Archive for the Games Category

Heralding a New Year!

Posted in Blather, Games, WIP on January 2, 2014 by stingersix

One of the last miniatures I completed in 2013 was this Herald of Khorne.

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While I like the model, it’s Finecast and was a bit of a pain to prep – soooo many bits to trim and flash to remove. Also, the smaller pointy bits, like the claws are super fragile and a couple of them broke off. The sword also broke at the hilt. This model in plastic would be so much better. Anyway, it came out nice, so i just need to handle with care. I also did another squad of Bloodletters but you know what those look like so no pics this time.

My mono-Khorne Daemon army is nearing what I will call “complete”. My next main unit will be a Soul Grinder (and another accompanying squad of Bloodletters). Once they’re done, I should be able to get about 1850 points of Big Red Angry Daemons on the table. At that point, I mean to make a small force of accompanying Chaos Space Marine allies (for the shooty-ness, which Khorne daemons utterly lack). This will be a simple force – Kharne and a squad of Berzerkers rolling in a Land Raider. I need Troops though and for that I will use the Cultists from the Dark Vengeance box.

The Land Raider will be an interesting build. I have a trashed LR hull I got at the EndGame minis swap meet last year that I intend to restore. I figure a CSM Warpsmith hauled the burned out hulk off a battlefield somewhere and is dreaming up ways to revive and corrupt its machine spirit. I need to buy a few bits for it – lascannon sponsons and hatches and whatnot. It will be blood red of course, and I picked up some Forge World etched brass Khorne icons for it too.

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40K will not be my only miniatures project focus this year of course. We are getting ready to go full throttle with Dropzone Commander at the store this year, and we even have a demo day for the game coming up on January 18th! I’ve been getting more and more excited about playing DZC. It’s fast tempo and scale is a refreshing change of pace from the relatively plodding pace of 40K. I’m working on my second set of UCM minis from the starter set and I’m looking forward to expanding my army with additional units.

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And you see that Sherman tank on the work table there? That is of course for Bolt Action, the WW2 minis game that we’re also hoping to give a bit of a push to at the store this year as well. I have almost finished the last of the infantry platoon that I’m working on at the store (about 45 models) which will give me a good selection of stuff to play around with. I have yet to actually play Bolt Action, but I’m looking forward to it.

SAGA is also occupying my painting schedule at the moment. We are kicking off a new campaign at the store in February, and I am preparing to paint an army of Jomsvikings. These models by Gripping Beast are fairly easy and quick to paint and I will probably get onto them later this month. They’re assembled and based and ready to prime. 20140102_075729SAGA continues to be a favorite game of mine and it’s got a solid following at the store. I had a good time playing the Anglo-Danes last year and the Jomsvikings are a power army that I’m excited about fielding.

 

All this painting has me looking at ways to push my skills a bit more, and the one thing I’ve been trying to do for a while is learn to really use an airbrush. I’ve been occasionally using a cheap one for basecoating and such, and I have to say it’s been a challenge. But as I gradually get the hang of it, I think it’s time to try and really push myself. I asked for and received a Badger SOTAR 20/20 airbrush for Christmas (thanks Mom!).

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This airbrush is designed for detail work, capable of hairlines and generally small patterns. I can still use a cheap airbrush for basecoating, but this one I hope will allow me to really get some interesting effects done. I need to buy a compressor and I’ll use some Xmas money for that. I’m still on the very steep side of the airbrush learning curve and it will take time and practice before I feel comfortable with it, but I’m looking forward to getting there!

Man, that’s four games I’m painting minis for at the moment! No wonder I feel like I have no time! I’ve been keeping all this straight by using a kanban board, specifically, Kanban Flow. You can do this with a pen and paper, or post-it notes but the online version is easy enough to use. I also use this to track my work projects for VIZ and it’s great!

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So, it looks like a great start to the new year. Lots of cool games to play and minis to paint, and I’m excited to see what new things hit the gaming tables in 2014!

 

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Dropzone Commander = Win!

Posted in Battle Report, Dropzone Commander, Games with tags , , , on October 23, 2013 by stingersix

Dropzone Commander is, in a word, fun! The Dropzone was commanded!

