Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review of New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah

Title:  New Dawn - The Battles for Fallujah
Author:  Richard S. Lowry
Publisher:  Savas Beatie
Date Published:  2010
Price:  $29.95

New Dawn was one of those impulse purchases I made when Borders, Inc. went through its bankruptcy liquidation in 2011.  I bought this book at 80% off retail.  I didn't get around reading it until this year.  I hadn't read any operational accounts of the war in Iraq.  It's probably too fresh for an objective appraisal.  I wasn't impressed with some of the tag lines people were using to sell it.  I don't think the US won the Iraq campaign.  And I was never a supporter of the military campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein.  I could go on with why I think the whole theater was botched from the onset.

But those are my views.  I wanted to read something about the actual fighting that happened in Iraq.  New Dawn covers two months of fighting in Fallujah from November to December 2004.  It was a combined operation of US Marines, Army, and Air Force personal.  The fighting was up close and personal.  Lots of house to close and clearing actions.  It was hard to read because the numerous casualties the Marines took clearing out the insurgents.  The whole operation to bypass insurgent strongholds and then go back and clear out each building block by block was gruelling.  It reminded of the house-to-house fighting that happened at the end of WWII on the Eastern Front. 

The soldiers involved knew what they were doing and carried themselves in a professional manner.  The author made sure the reader also knew the insurgents wanted to kill as many Americans as possible.  The jihadist ideal seemed to only surfaces when Al Queda in Iraq were winning their firefights against the the hated infidels.  The insurgents also fought with a fatalism they were going to die no matter what the outcome of the campaign.

The list of casualties the Marines took clearing out Fallujah is horrendous.  But that is the price of urban warfare.  It's never neat and tidy.  Urban combat is one of the worst operational theaters to be in.  You need heavy infantry to do the job of clearing city blocks.  Urban combat is also where an attacking force will take heavy losses despite whatever technological advantage they might have. 

If you want a detailed account of the campaign for Fallujah, New Dawn is good for that.  But I'm not jumping on the apologist bandwagon for the Iraq War.  I don't see the point of sending in young people into a dubious conflict with no exit strategy once we're involved.  That is folly bordering on criminal.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Review of Blood Angels Omnibus by James Swallow

Title:  Blood Angels Omnibus
Author:  James Swallow
Publisher:  The Black Library
Published:  2008
Price:  $15.00 US

I read the Blood Angels Omnibus by James Swallow over the past several months.  The is a WH40K Battle Book that focuses on Rafen, the main protagonist of the story.  Without giving too much away, the story involves a corrupt Inquisitor, a powerful chaos demon, and the World Bearers Chaos Marines who fight the Blood Angels. 

I didn't know the Blood Angels' archenemies were the World Bearers.  I haven't read too many of the WH40K novels.  This one was well written.  I enjoy the descriptions of the battles and fight scenes.  There was lots of action through out the novel along with the back story.  Overall, Blood Angels Omnibus was a much better read than Legion of the Damned.  Once I got into the book, I cheated by reading the end and then going back and finishing the novel.  I do that with some of the stories I read to see if its worth finishing when I'm pressed for time. 

I've never been one for the WH40K fluff.  I played the game for nearly 20 years because I liked the models and fan of Space Marines.  One of the armies I collected were Blood Angels.  Afterward, I picked up some WH40K novels to see if they were worth reading.  The first one I had, Legion of the Damned, was awful.  I didn't finish it. 

I've been told the Black Library novels are hit or miss.  A friend of mine who has read most of the WH40K novels recommended James Swallow.  I started out with Fear to Tread.  The next book I moved onto was the Blood Angels Omnibus.  The novel is about 600 pages.  I didn't read it in one setting.  Instead, I worked at it over several months.  I finally got done with it last week.  I have a fourth book called Ravenwing by Gav Thorpe to start sometime later this year.  I don't know how that will flow. 

Anyone who reads these novels should be forewarned.  They are designed for fans of the WH40K universe.  They aren't serious reading.  If you're looking for hard sci-fi, you'd better be off with Orson Scott Card or Arthur C. Clarke.  However, I was entertained enough to read and eventually finish the novel.  But I'm still not sold on the whole GW fluff...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Die Con 13 AAR, 22JUN13

Die Con is a local gaming convention held in Collinsville, IL near the end of June.  I ran three games for Big Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance (a local gaming club here in St. Louis, MO) at the con.

The first game was a 28mm Modern Afghanistan scenario using Ambush Alley.  A group of US Marines had to locate and call in air assets to neutralize a Taliban insurgent rocket position.  In the first game, the Marines ran into trouble and their Humvee and one fire team was either KIA or WIA.  The Marines were also unable to get air support to neutralize the Afghan rocket launcher.  The Taliban players finished shelling an off-board position and then claimed a morale "victory" against the Americas.  The second game, the American players were able to call in a predator drone strike with Hellfire missiles and wipe out the Afghan compound on the second turn...

