Books I have read and recommend.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Reasonably Priced Realestate

Hi Guys
Well let's face it, we all want great terrain, but none of us want to spend too much because, well;
we all want great miniatures!
Terrain however really can make the difference between a game that looks good or looks FANTASTIC.
Part of the appeal of Miniature games is the eye candy, otherwise we'd simply play boardgames, right?

As some might be aware I did a comparison of two 'La Haye Sainte' models recently and BATTLEFIELD ACCESSORIES' offering was one of the farm sets I looked at.

Well the good news is Mike Parker has gone into a partnership with another chap and they have finally got around to creating a true ONLINE presence.

BELOW: The BA Church and below that the 'Destroyed' version

You can now purchase BATTLEFIELD ACCESSORIES (BA) terrain ONLINE!

The terrain is of excellent quality and very competitively priced .
I refer you back to my LA HAYE SAINTE review to get an impression of what I'm talking about.

The range is extensive:
Futuristic Buildings, Bunkers and Fortifications
Houses (both intact and destroyed)
MASSIVE 17th Century Star Forts
Inca / Aztec Temples
Japanese Castles
and on and on we go,...
with more to come I'm sure.

Nothing flimsy, and easy to construct BA Terrain is both easy on the eye AND affordable.
For me, they are my ONE STOP TERRAIN SHOP!

BELOW: What can be done,.. just some of the 'Pimping' I'm doing at the moment to my BA Factory. Painting still to be done.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

So You're a Platoon Commander! Comparing Chain of Command and Bolt Action

Hi Guys

I've been meaning to do a comparison of these two rule systems for a considerable time but other things just simply get in the way, like other projects (Commissions, my ongoing La Haye Sainte project, painting 100s of Perry Miniatures, and building lots and lots of terrain,..).
Well finally here it is.
Now before I start I just want to say that I'm looking at the two systems through the eyes of a soldier (Artilleryman) of 33 years service (both in a pure training environment and operationally).
Yes, I know they are both 'Games' and playability and pure enjoyment must sit at the top of the list, but some level of realism must in my opinion be evident, otherwise why not simply play Warhammer Fantasy?
I've played about 5 games now of both systems and found both to be enjoyable and challenging.
One system was however MORE challenging, realistic and for me personally, enjoyable.
So let's look at each systems.
BELOW: A Brit Airborne 6 Pdr covering down a road somewhere in Holland.

Bolt Action (BA) is produced by Warlord Games and works on a system where for each Squad (or Section), AFV, Artillery Piece, vehicle or small team (Artillery Observer for example) you and your opponent get one 'Command Die'. All the dice go into a single opaque container and are drawn randomly. As a die comes out the owner of that die can issue 1 of 6 different commands (RUN, ADVANCE, FIRE, AMBUSH, RALLY, DOWN) to his troops as he sees fit. Very suspenseful stuff!

Produced by Too Fat Lardies, Chain Of Command (CoC) works much differently.
Depending on the Quality of your force you get to roll 4 (poor quality) 5 (Regular or standard quality) or 6 (Elite or hardened well trained Veterans).
At the start of your turn you roll your allocated dice.
For each 1 you roll you can activate a small team
For a 2 a Section together with its leader
For a 3 a Section Commander (Leader) with his Section
For a 4 a senior leader such as the Platoon Sergeant, (if you have one) or the Platoon Commander)
A roll of a 5 goes towards building up CoC die, and once you have one of these then there are all sorts of options open to you, like declaring an ambush, interrupting an opponents move, relocating a sniper team, to mention just some.
A 6 is a 'Phasing' Die and let's just say multiple 6s are a good thing.

Pre Game Preparation
In Bolt Action (BA) you select or dice for a scenario, set up and play
In Chain of Command (CoC) you select or dice for a scenario and then enter what is called the 'Patrol Phase'. This is like a mini game within the larger game.
It represents scouts or recon patrols probing ahead of your main force and establishing what is referred to as Jump Off Points (JOP).
It is from these JOPs your troops enter the table, and the loss of which can have catastrophic consequences.

