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German Infantry for Poland to Barbarossa

German Infantry for Poland to Barbarossa

Now this is part of a big project I have been working on since last fall. A complete German army for use with the Battlegroup rules for the period from the invasion of Poland (Fall Weiß) up until the first months of the invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa). Given that this would also make them suitable for the invasions of Denmark and Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and France and Greece, this will make them extremely versatile. That being said, this will also make them a huge project, since except for a couple of PzKW 38(t) and PzKw IV I have nothing suitable for it. This will mean, that I need command units, an Infantry platoon (there were extremely large for the invasion of Poland) with both truck and half-track transport options, a Kradschützenzug (motorcycle platoon), PzKw I, PzKw II (in two different versions), at-guns, artillery, specialist vehicles and aircraft. With such a daunting project you have to start somewhere. For me this was actually the Kradschützen, but since only the soldiers are finished but not the motorcycles, my second step will be the first shown to you… the infantry platoon (still without their transports). For these photos I have arranged them according to the TO&E that was in effect during the invasion of Poland. For later operations, some of these subunits would have been bigger or smaller, but there is enough models for all possible TO&Es. I would only have to rearrange some minis.

All these minis are by Warlord Games. Most of them plastics (some of them slightly converted) and a few metal ones mixed in.

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa infantry command

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa infantry command

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa medic

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa medic

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa light mortar team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa light mortar team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa light mortar team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa light mortar team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa spotter team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa spotter team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa spotter team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa spotter team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa sniper team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa sniper team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

The LMG team above is my personal favorite from this platoon. Most likely, since I converted it to look like this. I always loved the looks of the LMG being fired over the assistants shoulder from a kneeling position. Since there was no such model available, I had to build one myself. What I found very funny is, that the assistant is actually a running pose, but it turned out, this was the easiest to convert into a kneeling position.

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa MG32 team

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa rifle squad

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa rifle squad

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa rifle squad

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa rifle squad

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa rifle squad

Blitzkrieg to Barbarossa rifle squad

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A handful of StuGs and a StuH

A handful of StuGs and a StuH

One of me favorite German vehicles of World War II has been the Sturmgeschütz. Lots of punch, good armor, low profile and usually cheap to get. So a battery of StuGs was a must. I already had a G model with Saukopfblende from Tamiya, so when I decided to do a full battery I only ordered two more. But when I started painting them, I decided, that I would rather like all models in the battery to be the same. So I already have a third that I have not painted yet.

The models are by Blitzkrieg Models. I weathered them like the Jagdpanther and PaK shown the previous days. I added some converted plastic Warlord Miniatures German infantry as crew.

StuH 42

StuH 42

And while I was on it, I also painted a Sturmhaubitze. This one is also from Blitzkrieg, with a Warlord commander and weathered the same way. But I chose a slightly different camo pattern for this one.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2018 in Battlegroup, Rules, WWII, WWII: Germans

 

Some Vikings and a Norman Warlord for SAGA

Some Vikings and a Norman Warlord for SAGA

With the second Edition of SAGA, I had to make some changes to my Vikings. I have always played them with Jomsviking mercenaries (Jarl Sigvaldi and is Jomsvikings) and heavy on Hearthguards.

With the former now costing one point instead of two under the first edition, this means, that I will now have one more point available. So this meant I had to paint another point.

Shield Maidens

Shield Maidens

So I painted 4 Shield Maidens to use as Hearthguards. These models are by Stronghold Terrain here in Germany. And they are really nice. I decided to paint them with varied coloured clothing, as I did with all my previous Vikings. But, while I do know that it is far from historically correct, I decided to nod my head at the TV show Vikings and gave them the same shield design as Lagarthas Shield Maidens from the show. The minis themselves are really nice, but I really struggled with their faces.

Rollo

Rollo

Rollo

Rollo

Now with SAGA 2.0 playing any faction so heavy on the Hearthguards like I did might not be a wise idea. So I am thinking of amalgamating two points of my plastic Gripping Beast Hearthguards into one point of Warriors. For this I will need another 4 minis. Having a few Berserkers lying around, I decided that this would be a point for Berserkers. This Rollo, also from Stronghold, was originally bought to be part of a Warlord base with his brother Ragnar, Lagartha and Floki. But while those three come in poses that rather look like they are surveying the battlefield, he looks more combative. With Stronghold also having released a minis of Björn, I decided to base him individually as par of a unit instead. I like this mini for its face. It looks a lot like the actor who plays Rollo in the TV show. Unfortunately, the pose is a little awkward.

