Saturday, December 20, 2014

Gamecraft Miniatures' 1:600 Buildings

A company that has recently joined the 3mm / 1:600 movement is Gamecraft Miniatures:

Gamecraft produce a wide range of scenery, for 1:285 and other scales. In recent months, however, they've converted some of the 1:285 scale products and added them as 1:600 items to the range. The owner, Allen, provides great service and is very passionate about his products, which I think is fantastic.

When they came out a few months ago, I ordered some of their buildings, to add to my city-scapes. Unfortunately I'd been lazy since then and not assembled them for use. But I recently rectified this, and the assembled buildings featured in my most recent battle report.

recent BATREP - the high-rise buildings are all from Gamecraft.
The models are made of nice sturdy laser-cut card, and are easy to assemble. Being laser-cut, they are very crisp and accurate, and go together easily with just some white-glue. They come in multiple parts, as shown below:

The buildings are very nice once assembled, with plenty of window and door openings. Easy to paint too - I just spray painted mine, then gave them a bit of a dry-brush for weathering. For extra sturdiness, I based mine up but this probably isn't necessary.

Assembled building.
6-story High-rise apartment style.
I think in a pinch, you could use them like this, unpainted, for cold-war era concrete apartment blocks and the like. The grey cardboard doesn't look too bad. For mine, though, I spray under-coated them and painted them.

Some other buildings based up.
Factory buildings. For some reason these ones came with no roof sections?
A bit annoying, but easy to fix - cut some card or plastic-card sheet to size and glue it on.
The unpainted single-story buildings (behind) are monopoly-style buildings supplied by PicoArmor.

Another industrial building - I like this one...

High-rise buildings in various shapes, heights and sizes. Good variety.
After painting, I think they are improved by sticking some card on the inside, so you can't see straight through the buildings. Black card is good, but tinted plastic-sheet could also work very nicely. 

More industrial buildings.
On the right is one of my favourites - a large bombed-out factory.
This is the building I used as the objective in my last BATREP.
Again, I've added a plasti-card roof. I need to add some rubble and debris to the building too.
Gamecraft also does a 1:600 option for his 'Modular Terrain System', utilising hexagonal MDF tiles. There is also a road system that can be purchased with this. If I didn't already have lots of Hexon terrain, I might have considered this as an option - it looks very reasonably priced, compact for storage, and good quality.

Overall, Gamecraft's products are a good addition to the options for 3mm scenery. I would like to see some additional items down the track, particularly some smaller buildings. I think these should be do-able in the same 1:600 card-stock? Items like rows of townhouses and shops, plus middle-eastern buildings would be great additions in my opinion.

Friday, December 19, 2014

BATREP: City Assault

My regular opponent, John, and I played out a fairly brutal Fistful of TOWs scenario last night.

I recently assembled and painted some city buildings purchased from Gamecraft Miniatures a while back, when they first released their new 1:600 terrain line. These are very nice laser-cut card-stock buildings, which look great, but more on these another time!

Needless to say, I  wanted to set up a table to try out a city-fight of some sort. The battlefield was as shown below:

the battlefield - view from the south
I've also recently finished painting up the majority of my Australians for my campaign setting, so of course those had to be used too. The result? I randomly rolled for a scenario to play over the battlefield, to involve Aussies against the REDs.

This time, the scenario was to be a "deliberate attack", with the Aussies (BLUE) defending against the RED attackers. The REDs would have 10,000 points and the option to take pre-planned artillery and airstrikes, whilst BLUE would have 5,000 points with the option to buy prepared defences.

In line with the scenario description in the FFT3 rulebook, the scenario objective was a suitable feature within the defender's deployment zone. I had one of the Gamecraft buildings that fitted the bill - a very large bombed-out factory, which I decided was a key munitions factory to be captured by RED.

