Playing EPIC in 28mm.

Friday, 29 November 2013

The performance of various units of the Imperial Guard.

The Vostroyan Officer class is exemplified by the upper echelons of Vostroyan Society which has produced all of their world’s most celebrated General[1]s.   Born into privilege they are, by the acts of their inferiors, insulated from the worst that the attrition of war produces.  Promotion by purchase, widely practiced amongst firstborn regiments, ensures that the upper classes are swiftly elevated to higher command and further away from the front line.

Another one for Admiral Drax...

Junior officers in Vostroyan regiments come largely from the lower middle classes.  In military service, they achieve a status that would be simply unattainable for them in civilian life, especially for those not ‘firstborn’.    NCOs in Vostroyan regiments are not used as sub unit leaders, they are there to enforce discipline.   Beatings are common and expected, with longer serving soldiers are served by their juniors.  Fagging is also common amongst the officer classes in the comfort of barracks, but not on campaign due to their officers billeting closer to their commands whilst under field conditions.
The rank and file of Vostroyan regiments are characterised by an ability to put up with hardships, harsh discipline and fatalism that manifests itself in a form of collective melancholia expressed in folk music.  These men, even those in the firstborn regiments are not well educated; many are barely literate, being drawn from the workers of their homeworld’s manufactum. 
This manifests itself on the battlefield as an army that can seen to have a reluctance to act.  Without strong leadership, in defence or attack, the Vostroyan infantry are reluctant to move without their officers.  These officers must needs lead from the front, which leads to one of the highest junior officer mortality rates in the Guard.   In order to get their platoons to advance, Vostroyan Lieutenants have to lead their men from the front.  Without an officer, Vostroyan formations will halt where they are and dig in.  

A Valhallan Coy with attached Vostroyan Liaison Team
The Valhallan population is generally better educated, with close to universal literacy and their armies draw their enlisted men and commissioned officers from the same population.  In common with the Vostroyans, they are used to hardship, however unlike the Vostroyans, the similar levels of violence originate with the wide spread Commissariat and their field police detachments, rather than the officer corps. 
In the case of any perceived weakness or sedition in a Valhallan formation, there is likely to be a widespread pogrom of the officer class of a regiment or sub unit.  This leads to a fatalism across the entire Valhallan contribution to the Guard, “if the bugs/xenos/heretics don’t get us, the commissariat will” is a common theme. 

There are, however, good men who try hard throughout the Valhallan contribution to the war effort.  But efforts to streamline training mean that basic infantry tactics are not built upon; there are no colleges to better train their leaders; training which in many armies would be delivered by NCOs is delivered by officers in the Valhallan regiments. 
Even more than the Vostroyans, Valhallan formations will rely on weight of numbers to achieve what other units with more limited resources will achieve with more imaginative tactics or alternative weapon systems.
What both of these armies will do is use massed infantry wave attacks; the Valhallan field police will site heavy stubber teams at the rear of attacking units to dissuade men from faltering.  Both armies have knowingly driven attacks across uncleared minefields due not to time constraints affecting the whole campaign, but simply due to a lack of planning.   To the credit of the officers and men conducting these attacks, they are generally pressed on with determination and no small amount of grit.
There are exceptions, of course.  The professionalism of the Kado (Valhallan) 540th is on a par with Cadian levels of military professionalism.  They have been away from the Kado Hive for over a decade and have been restored to readiness on Agripinna in tandem with units from elsewhere, where professional military development and education are blended and the experiences of the regiments being rebuilt together are shared.
All Cadians are familiar with small arms and platoon tactics by the time they finish their secondary education.  They are familiar with company and battalion level tactics by the time they finish their schooling.   This militancy means that once a Cadian has joined the Guard, their training focuses on all arms actions and fine tuning their performance under a variety of conditions.
Where the Cadians excel is in keeping going where others would be rendered ineffective; being drilled since childhood, the Cadian soldier will be able to give a flexible and imaginative response to whatever is thrown at him.  Where another formation might be broken up into many ineffective shattered units, the Cadians will readily re-brigade into ad hoc formations and remain combat effective for much longer.   Cadians will re-brigade in this manner without any impetus from outside, it is an organic response which they undertake without needing command from higher formation.
In the attack, the Cadians will always be ready to exploit an opportunity, their junior officers will keep an eye out to enable them to capitalise on opportunities or take prompt actions to counter emerging threats as they become apparent, without having to wait for approval from higher formation.   Cadian formation commanders will be not be surprised to hear that a subordinate has achieved their objective (or not) and found an opportunity to exploit which requires them to then alter their whole ‘bigger picture’ plan.  It is this institutional flexibility that makes Cadian Shock Troop regiments amongst the best the Empire of Man has to offer.
Cadians are well used to command devolving to the highest available rank present; on campaign it would not be unusual to find sergeants commanding platoons and Lieutenants or Warrant Officers commanding Companies or even Battalions.     The net effect of this flexibility is that Cadian units remain combat effective almost regardless of losses and that a Cadian ad hoc formation can be relied on to not only hold a position, but launch successful counter attacks.
It is for this reason that the Cadian war machine is exported widely throughout the Segmentum Ocularis and beyond; despite the prevalent (cheap in time and resources) modus operandi of half of 72AG’s  units (the Vostryan/Valhallan ‘men led by Grox’s’ model), the other half are schooled in the Cadian way of war.

