Wednesday, 17 August 2016

South Bay Game Club

After a recent move to California, I haven't had much time to tinker with miniatures. Things are starting to settle down though, which means I've been able to open up my hobby "travel set", paint a few minis and, naturally, order new ones. Last weekend I was happy to pay a visit to the local South Bay Game Club. The club meets about once a month at a local church, where a number of different games are run. This time there were about 25-30 people present and five games: a Napoleonic naval game, a WW2 fighter game, a Mare Nostrum board game, a skirmish game between French Foreign Legion and Mexicans, as well as a large Saga game. I played Saga, which was a practice game of a Battle of Hastings demo to be run at Pacificon in a few weeks time.

I had a great time! The locals are very open and friendly, and I had a great time chatting about all manner of topics. These guys definitely appreciate historical gaming as much as I do. The game was fun as well, with some spectacular (and funny) moments. In the end, the Anglo-Saxons managed to counter the Norman's cavalry charge, slay William the Bastard and win the day!

The venue - a Lutheran church

A  54-60 mm game of Foreign Legion vs. Mexicans

The Foreign Legion seemed to be holding their own

Napoleonic naval action

Aerial combat in the Pacific

Norman knights

William the Bastard

The Bastard is cut down

There was also a good looking Bring & Buy section at the venue

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Steel Lightning: Cadian 25th Assault Engineer company

A Warhammer 40K campaign started at our club, which has been generated a lot of excitement and been very successful in mobilizing many veteran gamers to dig up their old armies. This has certainly happened to me, and I have even found myself painting new additions to my already quite extensive collection of Imperial Guard (or whatever they're called nowadays).

In a flurry of nocturnal painting I finished a platoon of veteran guardsmen I had assembled maybe 5-6 years ago and tuned up their transports with some battle damage. I had originally assembled the force because I thought the theme was cool, so it's a nice surprise that they now constitute a "formation" in 40K, which get some nice bonuses to boot. Score!

The 25th Assault Engineer company is a separate formation that is permanently attached to the Cadian 6th Armoured Regiment. Their tasks are manifold: clearing and bridging obstacles, escorting the regiment's Leman Russ battle tanks, securing objectives and assaulting fortified enemy positions. The veterans are armed with shotguns, meltaguns, meltabombs, flamers, demolition charges and other "tools of the trade". Each squad is mounted on a Chimera APC and the platoon is supported by two Hellhound flame-thrower tanks. The company is commanded by Major Steele, a hardened veteran with almost as many bionic replacements than "original" parts.

1st squad

2nd squad

Major Steele with his command squad

Squad 3

The platoon's AFVs

One of the battle-worn Chimeras

A Hellhound from Forge World

Friday, 1 July 2016

Encounter at Joyle's Depot

The deep thud of a heavy bolter sounded off in the distance, accompanied by a few shotgun blasts. The battle was already quieting down and Major Steele, commander of 3rd platoon, 52nd Cadian assault engineer regiment was already contemplating his next move. The grizzled veteran walked around a wrecked Chaos war-engine that his men were rigging with explosives. More Cadians were busy dispatching the enemy wounded and dragging the fallen of both sides to massive heaps. Everything that had been tainted by Chaos would be incinerated or blown up, just in case. The several Leman Russ wrecks of Cadian 6th armoured would be salvaged and, if possible, repaired by the regiments enginseers.

The task force's mission had been a success, but its implications worried the Major. The platoon of assault engineers, supported by a squadron of Leman Russ battle tanks, had been tasked with investigating what had happened at Joyle's Depot. The little village, which had acted as one of the regiment's supply dumps, had gone awfully quiet a few days ago. Upon arrival, the Cadians found the village littered with bodies and reeking of intoxicating scents. Chaos!

Cultists were busy organising some form of ritual in nearby woods and unnatural daemons lurked in the shadows. Major Steele immediately ordered an attack, which had gone well. Advancing on a broad front, the Imperial tanks had laid down a withering fire, which cut down many of the smaller daemons that were gathered in some kind of vile celebration. 

The surprised Slaanesh forces counter-attacked with all sorts of daemonic war engines and Chaos monstrosities, which materialized behind the guardsmen and on their flanks. Several Leman Russ tanks were destroyed by the massive claws of the Chaos monsters while the rest lumbered forward. Unperturbed, Major Steele had ordered his assault engineers to press on with the attack and the mobile veterans obliterated each threat before it got out of hand.

