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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Back in the V4 Saddle???


This past weekend I answered a call from a friend to step in last minute and run the Flames of War V4 tourney at MiniWars in Fullerton California. I was already scheduled to run the Team Yankee tourney on Sunday, so it wasn't a problem to step in and run the Maus Haus tourney on Saturday, as well.

Unfortunately, the player list for the FOW tourney wasn't very deep. With the original TO and his son out, another friend and I stepped in to play in the FOW tourney and get them up to 4 tables. I knew I could step out if we had a drop or an add last minute. (I'm not in favor of TOs playing in their events, but understand it may be necessary to make the experience better for the players and get another table in when needed.)

Those who read the forums know that I've moved away from FOW for my WWII gaming experience. This was an opportunity to give it one last go, and play well outside my comfort zone. Please allow me to share my return to V4 experience.

Kevin ran LW Japanese and finished 2nd in the tournament. He also took home Best Painted Honors both days.

The tourney was a V4, Late War event set at 1665 points. There were already a lot of Soviet armies ready to take the field, so I abandoned my beloved British Rifle Company for a German army. This was probably for the best since the play style of V4 doesn't match my cautious defensive infantry play.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Product Review: Battlefront's BB222 Small Desert Houses

By Ranger Dane

These are great little houses for your desert table.   These Small Desert Houses are being released as part of Battlefront's V4  North Africa Campaign. . These Small Desert Houses will also mix well in any Italian Campaign.  These Small Desert Houses will also blend seamlessly with any Arab-Israeli war game.



These homes are also representative of many Mediterranean homes.   Here are an actual Houses in North Africa.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Test Your Team Yankee Skills at Fall-In!



Come test your Team Yankee skills against the guys from WWPD at HMGS's Fall-in!  WWPD will be running Team Yankee Demos Friday and Saturday (3-4 Nov) at Fall-in, come find us near that day's Flames of War tournament and play a 30-minute, 35-point game with us and get a free Team Yankee sprue! Win and you get a $5 coupon from Battlefront towards and army box set. Maybe even play against a list from Stripes!  No models needed just show and test your skills! 

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

On Battle Plans

by Tom Culpepper

Last month Battle Front released an updated mission pack.  Much has been said about the implications of the new victory conditions and how they will affect play-style and, perhaps, list creation.  Recently, I conducted an analysis of the Battle Plans scheme for choosing the mission.
For tournament players knowing what missions will be played, or are likely to be played, can have a decisive impact on their list construction.  If you’re anything like me when you first saw the Battle Plans mission selector you thought to yourself, “this looks complicated, but fun!”  Your second thought may have also been, “How can I over-analyze this to gain a small edge over my opponent?”
First, we should discuss the nine (not counting Annihilation or Hasty Attack) scenarios found in the updated More Missions pdf.  Each of the nine missions can be sorted into three groups.  Each group contains three similar scenarios. 






Defensive Battles

Bridgehead, No Retreat, and Rear Guard compose this set.  These scenarios are featuring a classic attacker vs defender type layout.  In all three missions the defender has minefields and an ambush.  In two scenarios, Bridgehead and No Retreat, the defender must contend with reserves, deep reserves actually.  Rear Guard is the only mission that uses Withdrawal, acting like reserves in reverse.  To me, these are the most straight forward missions even though they use many special rules because each side only has one job to do.  The attacker must take an objective to win.  In Bridgehead and No Retreat the defender wins if the attacker is not near the objectives after turn six.  In Withdrawal, he just has to hold out until turn nine.


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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Behind Enemy Lines Episode 41

Download the episode here
We're back and now with 300% more microphones!

And even though we're all professional now, we're still gonna bring you the same show you know and love.

Come and join us as we look at new releases in the gaming world, tell you about our latest gaming exploits and we may even crack into a rant or 4....



Want to join the conversation? Please sound off in the comments below, or let us know on our forum!
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Product Review: Battlefront's BB225 Desert Walls

by Ranger Dane

A great little addition to your North Africa, or Italy battlefield terrain kit.  These wall sets come in “cover and concealment” (low wall) size and block LOS (tall wall) size. These wall sections are being released with the V4 North Africa campaign set, but they will also blend well in any Italian Campaign.  They will also blend seamlessly with any Arab-Israeli war game.