[1] There are no recorded instances of Vostroyan Army Commanders coming through the ranks or from anywhere other than the Vostroyan nobility.  In rare cases, individuals have risen to become to Regimental Commanders, but have not progressed any higher up the Imperial Guard chain of command.

Friday, 22 November 2013

The Ibirnan Incident

The Fight-back against Operation Ewbehin

General Horpan ("Danny Bloodcoat") is no fool.  As he sees 72 Army Group's assets accumulate, he knows he must act before the imperium simply swamps his PDF.  His political leadership has promised direct military aid, which he is content to assume for the time being will be from other worlds with a similar separatist outlook.  But he doesn't want a stand up fight just yet.

He knows that 17 Korps is gearing up for an offensive and break-out of the Randstat area.  Operation Ewbehin is designed to prevent 17 Korps from focussing its fighting strength in one place.  He has hived off a (not insignificant) part of his own fighting strength, based around 2nd "Hunter" Div of the PDF; one division of four brigade combat teams (one of which includes 2 Battalions of 99th 'Bloodcoat' Regiment), a battalion aviation wing and full support service battalion.

Bloodcoat squads occupying Ibirnan
As 18 and 32 Korps are shipped from Acer to Benq behind 17 Korps' bridgehead, the PLA's 2 Div is not enough to face 17 Korps in a meeting engagement.  However, 17 Korps is not in the most wonderful of positions and it will take a number of months to get 18 and 32 Korps into good order and commence operations.  So one of Danny Blood coats four formed Divisions is more than enough to pose a serious threat to the Imperial forces; one that they cannot ignore. 

Operation Ewbehin is potentially a masterstroke.  He has positioned the PLA's "Hunter" Div to the SSE of the Randstat area, the imperial forces must move to counter the Division or leave their soft underbelly exposed.  Furthermore, to prevent the Division being a permanent thorn in said underbelly, they must commit significant forces to neutralising the threat.  Hunter Division is under orders to continue to fall back in face of the enemy, drawing them South and away from the expected main thrust of their campaign, towards Xyphonica in Central Benq.  If at any point the enemy appears to be losing interest then the Division is to turn and bite.

4* General Tolstoy knows he cannot afford to leave Hunter Div threatening his southern flank.  Keeping 901 (Cadian) and 902 (Kreig) Div to secure his position he sends 903 Inf (Valhallan) Div directly against the Op Ewbehin forces.  904 (Corbanian) Inf Div and 905 (Palladian) Inf Div to pincer the rebels and bring them to battle.  Even if the result is only that they are scattered, then the threat posed by the remains of Hunter Div is much reduced and would no longer preclude 17 Korps from concentrating on its main objectives.

