Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Recent activity

I ran my 'Operation Thruster' Megablitz scenario at the club a couple of weeks ago. I thought it went OK and tripling the size of the original battlefield gave some scope for manouvre. Both sides had considerable challenges, the Germans in particular were heavily outnumbered, but in the event conducted a masterful mobile defence and managed to burn the British out while only committing half their infantry forces. The British penchant for unsupported frontal attacks didn't help. I was sorely disapointed that the division I'd painted specially for the game never came out of its box, but at least the Elephant did.

At some point I'll upload the scenario to the Megablitz group, but here are a couple of photos.

Monday, 11 May 2009

A trip to Normandy

I ran my Rauray scenario at the club last week. We had a bit of a thin turnout but Jerry Ellsmore and John Armatys turned up, and we managed to play the game. I'd hastily revised RKKA Brigade Commander for the western front, so this was a bit of a tryout to see how it went. In the end it was fairly historical as IInd SS Panzer Corps beat itself to pieces against 70th Brigade (supported by the entire divisional artillery).
The battlefield from the southwest, Rauray is in the centre. KG Weidinger is the foreground, largely pinned down while the 9th SS Armoured KG is in the distance.

9th SS. One battalion has already taken heavy losses driving the British back and this one has fallen into confusion in front of the enemy, despite the Nebelwerfer fire providing support.
KG Weidinger largely stalled having been pinned down by artillery fire for most of the game (barrage markers can still be seen). The attached panzer IVs from 9th SS can be seen in the distance duelling with British shermans.

70th Brigade remains deployed around Rauray, the reserve battalion is completely intact, although one of the frontline battalions has taken heavy losses.



The game went OK, but I was left feeling dissatisfied with some of the mechanisms and dug out some of my other efforts to cover this theatre. I'll probably keep the card activation and hexes, but I need to redo the combat system so it is less attritional and more about fire and movement.






Sunday, 3 May 2009

A Walk in the Sun

I ran my Aden counter-insurgency game last week (RM Commandos on a search & destroy mission), this was essentially a tryout for a session at COW this summer. The rules are essentially a reworked version of 'A Platoon Commanders War' by John Armatys and I structured the game like an RPG with all the players on one side and the communists managed by an umpire and mechanisms which bore a distinct resemblance to those used in my WW1 East African game.

As is often the case with this sort of thing, the rules mattered less than the scenario, and although the game went OK, there were a few rough bits to iron out when things flagged a bit and bits where I had to make stuff up as I wasn't sure how to resolve things. Having run it through once, I've got more idea how to make it flow more smoothly (adopting a variable length bound approach from the outset will help a great deal).

I wouldn't describe it as earth-shatteringly innovative, but hopefully it will provide a reasonable simulation of small-unit operations in that most difficult of environments, counter insurgency. In the event the players attained their objective, and the enemy compound vanished in a most satisfying pillar of smoke as Hunter GA9s pounded it into rubble. British casualties were minimal, but necessitated bringing in the Corgi Wessex helicopter for casualty evacuation, its first outing on the tabletop. Tim Gow took a few photos, so if I can prise them off him, I'll put some in here.

Apart from that I've been working on a Megablitz scenario for the 49th Infantry Div attack on Wouw/Roosendaal in October 1944 and I've knocked up a quick game for this week, the 9th SS Panzer Division attack on 70th Inf Bde in Rauray during Operation Epsom (based on the excellent Rapid Fire scenario covering the same battle). I've hastily reworked 'Red Army Brigade Commander' for NWE, so we'll see how that goes.

I've pretty much finished phase 1 of painting my new 20mm stuff, and my shiny new German Infantry Division went into its boxfile yesterday. I've undercoated the next wave now (exclusively vehicles), but I'll focus on painting the odd bits of British stuff I need for the 49th Div game plus a couple of fun things (like an ex-Chris Willey Sturmtiger converted from the Aifix model). The extra German corps assets will take a bit of work as I'll need to do some model conversions and build a Flak Vierling virtually from scatch, so that can wait a bit.

Monday, 27 April 2009

A trip to the killing fields.

Last week Tim Gow brought a WW1 variant of 'Hordes of the Things' down to the club. Well, not exactly a variant, just HoTT played with WW1 stuff, so infantry were 'hordes', cavalry were 'riders' etc. It was an entertaining diversion, although unfortunately both HoTT and DBA tend to bring out my wargamery competitive side, and I ended up crushing Tims general in the infamous 'buttocks of doom' as I managed to park my 'flyer' right behind his HQ before attacking it.