It's a fixed distance in BA.
For example Infantry run 12 inches without firing or 6 inches if the wish to move AND then fire. Terrain will obviously have effects on movement but you KNOW how far your boys will move FOR CERTAIN.
In CoC it's variable, based on moving one D6 if moving tactically, maintaining a low profile for example, (maybe they are leopard crawling or monkey running).
Normal movement is 2D6 or 1 D6 to move AND fire, (or fire and then move)
"At The Double," 3D6 is a pell-mell 'Rush' and pick up some disorder for your trouble!
So in other words each individual Section / Squad will move as they see as appropriate depending on whether or not the Section Commander or Squad Leader has told them to "keep low lads"! or "Move it boys"!
This seems more realistic to me.

Coordinated movement.
In BA you can't really coordinate arms with any real certainty.
Here's an Example:
Let's say one of my dice is drawn. I decide to move my Stug III
Then one of my dice is drawn again so I move my Squad behind the Stug III. Excellent!
But I can only move my Stug III and my squad in the same phase IF I get two Die drawn in succession. If this doesn't happen the insane situation can arise where the Stug roles on down the road, leaving the dim witted infantrymen standing in the middle of a perfect firing lane just begging to be blown away.
Now obviously you can increase your chances to coordinate movement by 'counting the dice' as they come out of the bag, and waiting until you know that you have more dice in the bag than the other guy, but this might never happen (particularly if the bad guys have more dice than you due to being of cheaper 'stock')
BELOW: A PzIII in North Africa

In CoC I can quite easily move my AFV down the road with my supporting infantry section right behind it (for cover) or either side of it (protecting it from enemy with Anti-tank weapons)
And to do this SHOULD be easy.
It's my phase of turn 2.
I have regular US Armoured Infantry (5 Command Dice)
I roll and get 3, 2, 3, 5, 6
The 6 means next 'Phase' is the Italians (my opponents)
The 5 means I've scored one CoC Die! (Only 5 to go).
I use the one of the 3s to get my SGT to put my MMG 'Team' on Overwatch.
I use the other 3 to order my M4 Sherman tank down the road (the MMG is coving its movement in case any Italian Paratroopers with a Panzerfaust pop up) and I use the 2 to have a Squad of infantry move normally behind the tank.
The infantry might not be right up behind the tank,.. But they won't be simply left 12 inches behind.

Let's look at Ambushing
Ambushes in BA aren't true ambushes.
There's no,..
"Holy cow! Where did they come from"?
In other words they are really just in Overwatch.
The Ambush order in BA still leaves the ambushers in plain sight on the table.
I can see you, and if I can see you I can engage you, therefore you're not 'in ambush'.
There are rules in BA covering 'Hidden Troops', but for reasons I can't quite understand they are still deployed on the table in plain sight.
The bonus for them is it's  virtually impossible to actually hit them if shot at!
They lose that bonus if infantry or Recce vehicles approach within 12 inches or other things happen,....

In CoC a Anti Tank team can suddenly appear literally 'out of nowhere' and attempt to put a shaped charge into the side of your tank!
This is done by utilising a CoC dice (remember,.. Rolling '5's accumulates these and once I have scored six '5's I gain one CoC Die) and deploying a small team anywhere within 12inches of a 'Jump off' point but NOT within 6 inces of enemy infantry (they would have acquired the ambushers within that range).

Consequently I see a Sherman moving across a field within 18 inches of one of my JOP    so I declare I'll stage an ambush! I discard my CoC die and place a Panzerfaust team I've held off table for just such an opportunity. Fritz is placed behind a hedge 3 inches from the Sherman and fires!
In CoC it's not wise to have AFVs moving around unsupported by the foxhounds!
Oh, and you better have some troops in 'Overwatch' covering your armour

Close Air Support
Air support in CoC is something totally random and I'm fine with that.
The forces in play in these Skirmish level games really shouldn't simply call up a P47 Thunderbolt. Sorry,... Those assets are held at Battalion or higher level. Probably DIVISIONAL!
Admittedly your force really could be the tip of the spear and yes, at battalion level the FAC needs to be placed somewhere, but that somewhere is usually Battalion Tac Hq or with a Company Commander and maybe he's been sent off with a platoon,..
In BA you can obtain a FAC. Fair enough

Close combat!
When you go into close combat in BA any 'pin' markers (which simulate the 'Shock' or 'Suppression' troops are enduring) are removed!
ALL of them!
Like a wise section commander you've been working like a demon to win the firefight before committing to the hand to hand stuff but now as the entrenching tools and bayonet work is about to start the enemy suddenly finds his guts and fights!
Everyone is now a hero,...
All the shock you've applied is now for naught,...
Now obviously there is an element of what I've just mentioned (guys throwing up their hands or simply refusing to fight) taking place and the 'results' will be seen in the final outcome of the hand to hand combat.
It's simply abstracted into the results.
Hand to Hand is usually not simultaneous in BA,...
If your unit has been activated and you're in the 'open' then there is little chance you'll be able to fight back as the attacker will mete out his hits before you do. Only if you have some guys still standing can you reply.
I just don't like the fact that unless your defenders are behind an obstacle they don't fight simultaneously with their attackers.
There appears to be more abstraction taking place in BA to simplify the game and that's ok by me. Game design is always a compromise between realism and playability.