(Scroll down for pics)

I got my first game in last night with Ian Chadwick. We used the models in the starter set – I played UCM and Ian took the Scourge. DZC was exactly what I was hoping for in a sci-fi minis game; it was dynamic, fast-paced and engaging.

First of all, it looks awesome all set up! The cityscape that comes with the starter set is an inspired bit of design. You get two poster maps, which are different and these fit together to form a grid of city streets. On top of this, you set up 10 card building that are also included. They fold out and are ready to go in no time at all. I usually don’t play without fully painted minis but Ian and I were so hot to try this game we just put them together and went for it. I did manage to get a coat of color primer on them and painted one dropship but even without paint, they looked awesome on the board! When we have our armies fully painted this game is just going to be brilliant! As a longtime Epic Space Marine fan, the larger scale is very appealing to me. You definitely get a greater sense of looking at an entire battlefield, of being in command of an entire operation instead of a smaller tactical engagement.

Any wargame that even attempts to predict the battlefield of the future needs to take the effect of technology on combat doctrine into account. Games like 40K are simply WW2 with lasers. Even Stargrunt (which I still love) is really Vietnam in space. DZC may not hit all the buttons but it certainly feels like it’s hitting a lot of them.

First off, all armies are entirely airmobile, or at least highly mobile (one race, the Shaltari, teleport around the battlefield). This means that the battlefield is a constantly changing environment as units can rapidly redeploy where needed and the game mechanics reflect this. For example, a UCM APC can move 4″ which isn’t horrible but a dropship can pick it up and move it up to 9″ in one turn. Since all units can do this, it means that simply driving forward on the ground is more of a last resort – you only really do it unless your dropships are gone. In the game we played, the APCs drove on the ground the last few inches to their objectives after disembarking from their dropships (which then pulled back into cover somewhere, waiting on station for the call for dustoff).

Many minis games I have played feel very static compared to DZC. Even mobile armies in 40K don’t move like DZC units do (of course the different scales make a difference here). In DZC, if you find that things are happening somewhere else on the battlefield, you really can redeploy all the way across the map in very short order. Early in our game, I flew in with an infantry unit, occupied and objective building on T1, located the objective on T2, then re-embarked and got it off the map! Granted I was lucky on the search roll, but man it was fast!

After that it looked like things were developing on the opposite side of the map, so I started picking up units and flying them over that way. Later, when I found my heavy tanks a bit out of position, again I picked them up and flew them where they needed to be. The ground units did drive around some of course, but when they needed to cover longer distance, they could call in the dropships to pick them up.

So, the game makes the dropships and transports extremely important. Lose your mobility and your chances of success drop rapidly. Late game, one of Ian’s APCs was hauling ass for the board edge with an objective. The only units I had in range that could stop him were my AA tanks, which are fortunately also effective against ground units (unlike Scourge AA tanks). I took out his APC, but his infantry survived (luckily for him). I wasn’t able to stop him from scoring for holding that objective, but there was no way he was getting off the board with those infantry, which wound up diving into a building to hide until game end.

The dynamic game play also means that the momentum and initiative can shift rapidly. I had the lead early on, but Ian was in position to score late game. As unit attrition wore me down, it became clear that Ian was set up for an end run, which he managed to pull off for the win (barely – had I killed his infantry in the destroyed APC, we would have been tied on objectives). The sequence of play uses alternate unit activation, which I vastly prefer over Igo-Ugo systems. Since you roll for initiative every turn, this has a big effect on tactics and your choice of what units to move and when. It also means you’re never sitting around waiting for your turn for very long.

Many weapons have infinite range (basically LOS) unless firing at a unit with active countermeasures, which brings the ranges down to 36″ or (much) less. This feels right as a railgun or laser should have no trouble engaging something it can see. Infantry in the open are thus extremely vulnerable as they have no countermeasures (usually). The best they can hope for is to be ignored. But since they are the only units capable of entering buildings where the objectives often are, they’re priority targets. On foot, they only have a 2″ move. Once they’re inside a building, it’s often better to try and take the building down to kill the infantry (though some buildings are quite tough).

This brings another element of the game into play – CQB (Close Quarters Battle). Infantry vs infantry fights usually are going to happen inside a building, and the game makes this go very quickly. One side or the other will be wiped out or broken in one round. My dice crapped out me (rolling only 3 hits on 12 dice needing 4+ – I rolled 5 1’s and the rest 2’s and 3’s!) and Ian’s Scourge warriors killed two squads and broke the other one. Despite that, I like this – the image of two opposing platoons fighting like vicious rats inside a building captures the tension and terror of CQB quite well.