So let’s take a look at these walls that surround many North African homes, buildings and cities. These walls also surround many Mediterranean homes, buildings and cities.   Here are a few actual walls from North Africa.



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Friday, September 29, 2017

BattleGroup: An interview with the designer

With Warwick Kinrade. All photos courtesy of Ironfist Publishing.

I recently had a chance to correspond with Warwick Kinrade, primary creator of the Battlegroup rules system, published by Ironfist Publishing and The Plastic Soldier Company.

Photo: Piers (left) and Warwick (right) performing historical research for a period other than WWII.

Warwick is the main game designer behind Battlegroup. He's had help along the way from Piers Brand, the other half of the Ironfist Publishing force. In what I've learned is true "Piers Fashion" he deferred all of my questions about the game design of Battlegroup to Warwick.

1. Which of you is the genius (or to blame - either motivation works) for creating the game? A joint effort, or more one than the other?

WK: The game was created by me (Warwick). With some help from my main gaming opponents, but it's 99% my work, over about a 10 year period. Piers has helped out with the supplements.


Photo LEFT: Warwick (left) and Wil from PSC --  Photo RIGHT: Gaming the Battlegroup way.

2. What kind of backgrounds do you have in either military, historical research, or game design?

WK: My background is in games design and publishing, for 15 years for Games Workshop. My history background is nothing more than a long-standing interest in military history since I was kid really.

Photo LEFT: Piers Brand in his paint studio. Piers paints many of the miniatures in the Battlegroup books, as well as painting the minis pictured on the PSC boxes.  Photo RIGHT: In addition to designing the game, Warwick is also responsible for the vast majority of the images in the Battlegroup books.


3. Is IronFist publishing your baby? Does someone else own it, how did that come about?

WK: Ironfist was set-up as a joint venture between the Plastic Soldier Company and myself.

4. What's the connection between BG and PSC? Did they commission the rules set from you, or did you approach them?

WK: Will, at PSC, asked if they could publish my game. He wanted a WWII game and really liked BG and the ideas behind it. I was going to publish my own rules anyway, so we did a deal...





5. In your own words, what is different about BG compared to other historical WWII and later period games?
What kind of player does it attract? Is there much of a tourney scene, convention play, or just blokes in garages and game shops having a fun afternoon?


WK: It was designed for me to play really, so middle-aged, knowledgeable, historical wargamers. It's not an intro game, it’s not about getting youngsters into the hobby etc (although they are welcome to play), it’s for those gamers that are serious about their historical fun and want games to feel that way too. I have no interest in a tournament scene (although others could create one, I won't),

I’ve seen up close what that pressure does to games design and development when rules get written with tournaments in mind, and I am very wary. Pick-up play, for evenings and afternoons, is the heart of BG, although I like an accurate historical refight occasionally too. But even those pick-up games still need to feel very much ‘of their time and place’, with the right forces, right scenario, etc. No anachronisms are allowed here (if we get it right).

Compared to other WWII games, I think it looks and feels a lot more authentic, the history is at its heart, not just a backdrop. Hardwired into the game. A knowledge of combined arms tactics, how to deploy a heavy machine gun for best effect, how infantry and tanks must work together, helps. It isn’t a guarantee of victory though, as in the real world, things need to go your way too (in Battlegroup terms, dice rolls and counter draws). There is a level of unpredictability which is more entertaining than in other games, which seem very predictable, even with the dice rolls (you generally get an average across a game).



6. As you work on the various Battle Books, what kind of criteria are you using to work on list building for each nation's forces? Are you looking for pure historical accuracy? If so, how do you balance that with the rules system? When looking at the special "flavor" of each nation's army, how do you decide what characteristics fit both the national flavor, as well as the playablity within the game system? Especially to avoid meta-creep in the system?

WK: Historical accuracy is very high on the agenda, as is the variety of forces and lots of options in the lists, mostly to facilitate collecting and using different and interesting models. Ambulances, radio trucks, motorcycle dispatch riders etc, that they have a role on the tabletop, even just a very small one. Then you can collect one, and enjoy painting it up. You don’t need them though, they don’t replace the tanks and infantry, just support them (like in real life).