In CoC in almost all circumstances both sides fight EXCEPT in the situation where one side has an advantage in combat dice of 4 to 1 or greater.
In that case the weaker side routs immediately in a terrible state of shock!
Otherwise it's brutal and it's possible both participants can be wiped out,.. As it should be.
Close Combat in CoC, (like most things) is slightly more complex than in BA.

Small Arms Firepower:
In CoC a German MG 42 generates 8 dice which is over half the sections Firepower
In BA it generates 4 dice less then half!
That speaks volumes (pardon the pun) about both sets of rules!
In CoC the Machine Gun is king!
Well at least as far as the Germans are concerned. Looking at a German infantry section you soon see that the section is built around the MG34/42.
But looking at a Brit section you see manoeuvre is the name of the game, with the Bren not providing as much punch.
Consequently the Platoon Commander in CoC is better off playing his sections historically.
The German trying to dominate with his excellent LMGs (often by 'Attaching' the Section Commander to the LMG team to add extra dice) and the Brit relying on manoeuvre and the excellent accuracy of the Bren to target specific teams within the enemies forces.
BELOW: German Infantry with PINS or SHOCK

In BA when you score a hit on the enemy, whether it be one hit or several you only inflict 1 pin marker.
To be fair, if you inflict 50% or more casualties you do trigger a 'Do or Die' moral test.
By contrast in CoC you might not cause any actual casualties when you engage an enemy section squad or team but you may inflict so much 'shock' on them they become paralysed or even break in flight!

Tactical Flexibility
In BA you start with Teams or Sections / Squads, (which can be as big or as small as you wish  within certain parameters). During game play you can't form a 'Team' from a 'Section'. For example, a section commander can't order his scouts to move to the intersection and check out that area, or send his Bren team off to a far flank.
Now you could I guess work around this by creating your sections / squads using two dice per squad. That us to say one die for 1 NCO with a SMG and 4 riflemen and another for a LMG team of 1 NCO and 4 men (2 manning a LMG) thus creating your German Squad. In effect 2 dice per section / squad, but that creates other issues and still leaves you with two independent 'teams' that might not be able to coordinate their movement and can't merge and split as the Squad leader desires.
In CoC this is possible. The Section command can splinter of small teams to perform tasks and then reconstitute his section, just as in reality.
As a platoon commander you and your sections have that tactical flexibility in CoC. You don't in BA.

Orbats or 'Lists':
Bolt Action lists look to me like something out of Warhammer 40k.
Seriously, you can 'pick n mix' pretty much to your hearts content.
You don't select historically accurate sections or squads in BA. Rather you 'Purchase' teams of about 5 men (on average I'd say) or teams that you can increase to proper squad strengths. As noted this can create a situation where you could conceivably create a squad or section consisting of 10 men with TWO Command Dice.
Games could well be decided by who can throw together the 'gamyest' order of battle rather than who possessed the best tactical grasp of what's going on.

CoC lists detail the specifics of each platoon type and then give that platoon a force 'Rating' which goes toward indicating what 'Support' options you can choose.
Anything from (for the British Motor Platoon in 1944) a single 'Sticky Bomb' or some barbed wire to a Churchill Crocodile Tank with a Junior Leader!
CoC lists drive you toward historically accurate orders of battle (Orbats) and support options.
Both rules sets allow for some limited 'National Characteristics'.
As viewed through a Periscope, (handy for 'TRUE Line Of Sight' games like CoC and BA)
A Brit Cromwell tank comes undone AND "Don't bunch up boys"!

In summary
Both systems will provide you with an enjoyable challenging game.
Both systems are well supported.
But here's one of my bigger gripes with BA,...
The poorer (points wise cheaper) quality your troops are the more troops (and as a consequence) 'Command dice' you'll get!
This is crazy as it supposes the worse your troops are the more likely you are to gain the initiative.
In CoC the better your troops the more dice you get and the more likely you are to gain the initiative and the better your Command and Control is.
For game balance in CoC the Green Troops will either gain more support options or lessen their opponents support options.