The second game was a 28mm Warlord game using Max Carr's old rules between two GW fantasy armies I own.  The game got done in 2 hours with my friend Don Cox winning.  His Warriors of Chaos ground my High Elves into the ground by the end of the game.  I couldn't roll to save my life.  That contributed to my downfall.

The third game was a 28mm FPW - Battle of Woerth:  August 6, 1870.  It had a brigade of infantry with a cavalry regiment and a battery aside.  It filled most of my 5' x 8' table.  I only put out half the figures I own.  The rest need painting.  I could have had a heart attack moving 70-80 pounds of lead.  Unfortunately, all my 28mm FPW figures are lead.  They don't make any plastic figures for this time period...

Getting back to the game.  The French were defending a town and the Prussian attacked.  The Prussian had horrible movement and command activation rolls.  In hindsight, the Prussian needed another battery of artillery to even things out.  I just got a heavy Krupp gun mortar in the mail from Foundry this past week.  I didn't have a chance to assemble or paint it, yet.  Though the Prussian players took a pounding, the French weren't much better near the end of the game.  Both sides had heavy losses, the Prussians just got to 60% losses faster than the French.  So the Germans lost due to army morale, giving the French a marginal victory.

Getting back to the 28mm FPW figures, I swear I'm not going to take them to another convention or game with them at a store because of the weight of the figures.  It's just too heavy for me to move everything.  I think they'll be reserved for gaming at my house when I finally get a gaming table situated in the basement.

However, here are some photos:

                                          US Marines and a Humvee with a 50 cal MG.

                                          Glenn Wilson pondering what to do.

                                          Initial deployment for my 28mm Warlord Game.

                                          Chaos Warriors on the other side of the table.

                                         Initial deployment for the 28mm FPW game.

                                          An entire 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry brigade.

                                          28mm 1870 French infantry brigade deployed in line.

                                          Second turn of the 28mm FPW game.
                                          15mm Bugs.

                                          15mm Bugs attacking Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

Combat Colour's 15mm FOW Russian Front Game.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

WIP, 25mm European Buildings, 15JUN13

Here are some 25mm European buildings I hope to be able to use for an upcoming con next week in Collinsville, IL June 21-23, 2013 at the Gateway Convention Center:

                                          WIP, 25mm Euopean Stone Church.

                                         WIP, 25mm European Stone Church, side view

                                         WIP, 25mm European Stone bridge.

                                         WIP, 25mm European Town Houses.

WH40K Game, 07JUN13

I played my friend, Brian Bigford, a couple games of WH40K this month.  Each time it's been my Dark Angels vs. his Space Wolves.  And I've lost both games.  Here are some photos from last week's game:

                                          Imperial Guard allies finishing off my land raiders.

                         Infamous melta-gun Rhino drive by against the remains of my Terminator HQ squad.

                       Brian wondering what God I insulted to have my luck when it comes to dice rolling.

Brian brought Space Wolves and Imperial Guard allies in both games.  Yesterday's game had Space Wolf Terminators.  It was a poor man's version of the crips and the bloods as my terminators slammed into his "Wolf Wing" squads.  To show you how bad my dice roll is, I told Brian I'd roll five "1's".  Afterward, I had five successive dice all with "1's".  That was for my close combat and to wound rolls. At least it wasn't my armor saves.  But I still failed all my invulnerable saves afterward.  I had one figure left at the end of the game.  It was a total Space Wolf victory.

As an aside, I do miserably with whatever dice I own/use.  So at least my luck is consistent.  But I've skewered probability into a black hole with my dice rolling...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summertime painting projects

I finished half of my 28mm Franco-Prussian War armies this year.  I'm tired of working on the same stuff.  There are other things I'd like to paint.  One of them is my WH40K figures.  I haven't bought any new WH40K figures this year.  I just want to paint what I have and get Battlefoam for the models that need it. 

I'll eventually have Battlefoam for all four of my WH40K armies.  It seems I own too much.  I have Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Traitor Guard, Khorne World Eaters, and a small Nurgle led force.  Here is what I have on my painting table for this summer:

1 Dark Angel Commander
1 Dark Angel Librarian
5 Deathwing Terminators
3 Ravenwing bikers

An additional 18 Ravenwing bikers
3 Ravenwing attack bikes
3 Ravenwing Landspeeders
1 Sammuel, Master of the Ravenwing, on jetbike
1 Dark Angels chaplain on bike
20 Chaos Cultists
1 Chaos Hellbrute
6 Chosen Chaos Space Marines
1 Chaos Space Marine Lord
1 Typhus, Lord of Nurgle

I also have the following vehicles to assemble and paint:

2 Chaos Space Marine Land Raiders
3 Chaos Space Marine Rhinos

That's it for my WH40K stuff.  I'd also like to get some fliers and an additional Chaos Space Marine Land Raider.  I'm holding off on additional WH40K purchases until next year.  The goal now is to get my current GW models assembled, painted, and put into gaming bags.  This is what I get for being a slave to the fickle GW gods...

I do have my FOW British Paras to assemble and paint at some point, too.  This is the problem when you have too many miniature armies!