903 Inf Div contains several units in administrative terms only.  Some are combat ineffective, one is actually on the other side, others are reduced strength.  The Valhallans look like easy pickings.  Hunter Div's sub units get carried away with local successes and over extend themselves, allowing the Cobanians to dig in and the Palladians to hammer them from the west against the Corbanian's prepared defences.  Chronologically, his happens two months before the Apoc game with Admiral Drax and Col Corbane in the summer. 
This game is the highpoint of Operation Ewbhlien;   The small trading town of Ebirnan, still some 400kloms south east of Randstadt.  Essentially, the tip of the Bloodcoat spear at the furthest extent of its thrust meeting the crumbling edge of 903 Div's anvil and the smart, shiney, Palladian hammer.  The Corbanians are digging in to the northwest to be the anvil; what we have here is the very first encounter of  17Korps fightback.

The defenders of Ibirnan

The Valhallans holding the town are a reserve company for 6th Bn of the Kado 540th Regt, which is deployed with all its support assets a few kloms to the east.  There is no expectation that the PLA would make it this far west.  The Valhallans are essentially waiting to be relieved by the incoming Palladians in order to move up and support the rest of their battalion.  Expecting the town to be secure, the Palladians bringing a troop of Basilisks into the town.

Why bring an earthshaker to a bayonet fight ?  Because Palladian SOPs say so.
The lead elements of 4EL are being supported by 836th (Armageddon) Arty Bty, with Kaptain Schwartzkopf pulling the short straw today, as spearhead FOO.  905 Divisional recce, manned by a motorcycle battalion of the Mordian Iron Guard, have screens of motorcycle outriders ranging beyond the main thrust.  Other Korps assets (aside from the ASL Arty) include Korps Liaison Teams from 11/157th Vostroyan Support Regt.    Additionally, 4* Gen Tolstoy has directed his firemen, the Arcomet 887th, to support the Imperial Guard response to Operation Ewbehin.

Palladian and Arcomet forces advance to contact on the southern edge of the village
So with Karitas' Arcoment 887th spearheading Col Scipio's Palladians (in this instance, 4th Expeditionary Legion - part of 905 Div), the lead elements of the PLA's Hunter Division found themselves trapped in the thobbing metropolis that is Ibirnan.  
With me playing the Devos IV 2nd Regt and Headologist taking charge of the 3/99 Bloodcoats, the game began well enough for the rebels.  Plunging fire from Hvy Stubber and Las Cannon teams thinned out the Valhallans to the North and Palladians to the South.  Three or four Arcomet and Palladian tanks were toasted.  The unsanctioned psykers of the PLA network support battalions frazzled more Palladians than the mortars did the first turn.  Maj Drule, on horseback, was shot by snipers. 
Through devastating bombardments by rebel quad guns and mortars and 17 Korps artillery and heavy mortars, the infantry slugged it out with the Valhallans taking an awful licking from various Bloodcoat elements including massed autocannons.  By the end of the game the Bloodcoat infantry were poised to overrun the Valhallans and escape the Kessel; however the airmobile elements of the Arcomet force were dropped in to help contain the Bloodcoats, their Vendettas straffing the remaining rebel tanks.    

The DPF's 2nd Regt company was almost entirely wiped out.  The Coy Cdr "challenged" the Coy Cdr of the Palladians (already wounded by 2nd Regt snipers) and tipped him off his horse and aftger batting his sword aside, ran him through twice.  He was then bundled to the ground by the rest of the command squad.  Another one to be handed over to the OH and their Necroduman enforcers. 

Two Company Commanders face off.  Maj Drule of the Palladian Guard would spend the next two years in a military hospital in Acre.

The hammer blow was driven home by the Arcomet stormsword and hellhound.  The Hellhound accounted for the unsanctioned psyker chior, the snipers who shot Maj Drule, Bloodcoat autocannon positions and squads of 2nd Regt, Armchair generals for years to come will note that the Bloodcoats lack anything by way of AT and that the Palladians would have had much harder time pushing the rebels out of Ibirnan, without the assistance of the Arcomet heavy assets. 