Norman Warlord

Norman Warlord

Norman Warlord

Norman Warlord

And last is a Warlord for my Normans. The mini is also from Stronghold and a really nice one at that (if you disregard the depression in the shield toward the head of the mini). The big letdown though is the way it is meant to be mounted onto the base. The two hooves touching the ground have round taps coming out of them. This would be great for the old Games Workshop cavalry bases, but is a nightmare with the thin bases commonly used with SAGA. So I had to build up Green Stuff around these taps and later blend them in with the rest of the base.

I wanted him to look like a leader from the time of the Norman invasion of England. So I chose a shield design that is a nod towards their origins in Normandy and painted a Fleur de lis onto the shield.

 

8,8cm PaK 43 auf Kreuzlafette

Playing late war games in a World War II setting, especially on the eastern front large-caliber Panzerabwehrkanonen (PaK / anti-tank gun) are a must to give you some edge over the heavily armoured tanks like the JS-2. The long-barreled PaK 43, both on a Spreiz- and Kreuzlafette are perfect for this.

8,8cm PaK 43 (Kreuzlafette)

8,8cm PaK 43 (Kreuzlafette)

Playing in 1:48th scale, the later is not too easy to get. But some years ago, I had the good luck to get my hands on the, now long OOP, Verlinden model. It is a very nice model, but even by modeling standards it is not an easy model to build. So I had to make some modifications to the connections between the gun and the shield to make it work out and stand the rigors of game play. But even that way, it will better be picked up by its base and not the model itself. Fortunately I have decided to base all my future AT-guns and indeed put all my old ones on bases for Battlegroup, so that will not be much of a problem.

8,8cm PaK 43 (Kreuzlafette)

8,8cm PaK 43 (Kreuzlafette)

Like the Jagdpanther, this was a testbed for the new weathering methods and I have to say… I feel it turned out exceptionally well on this model.

The crew itself is the 8,8cm FlaK crew by Warlord. It is a bit small even for their own 1:56th scale models, but I feel it still looks OK. While the gun was painted this winter, the crew was done about 15 years ago. I only redid the skin on the minis. I think that is where my technique changed the most during that time and I wanted them to blend in with my current models.

8,8cm PaK 43 (Kreuzlafette)

8,8cm PaK 43 (Kreuzlafette)

 

Battlegroup objective markers

Battlegroup objective markers

Ok, so let’s get the party started. For those of you playing Battlegroup, you will know that many scenarios require objective markers. Usually something between one and four. So far I did three for Berlin or other late war urban settings. Obviously that is too few even for that setting. So one more was needed. And while I was on it, I did a few more.

Battlegroup objektive marker

Battlegroup objektive marker (Fall of the Reich)

Battlegroup objektive marker (image edited to comply with German law)

Battlegroup objektive marker (Fall of the Reich) (image edited to comply with German law)

Up first is another one for Fall of the Reich. When Germany went about conquering virtually all of Europe as well as large parts of Russia and North Africa, they looted whatever they could, including many acheological artefacts.  When the Allies entered Germany, the Nazi high ups wanted to move many of these items out of the way, preferably into their own private collections. And I wanted one of these items, that could not be moved fast enough.

In this case I simply took an Egyptian artefact from Crocodile Games Wargods of Ægyptus range and placed it inside a wooden crate (build from plasticard) and added a helmet and G-43 from a Tamiya 1:48 scale infantry set.

Battlegroup objektive markers

Battlegroup objektive markers

From left to right these are a wayside cross (1:48th scale scenery item), an Western Allies fuel dump (barrels and jerry can from a 1:48th scale Tamiya accessory set with the Tommy Gun being from Warlord Games) and a simple tattered scare crow (matchsticks and tissue paper soaked in white glue).

Battlegroup objektive markers

Battlegroup objektive marker (Spring to fall)

And another three ammo or fuel dumps. Again, weapons are from Warlord Games and the rest is Tamiya 1:48th scale.

I tried to keep everything on the two photos as generic a possible. Only the two German fuel dumps are painted for an early and mid to late war period. But all in all, there are two markers (cross and scarecrow) that could be used virtually everywhere in Europe or Russia for any period of the war. With the those two and a mix of a German objective and an allied one (depending on the opposition) I will always have at least four options.

Battlegroup objective markers

Battlegroup objective markers (Winter)

And last a few for winter settings. Left to right these are a snowman (sculpted from Greenstuff with snow flock added after painting), a “V” that someone peed into the snow, a stack of barrels and a jerry can covered by a tarpaulin and snow (again Tamiya items and white glue soaked tissue paper) and a simply scare crow (done like the one above). Now I have to admit, that these are kind of a reserve, for right now these are my only winter scenery items.

All of these were done last winter.