So, all that put together made for a very fun game. Even though we were stopping often to look things up, I can see that once we have the rules down, this will go much much faster. Understanding how units embark and disembark their transports, the way units move and the possibilities that opens up is the key to DZC.

On top of all that, the story and background is also cool. It has shades of Mass Effect and Babylon 5 running throughout. I like the idea that although humanity lost the Earth, it has recovered and is now launching a massive counteroffensive to take it back. In that regard it is a universe where there is still hope, as opposed to the relentless grimdark of other game worlds. There is also room for more new races in the future, beyond the four already in the game. I understand the Hawk Wargames is working on a rebel army list, allowing you to play the stay-behind survivors of the Scourge invasion, and these guys roll out in these awesome looking Mad Max style trucks and whatnot. The aliens are well thought out too, and the armies really do play quite differently.

To sum up, I’m super happy with the DZC starter set! You get a ton of great stuff for about $100. Just go check it out on the Hawk Wargames website. Ian and I are already looking forward to picking up some of the other units and expanding our armies!

Pics below!

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Dropzone Commander first impression

Posted in Games with tags on October 17, 2013 by stingersix

Just got my hands on a copy of the Dropzone Commander Starter Set. I was interested in this game before but now I’m super hot to play it. The production values are off the chart, the minis are top notch and the game looks like a blast to play. Finding a real high-tech themed, hard-SF minis game these days is not so easy and Dropzone Commander looks to take the top spot here. It strongly reminds me of Mass Effect in its themes (particularly the idea that Earth was lost to alien invaders and humanity is launching a counterattack to reconquer the homeworld) and designs.

You can find videos and pictures of the minis all over the place, so I won’t post any pics till I have the set painted. I’m going straight for the UCM minis since they’re closest to real-world military paint schemes. I figure Army Painter color primer will make these go super quick and I can get them into action fast. Ack, can’t wait to get some painting time in again!

Now, longtime readers of this blog will know I love me some hard-SF gaming and Stargrunt has been my game of choice for that for a long time (even though I haven’t played in a couple years). But Stargrunt always felt a bit dated in terms of the in-universe tech and how it was represented in-game, and especially how the technological capabilities of the races involved was reflected in their combat doctrine. In DZC, the central tactical idea is that the entire force is airmobile and can deploy and redeploy very rapidly. Range is effectively LOS – the whole table – unless your target has countermeasures going. Infantry combat is extremely deadly and troops don’t last long, so their fight is usually contained to the interiors of buildings. Now, maybe DZC doesn’t cover it all perfectly, but it sure feels a lot more like a future-tech battle environment than 40K’s WW2 with lasers or Stargrunt’s Vietnam war in space.

On top of all that, the scale is 10mm, putting it between Epic’s 6mm and Flames of War’s 15mm. Though 10mm may be a bit odd, I love any game that takes battles up to a real company or even battalion level. The sense of being a dropzone commander and not just a platoon leader will definitely be there while playing.

Makes me want to go play Mass Effect again too! 😀

The Legion walks again!

Posted in Battle Report, Blather, Games, Nostalgia with tags , , , on August 30, 2013 by stingersix

Had a game of Epic yesterday for the first time in a long long time (this one was for you, Bruce, you old warhorse)! Looking at my old models, I can see how far my painting has come over the last 20 years! But the old minis still hold up well and it all looks awesome set out on the table. I was very rusty with the rules. but as we played, it all started coming back to me. I absolutely love the grand scale – it’s like playing Apocalypse in 40K, only a lot more manageable! Infantry die like flies, whole tank squadrons get wiped out in one go… fantastic!

The Rising Sun Chapter of the Space Marines and the Legio Tempestus face off against the Death Guard led by Mortarion and the World Eaters near an Imperial city on the edge of the badlands.

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Marines of the Assault company get to grips with a squadron of Chaos Land Raiders and are counter-charged by Bloodletters! In Epic, Assault Marines can actually kick ass!