The battle was short and brutal. Imperial losses were light while virtually the entire Chaos host was cut down. Only the leader of the cultists managed to escape, while the daemons disappeared into the Warp whence they had come from. Major Steele knew from experience though, that the fight was not over. Every last one of those cultists would have to be hunted down and the village would have to be purified. This was only the beginning.

Cadian armour rolls into the village

Enemy sighted, fire at will!

The daemonic horde is caught off-guard

Major Steele's HQ races to secure an objective

A Chaos monster races forward at unnatural speed and rips a Leman Russ in two with its claws

Cadian infantry counter-attacks and destroys the monstrosity with well-aimed melta shots

Chaos Spawn and the vile warlord of the Chaos host arrive from outflank...

Cadian veterans redeploy and take down the Chaos outflankers with well-placed shotgun blasts

A daemonic sorcer lands in a deadly cross-fire and is eventually destroyed

Forward for Cadia!

Chaos forces are in a tight spot as the Imperial tanks lumber on

Major Steele is victorious!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Star Wars Armada: Encounter at base NS-207B

Admiral Dracip stood unmoving on the command deck of his Star Destroyer, Retribution. The greying veteran was lost deep in thought. Where could the Rebel fleet be? Dracip's task force had received orders to intercept and destroy a Rebel fleet active in the sector. The elusive enemy had already captured a number of Imperial supply convoys, but had thus far managed to evade Imperial patrols.

The Admiral's brooding was disrupted by a cough and some rustling from behind. There stood captain Krik, the fleet's chief intelligence officer. How long had the dark haired subaltern been there? Dracip disliked Krik, who was a cunning little thing that knew a bit too much and was probably out to supplant the elderly admiral. Unfortunately, Krik was too well connected to get rid off, and Dracip had to grudgingly admit that the younger man was good at what he did.

"What is it!?" Dracip barked.

"Sir, I have them!" The subaltern beamed proudly, undoubtedly taking credit for his underling's hard work. "My informants have indicated that the Rebel fleet plans to resupply at a remote space station on the fringes of the Nuthra system. A long range scan of the system indicates that several ships have indeed entered the area."

"Excellent! We must move out at once. Assemble the fleet and plot a course to this base. We shall wait until the Rebels have brought in their entire fleet and then come out of hyper space as close as possible. The enemy won't escape us this time!"

The encounter at base NS-207B

We played a scenario where the objective of both sides was to control the space station in the centre, while destroying as much of the opposing fleet as possible. I played the Imperials, fielding three Victory I class Star Destroyers (Retribution, Justice and Sentinel), 7 squadrons of Tie Fighters and 2 squadrons of Tie Bombers. The Rebel fleet consisted of an Assault Frigate Mark II (their flagship), two Nebulon B Frigates, a Corelian Corvette, two squadrons of A-wings, a squadron of X-wings, squadron of B-wings and squadron of Y-wings. The Rebels had the initiative (going first).

The Imperial manoeuvre catches the rebel scum off-guard (again)!

The opposing fleets close in on space station NS-207B

Imperial Star Destroyers advance menacingly

The Rebel fleet is a more motley assortment of ships

Space station NS-207B

This game was powered by Imperial lager

The Imperial fleet came out hyper space exactly as planned. The three Star Destroyers advancing side by side were a menacing sight, which threw the Rebels off guard. However, the supplies on station NS-207B were too valuable for the Rebels to abandon, and so they sped forward. In no time, the Rebel fleet had converged around the station and loading of the supplies could commence. The smaller, faster ships of the Rebel fleet were moving at great speed and started to bank right, with the obvious plan to by-pass and wheel around the imposing wall of death projected by the Star Destroyers' forward batteries. The Assault Frigate advanced more cautiously, apparently planning to defend the station while the supplies would be loaded.

On the Imperial side, Justice and Retribution advanced as fast as they could towards the station, whilst Sentinel on the right followed more slowly. Swarms of Tie Fighters were deployed and they hovered in front of the Star Destroyers, screening the capital ships from the Rebel bombers. As soon as the enemy came within range, the Tie Fighters sped forward to engage the Rebel squadrons. In no time at all, the Rebel squadrons were engaged and slowly both sides started to lose fighters.

Both sides scramble for the space station. The faster Rebel ships reach the target first.

Star Destroyer Sentinel, on the right flank, had misinterpreted the Rebel's plan and gets left behind.

