Thursday 25 February 2016

Dropping in to Drropzone Commander

I'm my quest to experience more new games this year, along with backing the recent Dropfleet Commander Kickstarter it seemed prudent to give Hawk Wargames Dropzone Commander a whirl.

It can be quite daunting going into an established game completely cold, however the games club I attend has a few DZC players so I was able to arrange an intro game with David, and was also lucky enough to acquire a starter set at a fantastic price from Chaos Cards

Thus primed and with my freshly painted UCM force from the starter set still tacky, I arrived at the club for a 4 player game, using nothing but 2 starters worth of terrain, and the forces from  the sets. 

 Despite only the host of the game actually knowing the rules, the 3 of us picked up the basics very quickly, and before long the game was in full swing with drop ships swooping in to drop units in, pick up objectives, and masses of things exploding. 

Men of the match have to be my legionnaires who stormed a building, swagged some Intel, and then spent the rest of the game shooting anything that came within range to pieces. 

I was impressed with the game, everything felt dramatic and whilst the rules were simple the flow of the activation mechanic meant that every move had to be be carefully considered, and it felt like the challenge was the tactical situation, as opposed to trying to wrestle with the rules. 

The background to the universe the game is set in is intriguing as well, with mankind attempting to retake its worlds from an alien occupier after a long exile, and for once is the aggressor rather than the defender from another alien menace. 

The science and model range is all quite believable technologically too, everything has a very grounded.
At first the 10mm scale models were a little daunting, however I'm quite enjoying being able to paint a platoon in an evening after work, there's something deeply satisfying about getting a handful of tanks turned around in a few hours. 

You can see the pics of my test APC, and some of the rest of my army in action in the pictures around this post. 

I've already ordered the reconquest book and some reinforcements, and am very happy to add another game to my rotation. You can find out more on Dropzone Commander at the Hawk Wargames Website, and see more of my painting at Volley Fire Painting Service.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Duel in the Sun for Bolt Action overview

The latest supplement for Bolt Action has come scorching out of Warlord Towers, and this time covers the African and Italian campaigns of WW2. 

The war in the desert especially is immensely popular with wargamers, so this book has been hotly anticipated.

Published by Osprey and written by Dylan Owen and Alessio Cavatore this 136 page soft back book is packed with photos, rules, history scenarios and new units, costing £19.99 from Warlord and coming with a limited availability figure, lets see what you get for your money.

The book breaks down into 7 sections, an introduction which is pretty self explanatory, 6 theatres ranging from the Italian forces initial engagements in North Africa, the battles for Crete and Greece, the arrival of Rommel and the DAK, Operation Torch and the Tunisian campaign, the Italian campaign, and finally a selection of useful scenario rules.

Duel in the sun contains 17 scenarios. Yes, 17 new scenario, these are typically more narrative battles rather than tournament ones, and the book also gives some advice on playing them as a campaign as well. Personal favourites for me are the assault on Monastery Hill and Kasserine Pass, both of which look like being immensely good defensive games, although there are plenty of others, including an amphibious assault, and daring commando style raids on airfields, (which also looks immensely good fun!).

New units and theatre selectors

13 new units are added to Bolt Action, not including the named characters. Some of these we have seen before, such as the SAS section, and the veteran US infantry squad, but some are new and I'm hoping to see a model for the Diana tank destroyer before too long for my own DAK. 

Also included are some unit upgrades that are described in force descriptions at the start of the various sections of the book. Particularly note worthy are the options to add cavalry, specifically camelry to British and French forces by upgrading a regular infantry section for a small points cost. 

5 'Legends' characters are also covered, mad Jack Churchill and Otto Skorzeny who we have seen before, are now joined by Charles Upham, Commando Kelly and  Daniel Inouye and finally Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke totalling 2 British, 2 American and 2 German personalities.

Units added in the book break down as follows:
For the Italians
The Lancia Ansalado IZ and IZM armoured cars, the late war Parachudisti squad, the M75/34 self propelled gun are all added for the Italians, and the post armistice Italian forces are covered in a theatre selector that covers both the axis and allied Italian forces.
Interestingly, there is also a not quite an Italian theatre selector, but more a bonus for theming a force is the option to upgrade some of the Italian colonial troops to regular if using a force comprised solely of them (bar one none colonial infantry unit). 

For the Germans
The Germans receive 4 additional units, namely an Sdkfz 263 command vehicle, the Lorraine Schlepper, which can be equipped with a vast array of weapon options, the strafbattalion squad  and finally the Diana tank hunter, which I'm hoping will be kitted soon. 
Two theatre selctors are added, firstly a Fallschirmjager platoon. This is a light infantry platoon for use in the Crete and early war scenarios, and can also be lead by Ramcke to make the Ramcke brigade too. The second selector is for the Hermann Goring division, and this allows you to do either a reinforced or armoured platoon, with an emphasis on tough infantry and good as well as plentiful anti aircraft weapons.

For the British and Commonwealth
Apart from the aforementioned cavalry upgrade option (also available for the French!), the British get 4 new units, apart from the named characters. These are a Maori rifle section, the armoured command truck, the SAS section and the Scorpion flail tank. The SAS we've seen before, but it's handy to have them here again. 
The Maori section is a available as either regular or veteran, with all the normal British Rifle section options, and can be upgraded for 1 point to gain the formiddible fighters rule, which means they ignore your chosen British special rule to gain 'up and at them' 'tough as boots' and 'blood curdling charge'

The Scorpion flail tank is designed for clearing mine fields, so whilst it may not appear as an obvious choice for every game, it's great to have it added for scenarios, and a model would be a stunning centrepiece in a collection. 
I'm quite tempted to make a unit of Maori's though, with obligatory rugby ball, and maybe performing a Haka... 

Commonwealth forces only get one theatre selector, and that is the addition of the Indian army. This allows you to play an all Indian platoon, and this is constructed using a standard theatre selector for the relevant time period, but allows you to discard the usual British special rules in favour of a couple of new ones, specifically a free unit and very good morale. 

For the Unites States
The American's don't get anything we've not seen before outside of their characters, getting the veteran infantry squad that has appeared a few times now, and the M29 Weasel.

Duel in the sun is finished off with a fairly extensive chapter bringing together the various scenario special rules added across the previous theatre selectors, notably, amphibious assaults, minefields, air landings, para drops, desert, mud and frostbite conditions, using captured vehicles, combined nationality forces, nightfighting and finally dug in forces.
Phew. Lots of information, and all an exceedingly helpful supplement for Bolt Action. 

Prior to Duel in the Sun I had built vast desert armies for numerous clients for work, and had been burned out of collecting one for myself, however between the beautiful artwork and contents of this book, as well as a bit of family history I am very much heading into the desert for the long haul now, with British, German and American forces planned, with maybe some Italians and French for completeness...  More on this next week! 

Warlord have a number of excellent deals at the moment to make getting into the war in the desert even easier, you can get a box of Perry plastics, a tank and an armoured car for around £45 with free shipping, as well as some great terrain and armoured platoon bundles too.

You can check these out and also collect your book from Warlord Games. The models on this page are a mix of Perry DAK and Warlord LRDG trucks, as well as a Blitzkrieg Sherman,and all from my collection You can see more of my work, and contact me about commissions at Volley Fire Painting Service.