Otherwise I've been busy painting phase I of my 20mm WW2 stuff. I've done all the infantry and had good fun refurbishing some of the old vehicles and guns I've got lying around. The vehicles are mainly done now, and I spent particular care on my old Jagdpanzer IV (converted from an Airfix Pz IV) and did it in a rather spiffing ambush scheme. Had some trouble getting a decent shade of Field Grey as a lot of my old Humbrol paint has run out now, but in the end I heavily drybrushed light grey over a black base and then washed it with the horrible thin Tamiya Field Grey and the uniforms came out OK. Just a few details to finish off now (I can't find the divisional insignia for 85th ID, so they might have to be 89th ID instead), then it is on to varnishing and basing.

Hope to be having a trip to Aden this week, and I've been sorting out the toys for that. Got a scenario done and we'll see how the rules go. I've been a bit distracted by researching the Canadian 1st Corps attack towards Bergen-op-Zoom, and I'm torn between doing that as my next Megablitz game or the IInd SS Panzer Corps counter attack in Operation Epsom. As I've not painted my new Panthers yet, I guess we'll be off to Holland first.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Lets go shopping

Not done much wargaming recently, but I did help run the WD Display Team (North) participation game at Triples on 4th/5th April. This was Tim Gows 'Sturmstaffel, covering Luftwaffe heavy fighters taking on hordes of B17s in 1944. The game went down well and we had a steady stream of players, at least ninety over the weekend. I also had the opportunity to do some shopping, mainly picking up some extra 20mm WW2 stuff to flesh out my Megablitz forces, but I also got some Old Glory ultra-modern British troops including a pack of WMIK Landrovers.

I found that I had enough unpainted 20mm Germans to put together another infantry division, plus the bulk of the kit required to turn them into a panzer grenadier division if required, so I mainly needed a few extra vehicles and some Corps assets. There were zillions of cheap plastic tanks on the bring and buy so I ended up getting enough Panzer IVs and Panthers to make up two extra late war panzer regiments for my existing panzer divisions, and also got some extra British kit to fill in some gaps, including a rather nice Churchill AVRE. Pride of place was a plastic kit of a 100mm K-18 gun, manufactured by some obscure east european company.

This week has been spent assembling the old junk I've been accumulating for a few years and rummaging through bags of old figures. I converted an ACW artillery limber into a limber for the divisional artillery, assembled some old Frontline trucks, found an FAA bicycle for the Fusilier bicycle recce company and dug out an old Russian 76.2mm gun for the divisional artillery regiment. At Triples I'd picked up an Airfix Pak 40 kit, so I built the gun, along with a Chinese copy of a Hasegawa 8ton halftrack (with no instructions!) to tow it. In the end I decided it was too big and relegated it to Corps artillery duties and found an old Matchbox Sdkfz 11 instead. The Opel truck I plan on converting into a radio truck for Corps HQ, but I haven't done that yet. I also came across an old Jagdpanzer IV in my bits box, a conversion from an Airfix Pz IV I'd done back in the 1970s and decided to refurbish it, as I can use it with 29th Panzergrenadier Div to replace their Nashorn. So after a week of sticking things together, I've got a fair old amount of kit to undercoat and paint.

Phase II will be to do the Corps assets and extra panzer units, but I'll have to assemble the K-18 and do the Opel Radio truck conversion so that can wait a bit. I've also got to build an AA gun to go on the back of a Frontline Flak lorry. Phase III will be the extra British stuff, as along with the tanks and vehicles, I just 'happened' to pick up some more infantry so I'll do another nine infantry battalions to convert 1st Armoured Div into an infantry division, should I require another infantry division.

So, plenty to be getting on with then, and I haven't even started on the modern Brits yet.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Off to Aden

I did a bit more work on the modern counter insurgency rules. I finally found out the minimum safe distance for a 40mm UGL and had a go at incorporating some the the revisions I discussed with John last week. I'm not tremendously happy with using proper morale rules, I'll have to have a think about it. It makes it a bit too easy for pinned units to disengage by 'magic' if they run away. Anyway, I've got a while to think about that.

I did some research for a scenario and found out some very interesting stuff about Aden, I never dreamed we were still using Vickers guns and 3" mortars in the mid-1960s, but newer kit was coming in towards the end of the campaign. I found a very useful tactical map on the Britains Small Wars site (http://www.britains-smallwars.com/) as well as lists of the units which served there, equipment and even some digitised 8mm film. Very handy, as Aden looks just like Afghanistan.... My dreams of using Buccaneers for air support were dashed, I'll have to use Hunters instead.