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Grey Knights take it to Mortarion! The demon Primarch’s plaguewind killed one stand before it burned itself out. In the ensuing combat, the Grey Knights almost took him down, but Mortarion destroyed the Emperor’s finest!

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The Chaos Banelord Titan skulks behind a building. Good thing too, because when it finally emerged into the crosshairs of the Loyalist Warlord Titan…

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ENGINE KILL! The resulting explosion destroyed a nearby building and entirely wiped out the World Eaters swarming at the traitor machine’s feet! AWESOME!

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Ah, what a game! Many thanks to my friend Stephen for playing – it was fun to introduce him (he was 3 years old when I first started playing Epic) to an old game that laid the foundations for much of what 40K is today. Certainly Epic Space Marine was one of GW’s best designs. Too bad they’ve killed it off. But, as long as a game is being played it is never dead. In the far reaches of the galaxy, the armies still clash and the Legions still walk!

ENGINE KILL!!!

SAGA Anglo-Dane warband complete!

Posted in Games, Historical, Minis with tags , on March 7, 2013 by stingersix

I’ve finished painting my SAGA warband (in time for game day on the 10th!). The minis are all by Gripping Beast. They painted up extremely fast compared to the time it took while I was doing my 40K minis, so quite pleased with that. It’s freed me up to start thinking about another project. Anyway, my Anglo-Danes are comprised of: the Warlord, 3 points of Dane-axe huscarls, 1 point of regular huscarls, 3 points of ceorls, 1 point of sling equipped geburs and 1 point’s worth of assorted bannermen (huscarls).

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I’ve enjoyed playing SAGA a lot so far. My first few games I had to figure out how to play the Anglo-Danes and I think I at least understand them, though I’m far from mastering the way they play. I was way too aggressive at first – fighting like a Viking really, and that didn’t work. Now I want to skirmish a bit with the slingers and maybe a unit of warriors, hold the main striking force of huscarls in reserve and position them to go where they’ll do the most damage. Get Fatigue markers all over the enemy, and then when they’re wheezing and blowing with exhaustion, slam into them with a hefty unit of Dane-axe wielding huscarls and the warlord!

SAGA: Win one, lose one

Posted in Battle Report, Games, Historical with tags , on February 20, 2013 by stingersix

Managed to get in two games of SAGA last night (the short play time of SAGA is very attractive). Got creamed the first time and won the second. My opponent was Aaron G., who helps run the SAGA game days at the store. Aaron was playing a Norse-Gael army (sort of like Irish Vikings) and I was rolling with my Anglo-Danes. The Norse Gaels are one of the later factions for the game, and the A-D’s are one of the first, so I was interested in seeing if there had been any “power creep” with the newer armies, as often happens with miniatures games.

In both games we played 6-point warbands. I had 2 pts of huscarls, 3 pts of ceorls (warriors) and 1 pt of geburs (levy) and the requisite warlord. I went all Dane axes with the huscarls and organized them into one big group of 8 (which definitely packs a punch). IIRC, Aaron had 4 pts of ostmen (hearthguard) and 2 pts of warriors, organized into 2 units of 8 ostmen each, and 2 units of 5 warriors and one unit of 6 warriors. We played the first scenario, Clash of Warlords for both games.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the games to post – forgot my camera! Sorry! 😦

In game 1, I made a lot of mistakes. SAGA is a game that really rewards you for making the other player play your game, and I was playing Aaron’s game. I advanced my whole line thinking to engage his formation. I put the Geburs out front and they got off a volley of stones from their slings, killing one Gaelic fighter, but that was all they got the whole game. It was the first time I’ve used ranged units in SAGA and I learned a lot. My center got into it with the Norse Gaels and there I encountered their Challenge ability. The NG’s can issue a challenge and each side puts a figure forward to fight it. Then you roll a d6 and the high roll wins. If the NGs win, they typically can activate some nasty special ability. You can decline to fight the challenge, but if you do, the NGs get their ability at no risk (they lose it if you win). And they can keep doing this. It’s not terribly huge, but it is disconcerting to have all their little tricks firing off on you.

