Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Force on Force - Bush Wars - Down on the Farm AAR - Fields of Honor - Fall 2012

This past weekend at Fields of Honor, I ran three games of the Down on the Farm scenario out of Ambush Alley's Bush Wars expansion.  This AAR covers all three games we played.

Everything set up and ready to go.  The deployment zone for the ZANLA was declared as 2' from the far edge relative to the picture to the right.  The civilian farmers started in the farmhouse and the guard force started in the small building on the bottom-left which is attached to the larger storage building.

As a house rule (based on historical accounts) we counted a -1 penalty for RPGs shooting through chain link fence.   It didn't have that much impact on the game since the ZANLA players moved nearly every round and the 1/2 firepower die due to night fighting resulted in 3 die firepower anyway.  It gave the fence more of a game impact and provided some motivation for the ZANLA to close in.

Friday - 1st game.

ZANLA deployed and have initiative.  They retained initiative throughout the game.
The left flank was first to reach the fence.  Neither of these two squads were spotted, nor could they spot any targets to engage so they rushed forward.
The right flank exchanged some rounds of fire with the farmhouse occupants, but no casualties were inflicted.  Throwing so few dice (3D6) into the farmers' stout defense (5D8) seemed a bit futile so they decided to move in closer.

Note that we ignored the 'In Cover' bonus dice as it would have just further made the Rhodesians even more untouchable.
Here are the six players plus one alternate who I said could run the police section if/when it showed up.  Six players is probably a few too many for this scenario since everyone only had one squad to run.  Fortunately nobody was wiped out early in the game partially thanks to the half firepower the night fighting rules imposed.
ZANLA units prepare to activate and surge forward.  Note that there are two squads in this group.  The small squad sized outlined in the scenario seems to be a significant issue in general and certainly will turn out to be for both  evening games.
The Rhodesian players placed their booby trap at the intersection of the four boards near the carport.  This happened to be right where the two ZANLA units crossed.  In the photo, the leading unit activated first and the farmers held off springing the trap until the second unit activated and was within the 4" blast radius.  Due to some poor rolling by the Rhodesian player and good rolling by the ZANLA player, not a single casualty was taken by either unit.
The ZANLA sneak under the cover of darkness around the Rhodesian right flank.  Both sides had significant problems with spotting each other to properly engage.
Unscathed by the blast, the trailing ZANLA unit takes cover in the carport building.  The other unit on this flank took fire from the farmers who were finally able to spot them.  Although not pinned, the ZANLA's return fire was ineffective against the well defended farmers.  Neither side rolled particularly well or poorly, but the statistics alone kept the small ZANLA squads from being effective.
Two ZANLA squads on the Rhodesian right flank prepare to rush towards the house.  I did warn the ZANLA players that their comrades had heard rumor of these farmers pulling out shotguns for close range.  They didn't listen...;)
As they closed, each squad took at least one casualty, but eventually got to within reduced optimum range fairly intact.

Once they reached the 4" optimum range of the farmers, the casualties began piling up.  One of the ZANLA units moved into the farmhouse for a close assault. 
The farmers quickly subdued them with their double-dice shotguns and managed to keep two prisoners.

Up to this point the player running the guard force unit held position partially due to failing several spot checks.  Seeing the ZANLA charging the house, they decided to move forward to take position in the carport.
 While the farmers held onto their right flank, the guard force made the move into close combat and quickly cleared the left flank of any opposition.

The police force eventually made their troop quality test, but by the time they did, the ZANLA were pretty much finished off so we called the game.

The ZANLA failed to inflict a single casualty on the Rhodesians.  This type of thing can happen in Force on Force, but this one was particularly dismal if playing on the ZANLA side.  Rolling so few dice on the attack due to the night fighting rules really made it tough on the D6 TQ troops who depend on making up for lack of quality with quantity...

Friday - 2nd game.

The second game was played by four players including myself.  Two of the others had played in the first game and we convinced another passer-by to join in as well.  The setup was the same and only planned on changing tactics to see if that helped matters any.  Running into the shotguns obviously didn't work well so the ZANLA players planned to hold back and shoot.