 

Pegasus Bridge, a Horsa Glider and other things

Pegasus Bridge, a Horsa Glider and other things

As you may know, we wanted to host Pegasus Bridge at Crisis in Antwerp this year (and eventually we did so). Between the three of us we already had a lot of buildings, hedges and so on. But this still required some more terrain.

Not many buildings for the vicinity of the bridge were required, but I wanted some more variation. Since I still had the château from Sarissa Precission around, so that seemed like the natural option. It had been a nice kit to assemble and was a nice kit to paint. If I was to do it again though, I would probably leave the first floor windows and shutters off for easier painting.

French Chateau

French Château

French Chateau

French Château

But we also needed a Horsa Glider for the game. Martin had a model by Grand Manner around. Martin was unsure if he could give it due credit, so I painted it up. I Ieft the landing gear off to me the model fit the scenario since the Gliders used for the attack on Pegasus Bridge all had rough landings and ripped their landing gears off. It was nice enough to airbrush up, but I think the dimensions are somewhat off. The lower hull and underside of the wings were painted in a dark green, the top in camouflage. So I started by doing the camo and then taped the edge off. Which is when I realised that something was amiss. For example I used the forward doors and tail wings as a guide, but under the main wings the lines ended up too low. But I felt this was acceptable, since people could hardly see this spot. So the lower half of the glider was painted in dark green and filters and washes applied. Now I taped off the invasion stripes and again, I noticed that something was not quite right, for there was too little space on tail. In the end the RAF roundels on the tail ended up overlapping the invasion stripes for that reason. To finish things off, I placed chalk markings on the flank saying “Lady Irene” to make it match the glider Major Howard landed in.

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

Horsa Glider

And up last, the most importer building for the game… the bridge itself. Again this was a Sarissa kit. I had been too lazy to assemble the model, so I bought a model that had already been build and sold my kit on. In retrospect, this did not make things that much easier, since it had not been assembled as clean as I would have done, so I had to do a lot of sanding and so on.

I wanted to keep it in the very light grey of the original, but in the end, this seemed a little bleak to me. So I added rust marks to the model, which gave it a lot more character.

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge

If you want to see some more detail shots of the bridge, those can be found in my post about the British Paras.

In the, it turned out to be quite a nice game. We used the Battlegroup Overlord rules and they worked very well even at this small size. It was especially interesting to see how different tactics played out. If the British went for a defense in depth, it usually went well for the Germans, since they could usually wipe out the British first line of defense (after stumbling into it) and then using the superior range of their SP gun(s) (,depending on how many survived the PIAT,) to destroy the rest. If the British went for a strong first line of defense, the Germans were too weak to protect their SP guns sufficiently and took too many loses to take the bridge. It will be interesting to see how future games play out.

So I am leaving you with a (very) few pictures from the game at Crisis.

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge table

Pegasus Bridge game

Pegasus Bridge game

Pegasus Bridge game

Pegasus Bridge game

Pegasus Bridge

Pegasus Bridge table

 

 

And another game of Fall of the Reich

And another game of Fall of the Reich

So I am still catching up. This time it is another game of Fall of the Reich. This one was played during the first fine week (weather wise) of the year, so we could actually play outside. But even though this one has not been so long ago, my memory is even less precise than the previous one. I can remember, that the American fox consisted mainly of Shermans and infantry in M3´s, while the German force was mainly PzKw IV´s.

The beginning was not too good for the Germans. One PzKw IV was damaged right at the beginning another one blown up by the allied artillery. The Germans tried to repair the former, but failed, so it was two losses right at the beginning. So things did not look too well, but once the Americans got closer, the tables turned and the Germans could make good use of their position behind the railroad embankment. It became a real turkey shoot and in the end the American broke and the game was over. Unfortunately this is the best AAR I can come up with. Sorry! So I hope the pictures tell a good story instead.

Table seen from the American side

Table seen from the American side

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

Waiting for the enemy

Waiting for the enemy

Bergepanther trying to repair a PzKw IV

Bergepanther trying to repair a PzKw IV

American advance

American advance

American armour in the village

American armour in the village

American halftrack

American halftrack

German defensive position

German defensive position

76mm Sherman on the attack

76mm Sherman on the attack

Hull down PzKw IV

Hull down PzKw IV

SS HMG team

SS HMG team

 

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich Christmas game

Battlegroup Fall of the Reich Christmas game

“Wait?” you will shout… “Christmas game… it is only October!” And rightly so! But, as I have had to say so many times this year, I seem to have huge problems keeping this blog up to date. So, here it is, almost 10 months late:

Between Christmas and New Years last year Julian, Martin and I met up for a little game of Battlegroup Fall of the Reich. Please do not ask for the exact composition of the forces… it has been a while. But if I remember correctly, the Americans had a mix of truck and jeep mounted infantry, M10´s, Shermans and Greyhounds (the burning Stuart was scenery). The Germans were a rag-tag bunch of Panzergrenadiere, a Volkssturm platoon, two Hetzer, a Hornisse, a Luchs, a SdKfz. 251/22 and a SdKfz. 250/9. Both sides had some off-board artillery.