Warlord Games have been churning out plenty of Army Lists and for about $40 a book you can buy them, and they are very nice books indeed with lots of great Osprey Publishing illustrations.
There are lots of podcasts supporting BA also.
Too Fat Lardies also gave done a good job in supporting Chain of Command with two RULES Supplement!
Big CoC focuses on having a Tank or Assault Gun force as the basis of your command and At The Sharp End provides rules for playing a campaign!
There is also three (at this time) mini campaign books:
29 Go,
Kampfgruppe Luck,
Old Hickory.
All army lists are FREE for download from the TFL forum and they have lists covering not just WW2 but also the Spanish Civil War!
There are moves afoot to produce a modern version of CoC called 'Fighting Season' and a WW1 variant is also available.
Both systems provide online video tutorials via YouTube
I HIGHLY recommend you watch both for an excellent introduction to both systems.
Hell. I could simply post both YouTube links and save myself all this writing,...
Here they are (grab a hot chocolate and a Tim Tam or two and enjoy):
Chain Of Command 

Bolt Action has a huge following and finding someone to play against in most clubs certainly shouldn't be a challenge.
It's simplicity makes it ideal for introducing people to the period and I myself use BA to introduce youngsters to Wargaming.
If you want to have some fun, push some WW2 soldiers around a table and can live with some oddities then Bolt Action is great!
For me however Chain Of Command is much more challenging and realistic and it truly feels like I'm commanding a WW2 Platoon for only a very slight increase in complexity.
I really appreciate the effort the guys at TFL have gone to produce such a realistic yet elegantly simply system.
From experience I can tell you Chain Of Command is as close as you'll get to the real thing.
Here are some relevant LINKS:
The CoC Forum
Too Fat Lardies
The BA Forum

UPDATE: CoC is on SALE! 20% OFF for Sept 2015
Link here:

Monday, August 3, 2015


Hi Guys
I've been adding a lot of 28mm (1:56th Scale) WW2 miniatures and Armour to my collection of late.
This is due to my fascination with Too Fat Lardies FANTASTIC WW2 Platoon Level rules 'Chain Of Command (CoC).
I've really been impressed with the BLITZKRIEG and JTFM range of Resin Kits as well as the rather inexpensive OLD GLORY 'Berlin Or Bust' range of WW2 Miniatures and AFVs and Guns / Vehicles which are quite servicable for those counting their pennies.
Another good 'Economical' option is the Italeri plastic kits.
The kits come with transfers, glue, a tiny dropper bottle of paint and a reasonable paint brush.
I purchased two of these 'Bread and Butter' tanks from WarTime Miniatures here in Australia for $54 plus postage (another $7.50) which is a pretty competitive price for two Main Battle Tanks.

The Kit is pretty simple and provides you with a nice Mk.IV Cromwell with the option to add a 'Bocage Plough' which is a really nice touch.
The turret is removable and the main gun moves up and down though I'll be fixing mine so it stays level rather than hanging limp in the turret.
You also get decals for either a British or Polish tank. Again very nice.
Unfortunately there is no Crew Figures, even though you can have hatches modeled 'Unbuttoned' (open).
Not a deal breaker as the PERRY'S do a nice tank crew set.
There is plenty on detail on the kit and should paint up quite nicely.
The paint, glue and brush are useful, however I discovered glue in a bottle with a brush applicator can be a dangerous thing, with me knocking a bottle over and spilling about half the contents over my workspace. Fortunately the result was simply some wasted glue but it could have been much worse.

I'll post some photos of this tank once I've painted her up.


Sunday, August 2, 2015


Hi Guys
Well I've returned from my trip to Belgium and did the whole visit Waterloo thing.
Some good news first from Mike Parker at BATTLEFIELD ACCESSORIES who has produced MDF roofs for his outstanding La Haye Sainte Farm Set.
you can see  my review of the Original Farm set here:

Here are some photos of the new roof sets
Much easier to construct and sturdier.

 BELOW: The original 'Sheds' with card roofs in brown and the replacement set with MDF roofs. Also the replacement roof for the farm's main gate.
 BELOW: The MDF Roof kits.