The BLUE pre-battle sketch plan.
Strong defences in the town, oriented W and SW.
Some minefields (about 800 x 100m in ground scale),
some entrenchments and several wire emplacements
RED pre-battle sketch plan (plus fire-plan).
The main assault with two Mech-Infantry battalions and some attack helos in the centre,
through a route covered from observation,
supported by the Brigade and Divisional artillery in a pre-planned rolling barrage.
Holding attacks on both flanks with Tank Battalions.

the plans super-imposed on each other... should be interesting...
Aussie Platoons deployed on the W city outskirts

...and more, facing SW
Aussie Rifle Company dug-in (in light woods), to the S of the city

Aussie Cavalry Reconnaissance Vehicles ("Goanna" CRVs in my campaign setting) in over-watch on the east flank

Two RED Mech Battalions advance up the lightly wooded valley, approaching the city.
A company of Mi-28s accompany the advance.

RED T-90 battalion (with a Tunguska Platoon) approach the city through the woods from the West

T-90s move into column to stay in cover...

Mi-28s cross over the ridgeline to the west...

...and get spotted and pinned by artillery!!

The lead RED battalion of infantry dismounts and advances.
Covering smoke-screen from the battalion 120mm mortars.
All going well so far...

the Aussie reserve company deploys to the threatened area...

...still going nicely for the REDs, continuing to advance through the wooded valley...

...until a sloppy platoon-commander allows his men to break cover!
The company on the battalion's right flank gets pinned by 155mm ICM Artillery.

The Aussie CRVs continue to's too quiet on the eastern flank?...

The REDs keep stoking the smoke-screen with both Infantry Battalions' Mortars.
View of the Aussie defences through the smoke screen.
The reserve company has arrived to stiffen the defence.

Turn 4 - a lot happens!!
The REDs advanced and formed-up behind their smoke-screen for the previous three turns.
The RED pre-planned artillery fire-plan kicks in....
BM-27s, and 3x battalions of 2S19s from the Divisional Artillery smash the forward Platoons(!!)
A couple of platoons fail quality checks (destroyed) and the remainder are pinned.
The plan is going well, good prep-fire, now time for the assault... 

...but aaargh, a buried mine-field!! The battalion in line all hit it at once!
The assault is officially bogging down...
(game note: there's a 50% chance of  hitting mines.
Half the assaulting infantry must take quality checks.
As "Fair" troops they pass on 6+. Many of them fail and die!)
...meanwhile, on the western flank,
the T-90 battalion shakes out into a lovely assault formation...

...cops an incoming Javelin...

...returns fire and clears out the offending BLUE platoon...

...then gets a FASCAM artillery-delivered mine-field dropped on it!

The CRVs, continue to watch the Eastern flank and,
to their alarm, a T-90 battalion enters from the south!
Two troops of CRVs facing a battalion of T-90s. Ouch!
(Game note: the T-90s were my 'flank marching' battalion,
which failed to arrive every turn until turn five!)
A combat-team comprising two troops of Aussie M1A1s and a company of Infantry
mounted in CV-90s ("Waler" IFVs in my campaign setting) had been guarding the northern flank.
Upon hearing the report that the T-90s had entered from the south,
this combat-team realised they were out of the fight and had to head towards the action.
They crossed the river, and moved towards the fighting... 

This picture provides an idea of the threat these M1A1's pose.
South of the ridge is my T-90 battalion bogged in a FASCAM minefield.
To the north of the wooded ridgeline in the Aussie tanks approaching their flank at speed...
The T-90 battalion advances out of the minefield, leaving some more burning wrecks behind.
One company peels off to the north to offer some flank protection from the approaching Oz tanks...
The CV-90s follow across the river...
...meanwhile back in the centre, the assault gets moving again.
The pre-planned artillery barrage rolls forward,
pinning and killing the defenders caught under it.
The BMP-3s and remaining infantry push bravely through
the minefield and close-assault the defenders...
...casualties are heavy, not least because of three (!!) platoons destroyed by Excalibur PGMs,
but they clear the way. A successful assault.
The artillery and assaulting mech-infantry battalion have destroyed two companies of Aussie Infantry,
but in the process, the battalion has lost nearly two-thirds of its men...