I hade enough info to come up with a reasonably sensible scenario, I just need to finish the rules now! At least I've got another week to work on it, we'll be testing our next participation game at the club this week.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

A chat in the bar

Didn't play any games at the club this week, but had a very useful discussion with John Armatys about my revisions to his 'Platoon Commanders War' to turn it into 'Platoon Commanders Counter Insurgency'. Key considerations being the very different approach to casualties in modern armies, modelling the extreme differences in tactical skill and some consideration of technical improvements in weaponry and communications technology.

Came up with some interesting ideas, John is particularly keen on modelling the morale effects of loud bangs. I need to do some more research, but we are probably in a position to try it out in a 1960s era counter insurgency fairly soon (maybe Aden as I've got SLR toting RM commandos), but obviously those QRF and Olg Glory modern Brits are crying out for a mission.

Maybe this will be my session for this years Conference of Wargamers.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

D-Day Dodgers

I ran my Italian scenario using Combat 300 last night. I couldn't recall exactly when or where the original action took place, so it was down to the redoubtable troops of the South Essex Regiment to save the day once more. I did at least recall the original terrain layout and orbat well enough to recreate the battle. I was surprised the assembled multitudes didn't recognise it as it has been published in The Nugget not once but twice (it was one of the US Army 'Combat Lessons' series). In the original battle it was a reinforced US infantry battalion taking on the dug-in Germans, but for this game they became British.

The Germans had a fairly simple setup, two rifle companies each reinforced with a machinegun platoon dug in in front of the village, a battery of 88s plus battalion HQ dug in to the village itself, 81mm mortar platoon plus the 88s prime movers in the woods behind the town. The British had nice covered approaches down each flank (on the right a wooded ridgeline, on the left ribbons of open woodland) plus a convenient hill with reverse slopes as an asembly area some 1.5km from the village. The Germans were all hidden, so I let the Allies have one pre-game recce flight as per the original rules. I'd been mulling over spotting and target location (something not included in the rules, just hidden/on table) so I transposed the target location distances from John Armatys' 'Blitzspiel' rules coupled with the concept of target detection vs actual location from TAC:WW2. This produced a simple fixed distance spotting table for different types of targets, but meant that it wasn't possible to see infantry 5km away as in the original rules.

In the original battle, the US commander opted for a double envelopment and used his platoon of Shermans for indirect fire support from the reverse slope. The double envelopment was roundly criticised by the staff compiling the report (although it worked as it forced the Germans from their position without a series fight). In the refight, the British went left flanking with the tanks in close support. One lucky infantry company was tasked with marching straight up the road as a demonstration. The British task was made easier as they had an incredibly lucky recce flight which spotted both the German infantry companies, but not the guns and mortars lurking in the woods and buildings. This made it fairly easy to task their mortars, attached Vickers guns and supporting 25 pdrs to thoroughly brass up the German positions while the infantry closed under the cover of their fire.

As is common in wargames, the players got a bit bored with trying to pull off a broad oputflanking manouvre, and ended up pushing all their infantry companies and tanks out into the open after a few turns in a broad arc, which was still essentially a frontal attack, albeit angled to the left. The Germans were inconvenienced by the allied support fire, but being dug in they could still fire back at reduced effect, their MGs and mortars in particular had some success laying down barrage fire which pinned at least one company. The Allied infantry pressed forward, and as the barrage lifted attempted to assault one of the German infantry companies while the Shermans nosed into the open. A nice feature of the rules is that artillery fire is resolved when the barrage lifts, not as it is fired, and it turned out that even 25pdrs weren't terribly effective against dug in troops, so the Germans were in reasonably good order and managed to throw the assaulting troops back. The 88s meanwhile unmasked and loosed off a volley at the Shermans, and managed to miss every single shot.

These developments caused a degree of consternation in the Allied camp, and they redoubled their efforts. Artillery fire shifted onto the 88s, the infantry determined to beat down the dug in defenders with close range small arms fire, and the Shermans began lobbing HE. The 88s had recovered from the their initial shock and fired a deadly volley at the Shermans, driving them back in disorder before the 25pdr fire thoroughly suppressed them. On the front lines, the weight of Allied fire gradually suppressed the shaken German infantry and despite the personal intervention of the battalion CO (which cost him his life) they ended up hiding in their trenches. The allies launched another assault and this time the defenders either routed and surrendered. It was time for the Germans to pack up and pull back to the next position, and their remaining troops melted away to the rear. The British had won, but it was a much bloodier and costly victory than that achieved by the original US commander (whose wide outflanking induced the Germans to simply pull out when their communications were threatened).

There were some nice ideas in the game, I was particularly taken with the treatment of area fire, as well as the friction events built into the card drawn unit activation. We were a bit less enthused by some of the mechanism as the game slowed to a crawl once serious combat started, and artillery fire seemed to be far too flexible within the scope of game time. Overall it ran somewhat slower than a similar sized action using 'Battlegroup', but there were certainly some interesting ideas which will no doubt show up elsewhere.