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the German side

Table seen from the American side

Table seen from the American side

We rolled to see who would play which side and Martin got the Americans and Julian and I the Germans. We were playing the Road Block scenario and the Americans were allowed to set up the majority of their forces as far as the river. Martin put the armoured command car on he bridge with the M10s, some of the truck mounted infantry and a Dozer Sherman behind them. The Greyhounds were allowed to deploy on the German side of the bridge.

The German Volkssturm was dispersed throughout the village and one of the fields on the flank. The Panzergrenadiere and Hetzer were hiding inside the village, while the Hornisse was waiting at the edge of the village with the bridge in sight. We took a slight risk as the German players, by not putting any scout units on the table, which meant we would start the game by drawing a chit. In retrospect this was the best decision we could make, since we drew a breakdown counter, which we played on the armoured command car on the bridge, which got an immobilized result. So Martin had to start shuffling vehicles around to get the Dozer in position.

Things are about to get tough

Things are about to get tough

But while he was doing so, the Germans called in some artillery on the bridge, which took out the command car for good and set the M10 ablaze. So when the Dozer arrived, it had to start by pushing the tank destroyer aside.

American starting positions

Getting the other vehicles out of the way for the dozer

Getting the M10 out of the way

Getting the M10 out of the way

But this was not the only problem for the Americans. when it was clear, that the bridge would be blocked for the foreseeable future, the Greyhounds chose to dash into the village to hide. Which proved to be a bad decision, since the lead Greyhound drove past one of the buildings where the Volkssturm was hiding. A Panzerfaust into the rear was a reward, after which it blew up.

American armour burning

American armour burning

First moves inside the village

First moves inside the village

All in all it took the dozer three turns to even get into position to try to clear the command car off the bridge. During that time the came under constant German artillery fire. To minimise their losses, the American infantry dismounted to disperse and get across the bridge.

Sherman Dozer about to clear the bridge

Sherman Dozer about to clear the bridge

American Infantry pushing across the bridge

American Infantry pushing across the bridge

But while doing so, the American infantry became pinned by fire from the Volkssturm in the fields.

Volkssturm firing at the American infantry across the river

Volkssturm firing at the American infantry across the river

And to make matters worse, by now the remaining German armour had arrived on the table and were taking up positions to counter any American moves off the bridge.

German halftracks staging inside the village

German halftracks staging inside the village

Getting into position

Getting into position

Luchs and Hetzer securing the flank

Luchs and Hetzer securing the flank

With the bridge cleared, the Americans finally managed to get their own spotters to a place where they could actually call in effective artillery fire on the German spotters killing them, but it was too little, too late. By now the Germans were in positions where they could target anything moving across the bridge from three sides.

Hetzer moving to the front

Hetzer moving to the front

By now the American force was close to breaking to breaking anyway. And when the Dozer started to push the command car, i was hit by an eighty-eight shell from the Hornisse.

Turkey shoot

Turkey shoot

At this point no coordinated push would have been possible anymore and the Americans withdrew.

 

8 Points of Spanish for SAGA

8 Points of Spanish for SAGA

So it is supposedly summer here in Europe, so I wanted to take photos of my Spanish for SAGA outside. Well two weeks of almost constant rain and thunderstorms later I finally found one sunny day and was able to do so.

First of all a few general comments on these minis. Some time after the 2015 German Grand Melee I had decided I wanted Crescent & Cross army for SAGa as well. The one that intrigued me the most were the Spanish. Their style of play seemed vastly different from what I already had and they seemed to be rare as hens teeth (I usually y do not like playing what everyone else plays). So they were ordered and that is where things got a bit of track. Back in fall Gripping Beast was unable to deliver the Warriors both mounted and on foot to my German dealer of choice. So all I got was one point of Levies, three points of Hearthguards and the Warlord. Not wanting to paint an incomplete army, I let them rest on the lead mountain for a while. Then during the winter, I decided to start with my Anglo Saxons, which got finished just in time for the tournament at Klingencon as you know. That left me only about eight weeks to get the Spanish done in time for this years Grand Melee and I still did not have any Warriors. And what I had was not cleaned or primed or anything. At least my dealer got back to me with the good news that he had secured those Warriors for me. Unfortunately his packaging service messed that order up and what I got was two Welsh and two Viking starters each.About a month before this year Grand Melee they finally arrived, too. All in all I painted 57 minis, 29 of them mounted, in about 7½ weeks and that is besides my day job. Timing was pretty tight and in the end I put the flock on the bases 2200h the day before the Grand Melee. All in all this meant about a third of the average number of minis I usually paint per year were done in two months time. Add to that the 51 Anglo-Saxons and Monks painted right before these Spanish, I can say, that I am now content with painting any medical minis for this year!