‘Game balance’ (which isn’t the same as a fair game) is less important, as the core system is designed to cope with a lot of stresses. As said, it’s not for tournament play. There is no way to build a ‘killer’ army. Most players find a balanced force will always do well, so a bit of infantry, tanks and artillery support.



I’m not interested in that kind of ‘what you take’ game (ala X-Wing et al), I'm more for ‘what you do with what you take. I don’t like killer-combos or ‘bankers’, nothing is guaranteed in BG. The Battle Rating system offers very diverse forces a level playing field. The points values get players in the right ballpark, but its the BR system on which the game balances, not the points. BR is a simple system, impossible (I think) to break with power gaming. I haven't seen anybody do it yet.

There can be no ‘meta-creep’ (what is this ugly term?) as there is no ‘meta’ for BG (as I understand the term), the game is designed to avoid the pitfalls of this currently dominant ‘model’ of wargames, which is, IMHO, mostly only commercially driven, not about a better game. Battlegroup comes from a different place. It’s not about the rules selling more miniatures to people. Instead, Battlegroup is about providing a better gaming experience with those models. My ultimate aim was to have cool models, well-painted, on good historical terrain, in a game that felt historically right (from my knowledge) and was still fun and dramatic to play. That is what I wanted from my free time - the best of wargaming.



7. You issued a reprint of the main rules with, what? three minor changes? As you progress with the various battle books, do you foresee any major additional to the rules? Major revisions?

WK: No revisions, no new editions, no big rules changes, the core game is strong and I have no interest in doing all the work again. I poured my heart and soul into these rules and gave it my all, to create the best WWII rules I could, that won’t happen again (not with WW2 anyway). The game is the one I want to play and, beyond a very few minor tweaks, it won’t be revised.


Such revisions are, again, a commercially driven idea from big companies that need the income from ‘new stuff’ - to sell rulebooks again and again. BG isn’t that. That’s not BG’s approach… This is the WWII game I shall play for the rest of gaming days (I hope). We’ll just do different theatres and time periods from within the war… they provide new interest and can feel like entirely new games anyway - if we get it right.



8. Of course, you've announced a NORTHAG rules set in the works. We should do a piece or two on that system when it comes out. But, for now, how close is that rules system to the WWII version of the rules set? Is the core system getting revamped (EG: FoW ver 3 moving to Team Yankee - two different beasts)? Or, are the two systems staying close to each other?

WK: NORTHAG is miles away from being done. Work has only just started. Ultimately, it still has to be Battlegroup, the rules won’t be drastically re-worked. They will be tweaked though, and in some ways, subtle changes can make big difference and produce a very different feel to the game, which is the aim with all BG supplements. It can’t just be WW2 with different tank models, that’s not the BG-way. It has to feel like a very different game, although the core rules don’t change. That’s the trick… and the tricky bit.



Troy A. Hill is a recovering journalist, and recent transplant to Los Angeles, California. He's a long time gamer, and has played too many games to list. He even got to edit a D&D supplement for TSR back in the days of green computer monitors. He grumps a lot, especially before his second pot of coffee. If spotted in the wild, you have an excellent chance to escape if you toss him bacon, or oatmeal-raisin cookies, and back away slowly while he's distracted.
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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bolt Action: Full scale model wars

Full scale model wars
Quite some time ago I participated in an event and I noticed that two of the players were using some tanks that seemed a little on the large side. Melbourne's favorite French sons Julian and Enzo had come out to play and they had bought some 1:48 scale tanks. Initially I had a kind of reservation about using a larger scale, after all 1:48 is a lot bigger than 1:56 and therefore harder to transport, easier for your enemy to shoot at and easier to break as 1:48 tends to be an actual model as opposed to a toy. But then I noticed the exquisite detail these models offer as well as the fact that your models actually look like they could fit inside the tank.



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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Product Review: Battlefront's BB228 Apartment Block

By Ranger Dane

The most recent Battlefront property released as part of the RED THUNDER battlefield in a box terrain series is the Apartment Block. The Apartment Block is an impressive 3-story building capable of housing even the largest platoon.  Each floor measures 1.5” x 5” x 3.5”    and can hold: 4 (medium base) Infantry Teams.   This building is typical of the apartment buildings seen all over Europe.  This building is a welcome addition to Battlefront's new modern building line for use with Team Yankee.

