not add much.
The Humbers and Stuarts sat in the same position firing at the buildings the whole game, punishing the Italians gravely.
The crusaders similarly put strain on the fascists.
To the other side of the main road an Italian platoon in the open was decimated...
As the game ended (due to time) the British had not managed to enter the buildings yet. The majority of the Italian control zone (the last 3rd of the table) was still in Italian hands which meant that it was a sound victory for the Italians.
We had actually forgotten to count turns which meant that the British was guaranteed to win as it was down to attrition and the Italians couldn't harm the tanks. Therefore we decided to make it time based and by the time limit the British were still not holding the control zone.
I have recently painted the Black Plague Zombies from Guillotine Games. I was one of the 'lucky' individuals who couldn't resist the kickstarter. ;-)
Click on the image to see a larger image.
As there are quite a lot of miniatures in the box(es) I decided to cut all the corners I could. I shall briefly describe my process here:
1) Black undercoat (GW spray). 2) Quick drybrush with various earth shades (Vallejo) to let the details stand out and give the miniatures some basic colour to work with. 3) Light drybrush with green grey (Vallejo). For some reason I find this colour adds a lot of 'zombie' to most other colours. 4) Skin painting: Khaki(Vallejo), flesh(Vallejo), skin wash(GW), flesh again(Vallejo), done.
5) Blood spatter and dirt sprinkling. Utilising a tootbrush the miniatures are sprinkled in various (darker) browns (GW inks... from 1999) and a bit of red ink (mix in a bit of brown - red looks too red). 6) Bases. While doing the bases make sure to stain the minis a little too - I add some good sploshes of diluted base-paint here and there to make it look like mud/dirt. I use DIY walll paint. 7) Eyes and teeth - I first paint them black with ink and then add a white dot for the dead eyes. The teeth are picked out in white. 8) Dusting up - The whole miniatures is given a very light drybrush with a sandy colours (Iraqui Sand for instance). 9) Tamiya clear red/smoke for extra blood. I like my zombies bloody and add this here and there ad libitum. Or ad nausea...
That is basically it. In essence this technique simply paints the skin of the miniatures and relies on 'weathering' to finish them.
I plan to use the miniatures for both Zombicide but also for Dragon Rampant. My regular enemy plays Dwarves, so I guess the size difference (these figures are close to 32mm) won't be as much of an issue.
I have been painting a few British desert war troops over the past few months and I have been looking forward to getting them in action.After getting my grubby little hands on I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! III from Two Fat Lardies it finally happened.
I must say that IABSM III is quite an improvement over the game I played in 2006-2007. The rules have been streamlined, there are force lists, scenarios and everything included and it even looks pretty. Gone is the pamphlet like editing and arrived has a proffesionally cut piece with graphics and all. If it weren't for the fact that I still print my books/PDF's, as I hate using iPads etc. it would be all great... but the heavily colourful pages put a bit off strain on the printer. :-D
Anyways, the daring British desert troopers would go up against the Forza Italia commanded and painted by Steen. Steen has been nudging me about when I got my British finished for quite some time, as it turned out I was a lot slower than hi.m... In the two years or so since we started the project he's managed to paint several companies while I've only just started.
Now Steen and I have played quite a bit of IABSM in the past and it has always been quite a joyful experience. We are both light on rules and enjoy a good mash up more than bogging down in the punctuation of particular rule and the impact said punctuation would have on the way a game plays.
We decided to try out the 'Hasty Defense' scenario straight out of the book. In this scenario the defenders (the British) get two platoons of defenders and will later be reinforced with an additional three platoons. The attackers get four platoons of their choice to quickly advance and knock out the initial defense. It seemed like a nice suitable scenario.
I chose the following:
1 MMG platoon
1 Light armour platoon consisting of 2 Stuarts and 2 Humber III
3 infantry platoons
3 infantry platoons
1 M41/14 tank platoon (5 vehicles)
On paper at least it would seem that the Italians had the edge initially. Just as it should be when attacking. Now added to this is the fact that the Italians get quite a few 'penalties' card wise. Their leaders are hesitant, their troops have poor fire discipline and ammo shortage and breakdowns are the order of the day.
I set up the MMGs on the left side of the British control zone and hoped that they could occupy whatever Steen would throw at them until reinforcements would arrive.
But actually I had more luck than I could have hoped for. Almost immediately the Poor Fire Discipline card came into play and Steen rolled a 2, meaning that the very eager Italians started firing their guns prematurely, thus revealing their position while they were making their way across open ground right in front of my MMGs! Honestly the timing could have been better/worse.
And here they stood being mowed down until they lost their bottle...
At the other end of the board all the Italian armoured might rolled forwards. We agreed that whenever armour/vehicles started moving they woud automatically reveal themselves. After all vast plumes of sand and dust would follow the noise of the machines... leaving little doubt as to what was coming over the horizon.
My Humbers were trying to fulfill their scouting role but it proved quite difficult. In fact they only managed to get out the defenses before the M41s were shooting them!
I quickly sent my Honeys to assist the Humbers and let them get back to safety. The ensuing pissing contest between the tanks resembled a pillow fight more than an actual battle... the hits were many but the measly guns of this era were incapable of making anything but dents.
The Humbers managed to get back in to cover unscathed.
The Italian commander put his platoon on 'Hunt' orders which meant that they would advance and shoot with +1 to hit every turn. After more than 20 twenty exchanges the score was 1-0 to the British.
The reinforcements finally started arriving. This completely turned the battle around for the British. The control zone was more or less unprotected but the arrival of the Indians meant that there was still a contest.
But the Indians managed more than to contest an area.. in fact they caught a platoon of Italians flatfooted in the open ground where they had been moving on a Blind marker.
The following firefight was not pretty. The Indians had superb cover and were unharmed. A freak luck of cards meant that the British were getting their cards before the Italians for several turns in a row. So effectively the Italian platoon was marooned in the open and being shot apart.
The Indian were exploiting the cover.
I think I realised that the battle was won at this point, so I started trying stuff just to see how the new rules worked. Therefore I launched an assault against the pulped Italians with one Indian section. Three rounds of fighting were fought before the Italians (two sections were within 4'') were beaten back. I am not sure if we handled the close combat as intended, but anyway - I think it worked quite well.
No Italians ever set foot within the walls of the compounds...
This was the closest they ever got. Testament to the British discipline and superior skills. :D