We probably should have kept the police force out of the equation, but they showed up on time and threw a monkey wrench into the ZANLA plan and took out one of the squads without much issue.
The ZANLA players contemplate their strategy as the guard force takes up residence in the carport.  Attrition, mostly due to the Rhodesians rolling a few 7&8s on the attack die, prevented yet another ZANLA attack from being successful.  We kept playing for awhile, but I didn't take many photos as all positions were fairly static.  Different tactics, same end result.  The ZANLA units definitely seemed too small to be effective. 

The player who was the alternate was able to get into the game the next day which also turned out to be full.

The setup was exactly the same, but I modified the scenario by adding two more figures to each ZANLA unit, reduced the farmhouse from 2D cover to 1D cover, and removed the support weapon from the police force.

The guard force immediately moved from the storage buildings into the carport.

The ZANLA forces moved towards the fence after several spotting failures.  Hardly a shot was fired the first four turns due to spotting failures, but one of the farmers did suffer a serious wound.

Again, the Rhodesian players declared the booby trap to be in the same location and the ZANLA unit on the left flank happened to walk right over it.  This time they weren't so lucky and sustained casualties, failed morale, and proved to be mostly ineffective the rest of the game.  The booby trap definitely turned out to be effective.

The police section showed up on time and made an entrance at the rear flank of the ZANLA.  They had their own share of failed spot checks due to the darkness and therefore needed a few turns to get up into the action.
The two large units of ZANLA on the Rhodesian right flank were able to seriously wound or kill two of the remaining three farmers as well as inflict a casualty on the only one which remained.  They quickly moved into the house and happened to take the farmer as a POW. 
The police force moved into the compound, but found there to be overwhelming firepower coming from the house as well as the other mostly intact squad in the open area nearby.  Although several casualties were inflicted by both sides at this point, most of them turned out to be light wounds.
Eventually the police section got pinned and all four members went down.  As the ZANLA prepared to rush forward and kill or take prisoner any that survived, the guard force made their reaction test and rushed forward intercepting the movement and inflicting a casualty on the advancing ZANLA unit. 
With the guard force in close proximity, the police section was able to test for first aid rather than wallow on the ground waiting for someone to help them.  Unfortunately, the concentrated fire of the ZANLA units occupying the house was able to seriously wound most of the remaining Rhodesian forces leaving only two guard force and two police section left standing.
The Rhodesian survivors decided to make a hasty retreat through their very own gates.  The ZANLA troops from within the house followed with hostage in tow.
After a couple successful spots and rounds of fire, the Rhodesian survivors were taken down to two.

Stuck in place due to serious wounds, the ZANLA caught up to within close range and finished off both survivors.

Through most of the game it felt like the Rhodesians had their work cut out for them, but with a good set of rolls could get them on top at any time.  Those rolls never came and the ZANLA enjoyed a landslide victory.  Although I perhaps tweaked the scenario a bit too much, this game appeared to be much more enjoyable by all involved.  Next time I'll probably leave the police section as-is and add back in the 2D cover for the house.  The only tweaks would then be adding two more to each squad plus another random support weapon or two. 

Overall I found this to be an excellent scenario other than the need to tweak the ZANLA unit size.  It was a lot of fun to make the terrain pieces and see them in use.

Has anyone else ran/played this scenario as-written?  If so, please comment below on your experiences with it and if any tactics have been found to give the ZANLA a chance of coming close to winning.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

TAG African Modern Militia 28mm Figures

I found The Assault Group's Modern Militia 28mm Figures to be an excellent fit for Ambush Alley's "Down on the Farm"  scenario from the Bush Wars Force on Force expansion.  They are properly armed according to what the scenario has laid out and fit well with the figures I have from Eureka that will be used along side these.

Rhodesian Guard Force - armed with Lee Enfield rifles - front

Rhodesian Guard Force - armed with Lee Enfield rifles - back

Rhodesian Civilian Farmers - armed with shotguns - front

Farmers - armed with shotguns - back

The pose of the guy on the left is really neat - looks like he is getting ready to look from around a corner or peek out a window.

I'm really pleased with these sculpts and will definitely keep TAG in mind in the future.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fields of Honor Rhodesian Test Board Layout

Lots of photos to share in this update.  Most everything is done for the convention and the photos below show the tentative board layout planned for Fields of Honor coming up this weekend.  There are actually two more boards planned that would fill in the driveway to take place of the two regular landscape boards that I'll be using instead.  The additional road boards were cut from the plan partially due to time constraints and mostly due to the worn thin patience of my wife.  I guess I don't blame her since I've pretty much been working on building terrain non-stop every evening for the past couple months.  Anyway, what has been built turned out pretty decent and hopefully it will be fun to play on.  Enough preamble, here are the photos.