Tie Fighter ace "Mauler" Mithel engages the Rebel A-wings

While the fighters engaged each other, the capital ships of both fleets continued on their trajectories. The Imperial Star Destroyers lumbered towards the space station whilst the lighter Rebel ships veered right. A few shots were traded at long range, but it was not long before the fleets clashed violently and true carnage could begin. The Star Destroyers were at their most effective at close range, while the nimble Rebel ships would have preferred to snipe at the enemy from long range.

The Corelian Corvette took a few heavy hits which dropped its shields, but the real punishment of the Imperial fleet was meted on one of the Nebulon-B Frigates, which lingered too long in the killing ground formed by the firing sector of two Star Destroyers. The Rebel captain tried to frantically weave left and right to avoid the shots, redirected his shields to the threatened sector and, when those efforts failed, attempted to increase speed to get out of the fire. It was all to no avail, and the short but deadly concentration of fire incinerated the overwhelmed frigate. The second Rebel frigate and the Corelian Corvette made it through the gauntlet and got round to the rear of the Star Destroyers. 

All hell breaks loose in the centre

One Rebel ship is destroyed, but the remaining Nebulon-B Frigate and Corelian Corvette make it to the Imperial rear.

However, the Rebel fleet had teeth of its own, and the Star Destroyers too started to feel the hurt. The Rebels chose to concentrate their fire against the Imperial capital ship, Retribution, which was situated in the middle of the Imperial line. Retribution was hit particularly hard by the close-range fire of the Assault Frigate, which continued loading supplies from the space station. Retribution returned fire and the squadrons of Tie Bombers started making bombing runs against the large Rebel ship. Star Destroyers Justice and Sentinel started to move up on either flank of the Rebel flagship. Meanwhile, the Tie Fighters had gained the upper hand against the less numerous rebel squadrons and slowly but surely eradicated the enemy fighters one by one. The Imperial fleet also gained control of the space station as their fleet began closing in from all sides.

The flagships of both fleets are locked in a deadly duel.

As the Corvette and Nebulon-B Frigate wheeled around the Imperial line, the predicament of Star Destroyer Retribution got worse. There was insufficient room for the Imperial flagship to manoeuvre past the Rebel's Assault Frigate, which kept pummelling its hapless prey from point-blank range. The ship's shields were down and the crew was hard pressed to put out the numerous small fires that had sprung up whilst trying to repair the ships systems, which were failing one by one. The lighter Rebel ships threw in their fire from the rear, which sealed the Star Destroyer's fate. With its hull breached in a dozen places, Admiral Dracip ordered all crew to abandon ship. Proud and standing tall, the admiral refused to abandon his station. One by one the lights flickered out and the engines died down. Slowly, the airless hulk continued on its trajectory and drifted off to space.

Star Destroyer Retribution is destroyed, followed shortly after by the Rebel flagship.

Remaining Rebel squadrons are swamped and destroyed.

The Rebels' elation was short lived, however, as they were in trouble of their own. Star Destroyers Justice and Sentinel drifted forward on either side of the large Rebel flagship, taking the beleaguered ship in a deadly crossfire. The hunter had become the hunted, and now it was the Rebel ships turn to frantically seek an escape from this trap. It was too late, however, to escape the wrath of the Star Destroyers. A well concentrated fire knocked out the Assault Frigate's shields on either flank, leaving the flagship a sitting duck. Sensing the inevitable, the captain attempted to contact the Imperial ships to negotiate a surrender.

The Imperial fleet did not heed this plea. It has been suggested that the Rebel ship's transmitters had been knocked out and that the plea for mercy never got through. Others say that the Imperial ships refused to accept the surrender. What the truth is, we don't know. What we do know is that a final, massive bombardment took the Rebel ship in both flanks simultaneously and that one of these rounds penetrated the ships reactors. The overheating reactors went critical and the Rebel fleet's capital ship disappeared in a brilliant explosion.

This was too much for the remaining Rebel ships: the remaining Nebulon-B Frigate and a Corelian Corvette. The Imperial Star Destroyers began wheeling about to engage the smaller ships and the Tie Fighters, having dispatched the remaining Rebel squadrons, moved to engage the capital ships. A few more shots were traded, but to little effect. The Rebel ships manoeuvred for a while and plotted the course for a hyper jump out of the system. In a flash, the remnants of the Rebel fleet activated their hyper drives and disappeared. The Nuthra system had been pacified - for now.

The Star Destroyers begin wheeling to engage the remaining Rebel ships

The Rebel ships move to escape

Imperial ships closing in, the Rebel ships engage their hyper drives and make a jump out of the system.