...time to push the 2nd battalion through,
but there's still the small matter of the minefield still remaining.
So the 2nd battalion loses some time,
crossing over the narrow wooded ridgeline to the west and then striking NE again towards the city.
This photo shows an aerial view of the situation half way through the game...

The T-90 battalion fights into the city.
Tanks with no infantry support against defending Infantry - this is not going to be pretty...

The M1s get closer...
...followed closely by the CV-90s...

The Aussies fall back, and consolidate their position in the city...

...while the Aussie M1 and CV-90 combat-team ploughs into the T-90 battalion's flank.
The M1s quickly dispatch two platoons of T-90s, but the third miraculously survives!
The Aussie infantry dismount in the woods...

...the surviving T-90 platoon costs the Aussies...
it calls in an air-strike; two flights of Su-25s, loaded up with guided-bombs and napalm!
Unfortunately, an Aussie RBS-70 SAM is in range and scares off one of the Su-25 flights...
but the other makes the Aussie counter-attack pay dearly.
One of the M1A1 troops is hit by guided bombs and an Aussie Infantry platoon wears the Napalm.
Both destroyed!

The 2nd RED Mech battalion moves into the assault, from the west of the city...

...taking some heavy casualties from ICM artillery missions in the process... add insult to injury,
the surviving T-90 platoon destroys the second M1 platoon with close range gunnery...
...before getting destroyed by a Javelin...

...meanwhile, in the south-east, the T-90 battalion advances and dispatches a CRV...
...the second CRV troop withdraws into the city...

...the T-90 battalion moves towards the city, from the south, at high speed along the road...

...the Aussie survivors pull back and consolidate around the Munitions Factory...

...and the second CRV troop gets smoked by volley fire from a battalion of T-90s!!...
At this stage it was turn 9 (of a 10-turn game). I took stock of my position:

The city fighting had been brutal. I had lost most of my two infantry battalions, and my western T-90 battalion had also suffered heavily (unsupported against infantry) in the city fighting.

I couldn't see anything (bad visibility in the city), so no spotters to call my Artillery in. And my troops were moving too slow after the rapidly retreating Aussies ("there's no shame in a tactical withdrawal", says John!) to conduct a coordinated assault into the factory and hold it on turn 10.

My only chance was to assault with my intact T-90 battalion into the city, unsupported by infantry (again!). I had seen what had happened when I did that and didn't fancy it. So I conceded that I couldn't take my objective and withdrew, handing the Aussies a narrow 1-0 scenario win.

If I had been more alert, I should have counted how many casualties I had inflicted. After the game, I realised I only needed to destroy one more platoon to force a quality check (on 5+, for two-thirds of the formation destroyed) to see if they quit the field. I should have sent in my T-90 battalion, which would have suffered but had a good chance of causing at least one casualty.

All up, it was very close, and a great game!!

What did I learn?:

1. Helicopters are useless on a battlefield dominated by complex terrain (mine did absolutely nothing, except for one getting shot down by an RBS-70...).

2. In a deliberate assault, have the engineers on hand to breach unexpected minefields!

3. Masses of Artillery doing a rolling prep fire barrage works quite nicely in a deliberate attack.

4. ICM is brutal when you bunch your forces up too much.

5. The Mechanised Brigade (2 Mech Inf, 2 Tank Battalions) is probably not the one I should have used. I needed the "right tools for the right job"?! Of the formations at the disposal of the RED Expeditionary Army commander, a Motorised Brigade (3 Motorised Infantry, 1 Tank Battalions) probably would have been more suitable for an Urban assault. For the same points, I could have taken a reinforced Motorised Brigade, with 5 Motorised Infantry Battalions and the Tank Battalion (with companies allocated in close support of the infantry battalions). I think that may have been better for the close infantry assaults required in this scenario.

Lots more, but too much to cover!!