The fight was going against me, even though casualties were about even. I had a unit of warriors badly out of position on my right, slowly trudging through a field and hopping over hedges, and they never saw any action the whole game. I got other units stuck in but the attrition was high and I didn’t have much left when Aaron charged my warlord with his warlord. I’d been spending more dice on moving forward than on abilities detrimental to the enemy, and when Aaron’s warlord challenged mine, I had to accept. He pumped up his warlord with lots of abilities designed to help in challenges, rolled lots of dice, and even going defensive, my warlord was cut to ribbons and the game ended.

We reset for game 2. I knew the Anglo-Danes were built to counterattack, but had been playing them like they were Vikings – moving forward and trying to get stuck in ASAP. Mistake. The AD’s are a mid-to-late game army. They want to stand their ground, spend dice on SAGA abilities that rack up Fatigue on their opponents, and when the enemy is tired out, run in and bash them. I decided to play it smart and a bit more crafty this time. I began with the geburs on my left flank this time, starting behind a hill. I meant to run them over it and start throwing rocks at the NGs. In the center, I had my huscarls and warlord, with a unit of ceorls on his left and two units of ceorls on his right, in a column. This game would be different.

I moved the geburs out and over the hill. They’re just crap levies and hard to command – you need 2 activation dice to move and then shoot. But, they nailed 3 ostmen with their first volley – very good result! The thing about levies is, they’re crap fighters and they don’t do anything for the command and control of your army since they generate no SAGA dice. But, they can be a threat or a speed bump, and if positioned well your opponent can’t ignore them. Now I was playing my game. In the center, I advanced a unit of ceorls but spent most of my dice on AD special abilities that cause Fatigue. These proved to be very useful in the late game – I laid a lot more Fatigue on the Norse Gaels this game and it really hurt them.

So, after that great volley from the geburs, I sent a unit of ceorls in on the weakened ostmen on my left. I used both Lords of Battle and Unforgiving (which can totally exhaust an enemy unit when used together) and even though I was driven back, I caused a decent number of casualties and put a bunch of Fatigue on the ostmen. Then I activated the same ceorls again for another go, this time crushing the remaining ostmen, whose lone survivor then ran off. That unit of warriors finished the activation with 2 Fatigue and would subsequently be destroyed but I expected that and I knew it was forcing Aaron to deal with them while I did other things I wanted to do, namely, whittling down his left flank. One of the two ceorl units on my right advanced up and engaged an NG warrior unit. I eventually lost this fight but again I was able to easily mop up the reduced NG warriors with my second unit of ceorls coming in behind.

Now, the NGs had Fatigue markers all over the place – at least one on every unit that mattered, and with fewer SAGA dice from losses, were having a devil of a time getting anything done. Now it was time to finish the game. I activated my warlord and he and his 8-man unit of Dane Axe wielding huscarls went after the Norse Gael warlord. I had Lords of Battle ready again, used it and rolled 19 dice. The NG warlord was cut to ribbons. Yay!

Lessons learned:

*The Anglo-Danes are a mid-to-late game army. Rushing forward to get stuck in early is for Vikings.

* The AD special abilities can really wear out an opponent with Fatigue and cripple his freedom of action. Played right, they can totally dictate the game and are the key to Anglo-Dane game tactics.

* Dane axe Huscarls in a group of 8 are awesome, but a bit brittle (just a bit) as they’re Armor 4 instead of 5, and since you typically send them in against the best enemy troops, you can lose them quickly. Used with the right combination of abilities though, they’re devastating. They’re for finishing a game and not so much a vanguard unit.

* Levies suck but can be very useful in the right place at the right time. I will never take more than 1 unit of levies but I won’t discount them completely.

Really digging the simplicity and elegance of the SAGA rules!

DUST Warfare Battle Report

Posted in Battle Report, Games with tags , on July 17, 2012 by stingersix

Reposted from the Endgame forums. Sorry, no pics!

Played my first game of DUST Warfare last night against Rob Elling, a gracious and cool guy I might add. I had a lot of fun with the game and I am now very eager to play more. It was a small 150pt game, and since it was the first go for both of us, there was a learning curve as we tried to figure out the rules. As we went along though, the turns got faster (even as the number of units on the board increased) and I found that the concepts in the game were fairly easy to grasp.

One thing I did notice is that the rules are very well-written and even cross referenced, and we were able to find clear answers to most of our in-game questions. There were a few things that were a little confusing, but on careful reading we puzzled them out and the solutions made sense.