SAGA Spanish Warband (8 pts.)

SAGA Spanish Warband (8 pts.)

Well enough of my ramblings, let’s get to the minis. I will show them in the order in which they were painted. All minis are by Gripping Beast. I have to say the minis were a bit of a mixed bag over all. The casting on the horses was abysmal. At times it felt more like carving new horses out of a block of lead than cleaning away flash. Otherwise the castings were OK. Animation was good, but the faces were a bit hit and miss. The mounted Warriors had great expressions, their brothers on foot were quite poor. The rest was in between.

Up first I painted the Levies with Crossbows. The minis were quite nice and far better than the Norman Crossbows. I would have wished for a little more variety (there are “only” four different poses in the pack), but even that did not stand out too much, as those four poses are quite different. I went a little more adventurous here and gave two of them black skin. Not sure why. I guess I imagined them as Moorish prisoners of war who had switched sides or had been press ganged into fighting for the Iberians.

SAGA Spanish (Levies)

SAGA Spanish (Levies)

SAGA Spanish (Levies)

SAGA Spanish (Levies)

SAGA Spanish (Levies)

SAGA Spanish (Levies)

Up next came the Hearthguards. What I really liked about these was the variety I got, for all twelve riders are different (maybe that is what I was a little disappointed with the Levies). For their spears I tried something new. They are no brass like the ones I usually use, but bristles from a nylon broom, cut to length with flattened and shaped tips. And I am quite happy with that experiment. They are flexible so the do not break off as easy, do not hurt if you touch them, are much cheaper (I got a set of roughly 400 at Aldi for 3,50 Euro ;-)) and the paint sticks well. Although when it comes to the paint sticking… I used a broom that had been in use a couple of years (which was actually replaced with the Aldi one), so the bristles were  sanded, which might improve paint adherence. In the end I used this type of spears for all my Spanish with spears or javelins.

For the shields I used transfers from LBMS. I had hoped, that this would actually reduce the time spend on them, but I was slightly wrong there. The way the shields are sculpted, they are covered by painted hide, drawn over the rim and nailed to the back. So not quick fix like painting the rim in metal. So I had to continue the pattern over the rim and onto the back, which was a paint with those checkerboard patterns. Also the transfers have 3 slightly different shades of yellow, so that was hard to match.

SAGA Spanish (Hearthguards)

SAGA Spanish (Hearthguards)

SAGA Spanish (Hearthguards)

SAGA Spanish (Hearthguards)

SAGA Spanish (Hearthguards)

SAGA Spanish (Hearthguards)

So with me still waiting for the Warriors, I tackled the Warlord. Not much to say about him, except that I went for finer fabrics on his clothes than I did with the others. And the yellow for the shield failed me. The paint was a little too thick which unfortunately left make on the shield face.

SAGA Spanish (Warlord)

SAGA Spanish (Warlord)

SAGA Spanish (Warlord)

SAGA Spanish (Warlord)

SAGA Spanish (Warlord)

SAGA Spanish (Warlord)

SAGA Spanish (Warlord)

SAGA Spanish (Warlord)

SAGA Spanish (Warlord)

SAGA Spanish (Warlord)

So now my Warriors had finally arrived and the mad rush to clean and paint them begun. I went for the ones on foot first. For one I figured that these would be superior to their mounted version in the second game of the tournament. And second… well should i have run out of time completely, I could have gotten away with just painting the riders and ripping my Byzantines off their horses mounting the Iberians on the Byzantine horses. Fortunately it did not come to that.

The tear shaped shields on the majority of these Warriors crossed my best laid plans for the transfers, as all the LBMS transfers are round and I had to handpaint most of them after all.

SAGA Spanish (Warriors on foot)

SAGA Spanish (Warriors on foot)

SAGA Spanish (Warriors on foot)

SAGA Spanish (Warriors on foot)

SAGA Spanish (Warriors on foot)

SAGA Spanish (Warriors on foot)

SAGA Spanish (Warriors on foot)

SAGA Spanish (Warriors on foot)

And last came the mounted Warriors. Not much to say about these, as they are quite straight forward. I only removed the hassles off some of the shields, so I could use the transfers for them.