The 3-story Apartment Building comes with Air Conditioners (window units) and HVAC systems for the roof, or side yard

Let’s take a look at a few typical European apartment buildings.




Here we have Battle Front’s Apartment Block, product code BB228 and retails for $50.00 USD.


The model comes with:
• 1x ground floor with doorway.
• 2x elevated apartments with balcony.
• 1x roof.
• 1x package of 6x air conditioners and 4x HVAC units.



Each level of the Apartment Block could stand alone as a town building and are large enough to accommodate 4 infantry teams.


The roof is perfect for those SA-14 Gremlin or Fliegerfaust Teams.


I really like this model.  It is very representative of many of the city apartment blocks in Europe. Though this set comes pre-painted, it would be easy enough to change exterior colors to add a little Variety. It is a great terrain piece on the game table, especially when combined with other Team Yankee Terrain. Though some may not appreciate the $50 price tag, this is a lot of building for the gamer’s money.  The quality is there and there is a lot of resin in this 3-story building.  I believe I will get a few more of these and create an apartment block for those Urban-city fights.


This building rates: Ein Prosit und eins! zwei drei! trinken!
This Building was provided by Battlefront.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Bolt Action: Better to Burn Out Than Fade Away!

What's up everyone!

Today I get the supreme pleasure of introducing to you the newest member of the Bolt Action Alliance team, the indomitable Kieran Byrne! Kieran's been a part of the UK Bolt Action for a while now, and many of you may remember him from the Combined Operations podcast which has sadly been deactivated. Kieran, never being one to shy away from a topic, comes out swinging at the bell to talk about something a lot of gamers deal with... the idea of hobby burn out. Apologies to those of you who thought we'd be talking about introducing Highlander characters into Bolt Action. Interspersed throughout the article are pics of Bryan's "Lead Mountain" as well as Kieran's armies.


_______________________________________________________________________________

With the fact that it is becoming an all too prevalent phrase being presented by a lot of gamers, on a bigger scale than maybe what was previously seen, I am going to jump in with both feet and tackle one of the elephants in the room for my first article for the Bolt Action Alliance. The dreaded hobby burnout.

What is Burnout?

Now any internet search for the term ‘Burnout’ will bring up a plethora of information about how various stress factors that we place on ourselves daily can lead to our motivation being diminished, and lower us to certain levels of depression in a lot of cases. Through all those online suggestions for remedies a main one that stands out if you read it from our perspective is the ‘Get a hobby!’ cure, but what if our hobby is the thing that causing us the problem? Well hopefully below we may try and address some suggestions and points that can be of help.

I will preface these all with saying that this is from my own perspective. I have suffered with the complete lack of motivation to do anything constructive at all and while I hope the points I raise below will help I also am not naïve enough to say if you do this then it will sort you out. The effects and causes of the burnout is as individual to the person as the person themselves so what is right for one is not for others.

Now I do think that ‘burnout’ has become a bit of a catchphrase at the moment, but the first thing I think we need to ask is, is it really a complete burnout with the hobby? Or have we put things in our way that are causing us to unduly stress? Or are we just in fact a little bored? I think this is a main crux of the whole situation as whatever level we find ourselves then the solutions to it may be easier than others.



What Causes Burnout?

So the actual playing, how can we break out of the rut of not being motivated to get out and play? A lot of the online posts you see surrounding this all seem to point to one suggestion. ‘Go and play something else!’ Now while I somewhat agree in part to what this suggests I also don’t think in some cases that it offers a reasonable solution and here is why. A lot of us have used a marked amount of our time, effort, and financial resource to creating the armies we play with to such an extent that now if we are to attempt to distance ourselves the whole cycle begins again which in turn will just cause a respite for the issue. It may also be the case  that you will go to play these other games and never return back to, for purposes of this article, Bolt Action. Also this suggestion does not take into account the financial or time constraint levels that people are at so maybe we don’t just have the ability to go and play something else. I will come back to this point in a while though.