Here’s a short batrep.

My force:

Allied Combat Platoon

Upgrade: Improved Command (5)

Command Section: “The Boss” Ranger Command Squad (25)

1st Section: “The Gunners” Combat Ranger Squad (17)

2nd Section: “The Hammers” Heavy Ranger Assault Squad (28)

3rd Section: “Death Dealers” Ranger Weapon Squad (20)

Support: MCW M2-C “Pounder” (40)

Support: “Crack Shots” Sniper Team (12)

 

Rob’s force (from memory, the list below only comes out to 138 pts so Rob, let me know what I missed): Axis Sturmgrenadiere Platoon

Command Section: Kommandotrupp (25)

1st Section: Battle Grenadiers (17)

2nd Section: Laser Grenadiers (21)

3rd Section: Heavy Laser Grenadiers (35)

Support: MPW II-D “Lothar” (40)

We played the March Battle where no forces begin on the board and you get squads each turn. Terrain was arranged in a ring with the center area of the board open.

Turn 1 – I brought my Boss squad and my gunners squad on. The Boss squad moved into some woods and basically stayed there for the rest of the game, trying to call in Long Tom strikes. This is offboard artillery, which promises to be very devastating, but you need to get it on target first by rolling a hit on a single die. This I failed to do every turn (the law of averages deserted me). Had I landed a barrage on target, it could have been nasty, since I could hit two units with it if they were within 6″ of each other. Rob’s Grenadiers moved on and we got our intitial positions set.

Turn 2 – My Hammers jumped in. Wow, these dudes with the rocket packs are awesome! Soldier 3, so they’re tough. If you do a March Move (double move) you can go 24″ and clear terrain features up to 9″ high. And, enemy units can’t react to a jump move! Very handy for getting them in close, which is where they need to be, since they only have Rocket Punch attacks (6 of them in a full squad). My Gunners moved forward and we started exchanging fire between our point units. First use of the Reaction system, which I really liked.

Turn 3 – Support units arrived. Snipers took up position on my left and fired, but missed (as they would for all the following turns). Moved my Pounder into firing position. Rob’s Lothar came in. The Lothar is an awesome anti-infantry vehicle, and really laid the hurt down on some of my units. My Hammers assaulted Rob’s Laser Grenadiers. I did some damage but didn’t take them out. Return fire from his Heavy Laser guys wiped out my Hammers, but it was a cool exchange.

Turn 4 – My Pounder hit the Lothar and set it on fire, as well as adding DC to it. But the big walker continued blasting my troops to bits and thinned out my Weapons squad despite them being in a building in cover. My advance had stalled since my Hammers and Gunners were all gone.

Turn 5 – Took another shot at the Lothar but I either missed or Rob armor saved all the damage, can’t remember. Rob’s Kommandotruppe mechanic put the fire out on the Lothar and fixed 1 DC. Some more desultory fire but the game ended here.  Though I had damaged several of his units, I hadn’t actually wiped any out, whereas Rob had taken out three of mine, so the win went to Rob.

As I said I really like this game. The Reaction system is great. Seeing the actual performance and capabilities of the units and weapons in-game was good too.

Lessons Learned

1. Do not move into reaction range of an unsuppressed enemy unit (unless you can jump in)! You’ll get fired up before you can shoot back on your next action. Instead, shoot first, get a Supression marker on them so they can’t react, then move in.

2. Jump troops are awesome, but need supporting fire unless you can pick off isolated enemy units.

3. When being fired on from well beyond Reaction range, use the special “Hit the Dirt!” Reaction. You take a Suppression marker, but you can probably get rid of it at the end of the round, and it improves your cover by 1.

4. The “Improved Communications” upgrade is probably more useful with larger platoons.

5. Allied squads kick out lots of anti-infantry firepower with their UGLs.

6. The Lothar with its Nebelwerfers is really bad news for enemy infantry.

7. One Pounder is good against armor. Two would probably be great.

8. I really want to exploit the Jump capability of certain Allied walkers.

9. Command squads with radios are good for extending your command range. They keep your force up and moving.

10. Long Tom strikes promise lots of death and destruction on the enemy, but don’t rely on them too much.

So again, thanks to Rob for a fun game. It was a good one and I learned a lot about the game that makes me want to play it more!:)