In the end, less than a quarter of the Bloodcoat manpower escaped the Kessel, taking with them none of their heavy or support weapons.  As a fighting force, this company, were finished, their supporting tank troop and AT and fire support providing attachment from 2nd Regt were all consumed in the fight in the village.  

Chimeltavets from 1/1 SF Bn.  Their brothers in arms would excel against the Corbanians, but these guys were toasted by the time they were facing the right way.

What did happen was that the scattered survivors, possibly with help from sympathisers amongst the civilian popultion, managed to warn the main body of Hunter Div; they would go on to lead Palladians a merry dance for the next two months, until 72AG was ready to force the initiative. 

Friday, 15 November 2013

1st Kronus Regiment "The Liberators" vs Starship Troopers

I don't know if you've ever played THQ's Dawn of War or not, but the Imperial Guard, for reasons of play-ability, are not organised into platoons, they're just one huge mass with a HSO to lead them.

So, then, how would I put 1KR into 6ed ?

Use the Coy Cdr profile for the HSO, naturally.  He gets to plunder the wargear chest for as much bling as he can stand up in.

  • His command squad can be 0-2 of:
  • Commissar (one could be the Lord Commmissar, but you can only have one in the army)
  • Sanctioned Psyker (one could be the Primus Stove Pskyer, but you can only have one in the army)
  • Kasarkin (Hellgun or plasma or GL only for the normal points cost)
  • Ministorium Preists
  • Wargear for all at the normal points cost

Only one HQ choice, unfortunately.  This little lot is quite likely to tool up and be its own little ball of hurt (like a 'death star' but without the advantageous saving throw)


0-3 Enginseer
01 Vindicare Operative with various personal problems he doesn't want to discuss.  "You didn't see me, right ?" a rhetorical question.
0-1 Ogryn Squad (of up to eight, one of whom may be upgraded to minister for education)

  • The Ogryn squads can be joined by:
  • 0-1 Commissar
  • 0-1 Sanctioned Psyker
  • 0-1 Ministorium Preist
  • for the usual points cost, wargear for the usual cost, don't forget the limit of 0-1 Lord Commissar or Primus Stove per army.

0-1 Kasarkin (of up to twelve) one whom may be upgraded to sergeant.

  • The Kasarkin squad can be joined by:
  • 0-1 Commissar
  • 0-1 Sanctioned Psyker
  • 0-1 Ministorium Preist
  • for the usual points cost, wargear for the usual cost, don't forget the limit of 0-1 Lord Commissar or Primus Stove per army.

Infantry Squad Sgt + 9.  Extra bodies can be added to the squad up to the limit of fourteen at eight points per ablative wound.  0-3 of these can have a special weapon.
  • Squads can be joined by:
  • 0-1 Commissar
  • 0-1 Sanctioned Psyker
  • 0-1 Ministorium Preist
  • for the usual points cost, wargear for the usual cost, don't forget the limit of 0-1 Lord Commissar or Primus Stove per army.

Heavy Weapons Team:
Single teams only, no squads.

No limit on the number of troops choices, No option for rough riders.

Vehicles as per the codex (for simplicity).

I think that this would play quite well.  There are not many options for building this; using this template, unless you put three special weapons and an 'advisor' in each squad, even if your squads are not fourteen strong, then your troops are just gonna be kill points for the baddies.

I think the buffs here render this playable.  And the HSO, with a full scale tooled up posse, is no way weak.

Going the other way, there's the MI from Robert Heinlen's Starship Troopers:

These guys are not genetically modified U-Sol types, so they don't get a MEQ statline, but they are highly trained so their base statline should be Storm Trooper/Kasarkin.

And they are powered armour wearing jump troops.

So each has an auto GL mounted on his back/shoulder which fires every turn.  He has a either a plasma gun, melta gun, heavy stubber or (lets call it) storm bolter to fire every turn.  And a flamer (normal template) which only goes off once per turn if anyone is in range. So that's three shooting attacks every man, every go.