SAGA Spanish (mounted Warriors)

SAGA Spanish (mounted Warriors)

SAGA Spanish (mounted Warriors)

SAGA Spanish (mounted Warriors)

SAGA Spanish (mounted Warriors)

SAGA Spanish (mounted Warriors)

SAGA Spanish (mounted Warriors)

SAGA Spanish (mounted Warriors)

And this is it… a massive 8 point army. But I will probably add another point to it in the future, since I also want some Levies with spears, in case I ever have to play a scenario in a tournament where crossbows are useless due to a range reduction.

SAGA Spanish Warband (8 pts.)

SAGA Spanish Warband (8 pts.)

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2016 in Medival, SAGA, Spanish

 

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016 AAR

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016 AAR

I know some might have wondered, if this blog was dead, but no it is not. The reason for the lack of posts in recent weeks was the upcoming SAGA Grand Melee here in Germany. Or more precisely the mad idea to paint up a completely new army for it in the roughly seven weeks leading up to the event. Lets just say my Spanish got finished the night before the event, but that is something for the next post here.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

So we were back at Oerlinghausen here in Germany, playing in the Saxon Longhouse and under the gaze of the Anglo-Saxon gods. This time my friend Martin accompanied me (he had been sick last year). My plan was not to finish worse than last year (5th place) which was a tall aim, to be fair, since I was completely unused to the Spanish, having played only one game with proxy miniatures with them and that was one of the more obscure scenarios from the Grand Melee, that did not allow to learn the army too well.

My army consisted of a mounted Warlord, three points of Heathguards (mounted), two points of Warriors (with miniatures for both the foot and mounted options) and one point of levies with crossbows.

Game 1 (Holy Ground) vs. Mutatawwi´a 

Now I knew from the beginning, that this would be a very tough game. My opponent was Erik who was also my last opponent at Remscheid roughly two months earlier. Therefore I knew that he was a very experienced player, who knows the Mutatawwi´a inside out and plays them with great skills. His army consisted of a camel mounted Warlord, two points of Heathguards on camels fielded as two units of four and four points of Warriors. The later were fielded as two units with close combat weapons (one eight men strong, the other twelve men strong) and a twelve men strong unit of bowmen with a banner.

I did not want to offer his camels too many mounted troops, so my warriors were deployed as two foot units of eight. My Hearthguards were deployed as one unit of eight and one of four.

I started to play and things went down the drain from the first moment. I think I was still a bit drained from he previous weeks painting spree, for I forgot that one cannot score victory points on turn one. So my horsemen rode up the central hill without any need for them to do so. As a result one of his camel mounted units crashed into my large units of horsemen and with a combination of various Mutatawwi´a SAGA abilities both units were annihilated (with a net loss of four Heathguards for me). I also had to find that one of my best SAGA abilities (Reconquista) does not work against Mutatawii´a, since its effect is determined by the number of SAGa dice the opponent has on his board at the end of the orders phase, while Mutatawii´a generate extra SAGA dice after the orders phase.

My counter attacks the next turn did not go well, due to bad dice rolling. But when Erik got to act, he wiped out my other unit of Hearthguards and one unit of warriors for hardly any losses of his own. Victory points at the end of this turn were 8 to 4 in Eriks favor and when the next turn saw me lose my other unit of Warriors, I decided to capitulate. At first Erik did not want to accept (he wanted more kill points for a possible tie breaker at the end of the tournament), but when we explained, that only the quality (= final standings) of the opponents would decide any tie-breakers, he agreed to cut my suffering short.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

Game 2 (Champions of god) vs. Mutatawii´a

This scenario was modified for the tournament. Ranged weapons would only be able to fire “S” distance. Mounted units would only be allowed to move “M”, unless they risked a taking a fatigue on a roll of “1” or “2”. This time I would play my mate Martin. He played his troops with a camel mounted Warlord, one point of horse mounted Hearthguards, two points of camel mounted Hearthguards and three pints of Warriors with close combat weapons. They were all fielded like that.

My army looked the same as it did during the previous game, except that my Levies were armed with javelins this time (I did not have appropriate minis, but Martin did not mind). To be honest, the game was a bit boring. I had already played a couple of games vs. Martin using his Mutatawii´a, so I knew by hard how he would play them. So I was able to make good use of my Iberia ability to keep my Hearthguards out of most critical situations. We both did not roll too well during the whole game, but Martin managed to roll even worse than me. After Martins last activation of the last turn I was 7 ½ points in the lead and decided not to do anything on my turn, not wanting to risk that lead and just bag the win.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

Game 3 (Hurry [from the Gripping Beast forum]) vs. Anglo-Saxons

My opponent for this game  was Jens and his Anglo-Saxons were led by a mounted Warlord plus a Priest to grant him extra SAGA dice. All his other troops were on foot and consisted of three points of Warriors (amalgamated into two units of twelve) and two points of Levies.