Friday, 6 March 2009

On to Brussels

I ran my Waterloo scenario using Leipzig-Lite this week. It was relatively easy to set the scenario up as it has a similar unit scale to Horse, Foot & Guns, so I essentially just used the OBs from my old Waterloo-Wavre game, but leaving out Wavre this time. I had the Prussians arriving on a random dice throw through the afternoon instead.

There isn't any set ground scale, but based on the troop density, each square seems to be around half a mile (which fits in with artillery range) so it was fairly easy to set the terrain out. Somewhat to our astonishment, the game actually worked quite well. The C3 'system' introduced enough friction to things so that players couldn't do everything they wanted, and had to think ahead. Combined arms tactics were rewarded as the French managed to unwittingly repeat D'Erlons unsupported mass infantry attack in the face Allied horse, foot and guns and they promptly paid the price. French cavalry rushed to the rescue but D'Erlons Corps was fatally weakened by this reverse.

This prompted Reille to tackle Hougoment, but in the face of the Guards, supported by artillery and backed up by Dutch-Belgian troops, they too suffered heavy losses. Napoleon finally committed the Guard while Reille and D'Erlon pinned the flanks. As the Guard engaged, D'Erlons Corps broke so Lobau marched up to fill the gap. After a brief struggle, the Guard managed to rout the weakened Allied right wing, but not before they in turn broke Reille. The battered Allied left wing took to their heels as well, but Reilles troops carried the Guard with them. This left Lobau to face the entire Prussian Army on his own, and the Prussians set about a vigorous pursuit from which only one result was possible.

There were some good ideas in there, I liked the corps break point idea, and the very simple bonus for combined arms worked very well. Overall it flowed like a real Napoleonic battle, although there was little reason to keep a reserve, much more efficient to put everyone up front, which would require a bit of thought. Terrain effects would also need some work, there is no consideration of high ground, and I seriously doubt the ability of heavy cavalry to operate effectively in woods or built up areas! The use of skimishers when the basic elements are divisions also seems unnecessary. I've been looking at retrofitting Rifle & Kepi to cover Napoleonics, and there are some eminently blaggable ideas here to differentiate the earlier period.

Next week I hope to try out Ian Drurys 'Combat 300' with a battalion sized engagement in Italy, and I've already got a scenario set up and ready to go, but found a number of contradictions and oddities when transcribing the rules into a playsheet. We'll just have to see how we get on.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Quiet flows the Don

Not much gaming activity after the outing to Muenchengratz. I've knocked up a quick Waterloo scenario to try out Leipzig-Lite (from Baccus), which we were going to do this week, but instead sat around the club discussing John Armatys' exciting outing to Catterick firing Browning HPs and going on the L85 simulator. We'll probably do it next week now.

Otherwise I've been inspired by David Galntz's 'From the Don to the Dneipr' to work up some operational scenarios around the early 1943 Battles for Kharkov. Using Panzergruppe I'll probably have to up the ground scale to 15km per hex for some of the battles, and raise the element representation to half divisions, which will work for the pre-Kursk stuff. Post Kursk the unit densities just become ridiculous (Corps assault frontages of 5km) so I'll probably have to drop back to 10km hexes for that. Bizarrely the hardest things to find out about have been the composition of some of the key (and very famous) German units, the SS Panzer Corps and Grossdeutschland. The nice people on TMP have been very helpful though, and I've got a reasonable idea how to model these now. As even the biggest division is probably only going to rate three stands, it is all fairly broad brush!

I've also been thinking about mods to Platoon Commanders War to turn it into Platoon Commanders Counter Insurgency. These mainly revolve around having a bit more detail for casualties and casevac, as well as representing the training differences for different types of insurgent and the treatment of RPGs etc. I'll have to write these down at some point, but my new SLR toting Brits might well be having an outing to Kenya/Aden/Yemen to try some of these things out. I picked up a very nice Corgi Westland Wessex yesterday, which can fly them around, so I can see a spot of aid to the civil power coming on.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Clam Gallas gets it wrong

I ran a scenario covering the Battle of Muenchengratz last night (APW, 1866). Historically the Austrian 1st Corps under Clam Gallas had just linked up with the Saxon Army, and decided discretion was the better part of valour in the face of converging Prussian Corps, so they beat a hasty retreat. There was a minor rearguard action, but the Prussians stormed across the Iser losing only a few hundred men as the Austrians and Saxons slipped away.