 BELOW: The new MDF Sheds

I also popped into EUREKA MINIATURES and these chaps caught my eye.
I have no idea what they are, but who doesn't want a trumpet being played by a portly chap using his arse and a horse being ridden by a giant rat bursting out of a corpse?

Finally, Eureka are also producing these awesome WINGED and 'Mechanically Enhanced' GORILLAS!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Tale of Two Farms. Part Three

ABOVE: The Duke inspects the BA farm house (left) and the WLG farm house on the right

Hi Guys
Well we're finally here. Part 3 of my review of the WARLORD GAMES (WLG) and BATTLEFIELD ACCESSORIES (BA) La Haye Sainte Waterloo (LHS) farm set.

A reminder I'm just reviewing the actual MODEL that comes in the Box Set, which also includes plastic and metal miniatures (see PART ONE).

The first thing I noticed when I commenced construction of the WLG kit was the poorer quality of the material compared to (BA) kit (see PART TWO).
This kit from WLG is made from a much thinner and flimsier material. It's more like really thick cardboard rather than the thicker MDF(?) type material in the BA kit.  
BELOW: Compare the pair. BA material on the left and the thinner WLG material on the right

The instructions however are a different story. They are very professionally produced and assembly is simply as long as you follow the instructions. You could probably get the job done without the instructions but hey, they are provided, they are clear and easy to follow. 
BELOW: BA farm house on the left and WLG on the right

The level of interior details on the WLG version is very light on in comparison to the BA version.
Actually, apart from some interior walls within the Stable there is no interior details at all.
No second floor in the Farm House. No loft in the barn.
All of the various buildings are set upon 'bases' that interlock with the other bases upon which the other buildings are built.
This makes for a sturdy base however it does limit the versatility of the set. I want to be able to use the various buildings as stand alone buildings for other games like CHAIN OF COMMAND, FORCE ON FORCE or BOLT ACTION for example.

 ABOVE and BELOW: The WLG Farm House. No steps leading into the house, no interior details / walls and no second story. Just a big empty shell.

 ABOVE and BELOW: The Main Gate / Gate house. 
Best bit? The gates are hinged and freely swing open and shut. Cool!
Worst bit? Its affixed to this big arse base!

Construction was knocked over pretty quickly and took about two thirds of the time it took to assemble the BA version.
The roof construction was particularly easy.
If I could have the same system of roofing for the BA model I'd be beside myself. WLG version is much simpler and more robust I think.
BELOW: The WLG Barn and the BA Barn. Notice the loft in the BA version on the right.

 All in all however the BA Model is much more impressive and more robust due to the higher quality of the materials used in construction. Only the roofing is superior in the WLG version.
Furthermore the level of detail is superior in the BA kit.
Also the 'Online' support from Mike Parker is great, what with the Video Tutorials on YouTube and his own Facebook Page (search 'Battlefield Accessories').
You do however get an additional wall and small building (cook house maybe?) with the WLG version.
I'd be very keen to see which is the more historically correct kit.
The WLG LHS does come with a few extra pieces worth mentioning.
Two wagons, a small plough, three tables and six chairs, (for barricades or dinner), and some branches for barricades.
Also, you get some cardboard 'detailing' items for creating open shutters near windows and framing for windows and gates etc. (See Below)

 ABOVE and BELOW: Details of the WLG LHS farm yard and 'extra' bits.


I think that the BA set is of better quality, more versatile, more detailed and excellent value for money.
The WLG offering is slightly easier to assemble (particularly the roofs) but isn't as flexible due to the individual buildings being affixed to some rather large bases.
Furthermore the BA set is the Farm Set and the Farm Set alone.
The WLG set comes with a swag of miniatures that you may not need or like.
The wagons and furniture are nice, but I can always purchase those things if I want them.
For me it's the QUALITY of the buildings / models that clinches the deal and why I give a nod in the direction of the BA version.
If however you do like the Warlord Games Miniatures and you're not too fussed on the detail of the actual farm itself the the WLG set is certainly worth considering.
As they say,...
"Ya pays ya money and ya makes ya choice".

 ABOVE and BELOW: The complete WLG LHS Farm set with roofs ON (above) and OFF (below). Notice the extra length of wall and small building in the bottom right corner

BELOW: The complete BA LHS set. Roofing removed. Noticed the second story in the farm house, and loft in the barn and small room in the stables.

 BELOW: Both the WLG (left) and BA (right) complete LHS Farm sets

I hope you find this review useful.
If so feel free to make comment.