My Levies were armed with crossbows again, but this time only four Warriors would fight on foot, with the other twelve fighting mounted. This is also the way I would play my army for the rest of the tournament.

Jens put his barrel inside a wood in one of this corners protected by one unit of Levies and the priest. My barrel was left in a cornfield in the opposite corner, protect by my Warriors on foot and the Levies. All out other units were free to roam the battlefield. Having played about half a dozen games with Anglo-Saxons myself, I had a pretty good idea how to play this one and it worked out well. My Hearthguards managed to stay out of trouble and only picked those fights where they had an advantage, while my mounted Warriors kept harassing his troops. Pretty soon all his units were decimated enough not to be able to make good use of the Anglo-Saxon abilities anymore. Now the small unit of Hearthguards and Warriors would have to kill enough troops to open the way for my other Hearthguards and Warlord to administer the killing blow and take out his barrel. And they managed to open the way by the end of my pan-ultimate turn. It all went according to plan and looked like a decisive win.

But Jens had sent out his Warlord and a unit of warriors to destroy my barrel. Between my mounted Warriors javelins and the crossbow bolts my troops were pretty fast to decimate this force to the Warlord and five Warriors. But then my dice rolling got worse and neither my crossbow bolts and javelins could take them out. By the end of Jens pan-ultimate turn they had been in combat with my Levies and Warriors on foot for two turns, had only lost a further two Warriors and my troops were down to three or four Levies and one Warrior. Now I rolled bad on my SAGA dice and this put my between a rock and a hard place. I had too few activations to take out his barrel for sure, but with the few troops I had left, there was no chance for me to defend mine. So even if my attack went well, the best I could hope for was a draw, but there was a good chance for a loss as well. So I decided to have my Warlord and large Hearthguard unit attack his attacking force. They managed to secure my barrel, but by doing so, I had to forfeit my chance to destroy his. So in the end, the game ended with a draw. But this was the first game that I started to feel at home playing the Spanish.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

Game 4 (Chance Encounter [from the Gripping Beast forum]) vs. Irish

Again this scenario had some modifications from the standard version. The cart would only get the extra defensive dice in close combat. The game would not end with a cart leaving the table. This would give the player two victory points instead. The opponent would get one more victory point each for killing the enemy Warlord or destroying the enemy cart. nothing else would be worth any victory points.

As I said, my troops were set up the same as last game. Jan my opponent had Brian Boru for his Warlord, Ulf the Quarrelsome as a Cuiradh, four points of Warriors and one Point of Irish Bloodhounds. Jan set his cart up on the road, while I tried to sneak my along one board edge. In theory the first turn was quite uneventful, except that the Jan used his Sons of Dana ability, boosted by some other abilities to have one of the woods kill five of my mounted warriors. Most of Jans troops operated in the centre where they slowly worked their way into my troops, but not enough to open a way for his cart. At the same time most of my Hearthguards and the mounted Warriors fought with his lone twelve men unit of Warriors on the flank with my cart. I have to say most of the game was dominated by the dice. Jan kept on rolling an hilarious amount of “5”s and “6”s while most of my rolls were mostly “3”s or less, also my SAGA dice rolled no rare symbols for two turns. When they did, Jan, who plays Spanish himself, made sure I could not take any advantage. This way I lost my mounted warriors and small unit of Hearthguards pretty fast, while Jans warriors on the flank had only lost five men. On the third turn Jan had this unit throw their javelins at my cart, two hit and I saved neither. They next turn saw me loose most of my other Hearthguards and Warlord. With only the Levies, one Warrior on foot and two or three Hearthguards left, I had no chance to push my way through to either his cart or Warlord, so I capitulated.

End of day one

So at the end of the first day, I had one win, one draw and two losses under belt. Not the way I had wanted the day to go.

At this time it also felt like a mixed bag to me. Lots of bad dice rolling and three games with opposing armies that were tough for me. The Mutatawii´a because they denied me my best abilities and made my cavalry weary of their camels. And the Irish in the last game where their large number of foot troops could make the best of the abundance of terrain which was a psychological drain due to the Sons of Dana ability, too. And the one victory, did not feel like one either, given that I was only able to net it due to the fact that I knew my friends style of play so well. So I ended the first day slightly frustrated and unable to tell, if the Spanish were a good army or not. Now it was up to the second day of the tournament to raise my mood.