Overview of the farm compound
Overview of the board layout

View from between the storage buildings to the house

Night shot.

View of the chain link fence.

Storage building attached to office/machine shed

Side of the carport

Front of the house through the barb wire topped chain link fence

Front gates

Side door

Storage buildings

Back of one of the storage buildings next to a burn pit

Approaching the compound from the front gates

The 28mm miniatures to be used for the planned scenario have also been painted and just await their final seal.  I'll try to get them photographed and posted sometime soon.

Additional photos with outdoor natural lighting will be added when I get the chance as well.  The better lighting will be good to show the details of the individual pieces. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Storage Buildings - WIP

Yet another side-track project has been lurking along with the other projects.  These storage buildings were actually the first of this brick-pressing method that I cast.  They have been a hidden prototype that I've been worked on in parallel to the other projects.  I just haven't been taking any pictures of them.

The roof sections were actually the last pieces to be made as they were something I had done before and was already comfortable with working the tin.  The walls of the buildings still need some additional weathering, but otherwise are fairly complete.  Below is the first (and only at this point) photo of the framed up roofs.

As with the other buildings I've been making lately, this one is also based off of an actual structure over in Africa.  Unfortunately, the owner of the photo I had in mind requires a license fee to show the photo directly.  His work is definitely deserving of pay - it just doesn't work in my hobby budget.  It is a pity as Robin Hammond has some really spectacular photos and it would have been nice to show his work inline with this post.  Hopefully this remote link to the photo doesn't suddenly break as these things tend to do on the internet...  Anyway, the photo is from the recent and ongoing struggle between the farmers in Zimbabwe and their government.

Some progress was made on the farmhouse, carport, and fence sections over the weekend as well, but I didn't manage to take any photos.  Lots of things are coming together, but there are also still lots of details to finish up before the convention in less than two weeks.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Farmhouse Project WIP - Update 11 - Painting and Mortar

Lots of photos for this update.  Painting is pretty much complete.  As with the car port, I mixed the Slate and Titanium White Earth Pigments (2-3 parts slate to 1 part white) to be used as the mortar.  A little variation in the mortar color probably isn't a bad thing so I didn't used a measuring spoon to get an exact measure.  Given the inexact method of mixing mortar on the ground and measuring things 'by the wheelbarrow full' as we did in Zambia, my approximations here are on par.  I did, however, mix a big enough batch to at least finish the house so the color will be consistent on this project.  It turns out this mix was a little too white so I ended up giving the house a dusting of Natural Umber (not pictured) to tone down the white a bit. 

Here are a few shots of the house pre-mortar:

Here things are post-mortar:

The 'glass' for the windows was installed as well.  I did end up just using transparency sheet (which can be purchased from the FedEx Office shops by the sheet) and cutting it to the right size to cover the entire window frame.  Cutting individual panes would be a pain so I opted for this shortcut to save what is left of my sanity.

Here is a series of photos with the windows and doors sitting in the holes.  They aren't glued yet because the house still needs a final coat of Liquitex Matte Varnish.


The doors still need handles, but otherwise are ready for installation.

By the way, there is a such thing as too much gloss varnish when applying it to make the removal of excess weathering powder.  I got carried away with it on the house even after practicing which made it difficult in places to get any mortar at all to stick.  Overall I think it turned out, but it took way too long to get it to this stage (compared to the car port which was fairly quick & easy).
Looking back at the photos above, I can hardly tell there is 'glass' in the panes.  That is probably due to the abysmal lighting in the basement where the workshop is.  In better lighting there should be some glare and/or reflection.  This should be especially the case when the roof is put on making it dark inside the building.

The covers that go above some of the windows still need to be worked on and the windows/doors need to be glued in place - some of which may need a little filler to take care of some small gaps.  The base needs a little flock and I'd really like to add the Rhodesian Boiler, but it will have to go in the 'details if there is time' list.  There are still several fence boards, a board of three storage buildings, and hopefully a driveway board to work on.  Bits of all of them have been started, but there is still a lot left to do on them in the next three weeks...