Dropped (deep strike only, they have no other deployment method) as a platoon of two squads of nine plus a sergeant and a HQ of a Lieutenant plus a guy with an assault cannon or laser cannon instead his normal gun.

And to adequately reflect the fluff: they are properly networked by a competent engineer so they all use their officer's leadership. They are not subject to normal unit coherency rules, effectively being an army of ICs.  Who are never going to respond to a challenge. They should probably have hit and run as well.

Easily modelled using the puppetswar dudes and weapons from your bitz box.

Obviously the idea here is that they drop in and shoot'n'scoot at others, picking off a couple of foes at a time and (hopefully) staying out of range of the rest.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Pirate Viking Painting: For Sale - Painted Cygnar army

Pirate Viking Painting: For Sale - Painted Cygnar army: Hi folks, it's been a bit quiet on the blog front of late, I know. This is all to do with that pesky RealLife getting all over my bus...

Friday, 8 November 2013

Commerical Painting Services

Like buying anything, outsourcing the construction and/or painting of your precious little men is down to you: how much you willing to pay ? how long are you willing to wait ?  There will be a going rate, but this could open to negotiation.

Using any commercial painting service is a relationship; you will only get out of it what you put into it. (yawn inducing but true)

Basically, there are two ways to go:  a full on commercial painting service operating as a company or co-operative.  Or a single artist.  What you get with the commercial painting service depends on your communication with them;  I think that there are a few things you as a client need to give a little thought to:

The level of communication you want;  Do you want WIP photos every week ?  Are you happy with a 'this is what it is.' photo before you pay and they post ?

The tighter the brief you give, the more likely it is that you will get what you want.  Don't shy away from what may seem to be an absurdly panikity level of detail; the painter(s) are not inside your head and don't know what you want, so the more information you can give, the more likely you will get what you want.

The last thing is that you have a slightly enhanced probability of getting something done to a deadline - if you need the army done before blogwars, then the company or co-operative, having multiple painters, is going to be more likely to meet your deadline.

If you manage to find a single painter, an artist with whom you can establish a rapport, then you may get to the point where they 'tune in' to your style and peccadilloes and/or you trust their creativity and ability to produce something that just looks great and that you will be happy with and didn't know you wanted before it turned up.

But this takes time.  And means that you will have put a few commissions their way in order to get to that point.

Another thing which is obvious but took me a little time to learn is that every person who does this does it because a) a lot of other people have told them that they are good enough. b) they love painting figures, even getting a kick out of presenting you with 140 iggies. That you have made them paint all the same.  And c) if they muck it up they will struggle and persevere with your commission because their own pride/stubbornness will make them.  All of which are a win for you as client.

So, to get personal; Why do I use these services ?  Time is one thing.  I can paint iggies.  But I cannot find the time.  And if I'm paying someone quicker (or who has the time) and better (let's face it), the scheme can be a bit more exotic.  So time, yeah, a pro painter can do in a weekend what takes me a year.

Skill level is another; my best effort will produce what I sometimes get back as "table top quality".  Now, I realise that I could take steps to improve my painting (like doing some, for a start).  However for reasons I outlined some time ago, I don't want to, because I have other things to do with my time.

But to sum up being a paying client:

If you have a deadline, colourscheme, notion, design, preference, cost limit, expectation, desire, requirement or fetish that needs fulfilling, then it is down to you as client to let the painter know.

So, there you have it.  My take on getting someone else to paint your little men.

Friday, 1 November 2013

More DKK ?

So, doubtless by now you've seen the FW bundles.

I quite like this:

Which is offered at £264ish.  All the bits added up separately come to £301ish.  So that's £35 saved to spend on more FW goodies....  Or not.

And I've got a 'squad advancing' in the garage somewhere.  So I can put another five squad platoon together.  Another five autocannon mid turret Chimera would be easy enough after the first eighteen.


I could paint the whole lot up as one of the Line Regiments and add another DKK Regiment to the Devos IV fluff.

The twin evils of wanting to expand 19 Regt and wanting to develop the Devos IV fluff are tearing at my sensibilities.  What to do, what to do....