Game 5 (Village Pillage [from the Gripping Beast forum]) vs. Steppe Tribes

For this game I was matched up versus one of the three women in the competition, Kim (who also won best painted army) and her Steppe Tribes. They were led by a Priest Warlord and consisted of 4 points of Warriors (split over 6 units) and 2 points of Levies with bows (split over 5 units). I had deployed my Warriors on foot near the building that was to be defended and the crossbows in a woods near the centre of the table. All my mounted units were to roam freely on the board. Kim had set up her Levies around the building with all her Warriors (except one unit that always stayed near the Warlord) also in position to roam around.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

So this one looked like a stalemate from the beginning. With the ability of the Steppe Tribes to shoot all Levies at once, if only they were close enough to the Warlord (which they were), I stood very limited chance to survive an assault on Kims building. On the other hand her Warriors lacked the staying power to push through my Hearthguards. And this is how it played out. All of Kims efforts to push forward were punished by my mounted troops or the crossbows, usually ending in the annihilation of her units. So for the whole game, I was able to contain her troops in her quarter of the table. But she always kept her Levies and Warriors back, so that I did not dare to attack her building.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

Now I have to admit, that I never played with or against Steppe Tribes and only ever read them online once a couple of years ago. So I asked for a battle board and read almost to the end of the second column, but not wanting to hold things up too much, I stopped there. Right above the Wildcats ability. And this cost me dearly. For that one Warrior unit that had always lingered near her table edge now teleported to my edge and pillaged my building. All my mounted troops were just out of reach, even with the Iberia ability and the game was lost.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

This was really the low of the tournament for me. It had been the first game were my dice had rolled well and also the first, where I felt really at home playing the Spanish, so to lose like that really got me down.

Game 6 (Clash of Warlords) vs. Jomsvikings

My opponent for the last game was Marco and this was the match-up (Jomsvikings vs. Spanish) that I always thought would be the most boring combination possible for this tournament. Marco fielded a regular Warlord, two points of Warriors and four points of Hearthguards. The later were fielded in units of five to six men with one six-men unit sporting Dane Axes. He played them in the very compact formation most Jomsviking players seem to prefer. The only really clash happened on the first or second turn, when one of his five-men units of Hearthguards attacked my 4-men unit. Due to the fact that they had to attack with a double move (and some unequal dice rolling) this ended with his unit being wiped out and me only loosing two riders. From now it became a slow war of attrition. With my Reconquista ability I pinned his Warriors half the game, essentially meaning that this Hearthguards had to move around them to attack. My horsemen always managed to get out of reach, while my mounted Warriors slowly took out his troops with their javelins. Together with the fact that I hardly ever granted him Wrath, this must have been one surely frustrating mach to play for him. Due to his Warlord always staying close to the Dane Axes there was no chance for me to take him out with a swift move. And he did not fall for any bait I threw him either, so in the end this was decided on points. Not the most imaginative victory for me, but one I urgently needed.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

Results and famous last words

So how did it go in total. Well I missed my target position by a grand 19 places, finishing 24th out of 32 players. After really being unimpressed with my Spanish during the first few games, I really started to love them later on. I guess this goes to prove, that it is never a good idea to go to a tournament with an untested army. After the first day I felt a bit like it was all down to bad pairing, bad dice and maybe even a bad faction. But to be fair and with a week to let it all sink in… those might have been factors, but I think the biggest factors me not know my army well enough, and making a few mistakes in the first game. I sure would have been unable to turn everything into a victory, but some games might have gone better. And I also need to make a habit of learning even the more obscure battleboards before a competition like this.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

When it comes to the Spanish. Had you asked me on Saturday, I would have dismissed them as a poor army. After Sunday that definitely changed and I already decided, that they will be the army I shall field next year. But I really need to learn to play them in a more offensive way.

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

Regarding the event itself. It was just as great as it had been last year and as much fun. Definitely one to attend again next year. The one thing I noticed was, that many of the warbands (all over, not necessarily the people I played against) were more optimised than last year. More stuff that I would label power combinations. But do not get me wrong. The general atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly and while I am growing ever more disenchanted by competitive play, this even sure is the exception due to the people playing in it.

So I am now going to leave you with some more pictures from the event and the archeological park. For those interested, here are the links to the pictures taken by the organizer Mirco from Stronghold Terrain and a video report by Tabletop Workshop (all in German except for the interview by Andy, the overall winner). [Yours truly managed to show up quite often during the video, including the interview starting at 3:40 mins.]

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

SAGA German Grand Melee 2016

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2016 in Medival, Rules, SAGA, Spanish