One thing I think we need to ask ourselves is actually what is it about the game that’s causing the problem. This is from my own experience so this is my first bit of first hand advice. For a number of years I was a quite prolific tournament player and as such all the games I played were of a similar style, so to speak, and it just got to the point of not holding interest to go out and do it all again. So what did I do? Well to be honest I joined my local hobby club. The gameplay at a club vs gameplay at tournament can be of a marked difference and the whole baggage that sometimes comes along with being at a tournament is stripped away and you just relive the pleasure of playing the game again. Also you have a lot more freedom playing away from a tournament setting as we will touch on below.




The second of my points is are we challenging ourselves enough? What I mean by this is the fact that, say, a lot of tournament armies will follow a pretty set out criteria and this can have an effect of when you are playing against these armies, then the whole scope of finding something new is greatly reduced. It can be seen that a lot of the more experienced players have the experience already to counter most things on the table, so those players that do turn up with these forces expecting to do well are disheartened when it all goes pear shaped. So on the other hand are you a player that follows that criteria? Are whatever armies you have pretty much the same setup with just different clothing? Do you think that the challenge of running your armies without any armour, being solely infantry, or another composite of what is available will help you find a new challenge in the game and reinvigorate your taste for battle? I know it did in my case.



Another part of the whole hobby that seems to cause the most burnout is the actually painting and general hobby that surrounds the making up of your armies. This is the one that has probably caused me the greater problem of the two to be honest. Now I am not a person who has the availability in my house to have a dedicated hobby area where most things are laid out constantly and it can be easy to sit down for ten minutes or half an hour and do a little painting when you get chance. The whole actual sitting down can take in excess of half an hour itself to get everything sorted so that only adds to the whole stress factor.

How Do We Alleviate Burnout?

So what have I learnt? First off be realistic about your availability of time you can apply to your output. A lot of suggestions to conquering the hobby burnout are "Sign up for a tournament!" and "Join a hobby pledge!" Now while I understand the setting of deadlines will work for some I can’t see how adding another factor of stress in making that commitment can help.

Secondly never try and compare the stuff you produce to anyone else’s! The times I have got disheartened looking at what others talent can produce are countless, and it’s a fool’s errand to try. I mean even if you were to talk with some of the top names they would always say how in awe they are of others painting and how they wish they could be as good as them. That moment when I realised this is probably as good as I am ever going to do and being totally happy with it myself was a massive relief in my hobby life and at the end of the day you are always going to be your worst critic.




So is there anything else that has helped me to get through to the other side of this hobby burnout? Yes there was and a lot of this is so simple that it is often overlooked.




Tiredness is one of the biggest contributors to stress, it is as true in everyday life as it is in hobby, so maybe not staying up to early hours of the morning doing hobby, then say going to work, and then back to late night hobby sessions will be a good thing in the long run.

Take a break! As silly as it seems the old adage of a break is as good as a rest is still so apt. So if you feel yourself starting to get a little irate and stressed, walk away for even a few minutes. Get some fresh air or coffee, go play with your children, or whatever.

Clear your mind! As with above during a break completely disconnect yourself. I have often found the worst things is if I get that irritated feeling is to jump on social media with the intentions of maybe catching up with friends and then getting embroiled with a conversation can often only heighten your stress levels.

Lastly, and this is the most important point of all, as much as you feel they are the issues you have you are not the first nor will be the last person to go through them. Discussion and getting the problems talked through can be the most effective way to relieve them.

Thank you for your time to read through this article which I hope will be the first of many that I write with the Bolt Action Alliance. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing and in fact just doing this and sharing has in some way helped with my own burnout issue so thanks to you for that.

Till next time.



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There you have it! Hobby burnout is something I think a lot of us deal with to varying degrees, myself and some of the other lads included. Reading Kieran's truth-bombs, the causes seem pretty obvious and ironically the solutions even moreso! I'm definitely going to bookmark this article and give it a quick review for those times I just can't bring myself to pick up a brush. Tiredness is one of the ones I struggle with the most, for sure. The other one used to be comparing my work to that of others. I'm no Bryan, no Patchimus... but I'm happy with the results I'm getting and THAT is the key.

Hopefully this article will be of some help to you as it was for Kieran to write, and for me to read/edit. Remember that at the end of the day, this is a hobby and it's supposed to be fun!

- Seamus

Game on!
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