I wanted to see what would happen if the Austrians had decided to stand and fight, as their position was actually quite strong. Tim Gow and John Armatys took the Elbe Army and 1st Army respectively while I ran the Austrians. The Austrians busied themselves fortifying Muenchengratz and Musky Hill while the Prussian columns sorted themselves out. The Saxons meanwhile turned around and formed up south of Muenchengratz.

Elbe Army got in a bit of a mess during its deployment, while its lead division formed up fairly smartly, the rest lagged behind and the Corps commander rode up and down the column trying to chivvy everyone along. 1st Army meanwhile got its skates on and aggressively pushed across the Iser in the north. The leading division plunged into the heart of the Austrian position, prompting one brigade to conduct a charge in battalion columns against them. Outnumbered 3:2 the Prussians took heavy casualties from the Austrian guns and rifles, and their regiments began to waver. Their needle guns inflicted heavy losses in return on the Austrians and pinned their units. A fresh Prussian division entered the fray, which tipped the tide in their favour. The wavering division held on and it was the Austrians turn to become disordered as the brigade on their right flank was shot to pieces. Another Prussian division came into action on the left flank and the entire Austrian right flank collapsed, leaving their guns behind them. A reserve brigade hastening to their rescue was caught in march column by the pursuing Prussians and routed.

Over on the left the Saxons and Austrians contented themselves with firing salvoes of artillery over the river, while Clam Gallas supervised the evacuation of stores in Muenchengratz. They seemed oblivious to the impending disaster on their right, transfixed by the attempts of the Prussians on the other bank to deploy. Eventually the Prussians became tired of waiting and pushed a division over the Iser north of the town and street fighting broke out. Clam Gallas now decided that perhaps things were getting a bit dangerous, but his convoy was trapped in the chaos of supply wagons. The town defenders only put up a perfunctory resistance once the Prussians closed in, and collapsed after a couple of hours fighting. Clam Gallas finally managed to escape down the road towards Jicin, as the Saxons decided they couldn't take on the entire Prussian Army and retreated southwards. Sadly for the Austrian general, he became entangled in more traffic jams on the road, and a Prussian division from the north swooped down and took his whole party prisoner. This left Austrian 1st Corps in tatters, and the Saxons once more doomed to take the long road to Jicin.

I was pleased with how the game went, and fully expected the Austrians to do much better. They did inflict heavy losses on the Prussians (some 4,500 vs 300 in the original battle) but in turn their forces were all but completely disbanded, vindicating the actual decision in 1866 to retreat rather than fight. The rules worked OK (Rifle & Kepi, available on my website) but I still need to think about the transition from squares to hexes, as it introduces some facing problems which I haven't quite worked through. We are having a think about large scale Napoleonic games, and it is possible these rules will work for that, but I'll need to re-work the balance between infantry, cavalry and guns. We are trying out Leipzig Lite next week, to see if there are any good ideas therein. I've sort of worked out a Waterloo scenario, so we'll see how it goes.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Attack on the Hochwald

I finally got to run my Hochwald scenario for Megablitz at the club on Wednesday. Tim Gow, Nick Mitchell, John Armatys and Jerry Elsmore braved the snow and sub zero temperatures and turned out to play. I felt rather sorry for the original soldiers having to fight a battle in weather like this.

The planning session we'd had a couple of weeks ago meant we got set up reasonably quickly, although for some odd reason it always takes far longer to set these things up than take them down. The Germans set up with their front line pulled back to Udem, 6th FJ Div holding the ridge, 2nd FJ Div holding Udem and 116th Panzer Div refitting in the Hochwald. The Canadians arranged their two infantry divisions in echelon to attack Udem frontally, while the Armoured Div pinned 6th FJ. The leading infantry brigades were provided with Kangeroos. The biggest problem the Canadians faced was fitting all their troops into the deployment area (just as in reality), the photo illustrates just how jammed in they were.

The Canadians rolled forward into a brutal frontal assault on Udem, right into the strongest Germans defences. 3rd Infantry Div burned itself out and was rotated with the 2nd who resumed the attack. Meanwhile engineers breached the forward minefields and the attached armoured brigade passed through to assault the German paras. The first wave of tanks was destroyed by the German infantry, but towards the end of the second day the infantry of 2nd CID managed to both clear Udem and punch a hole in the 6th FJ line.



At nightfall the Germans had had enough and fell back to the Siegfried Line defences. The third day was spent by the Canadians moving up to the next defence line whilst clearing the rubbled roads, mines and onstructions. As they approached the Germans demolished the anti-tank ditch causeways in front of their defences and waited. On March 1st a ferocious Canadian assault dashed the 2nd CID against 116th Panzer, meanwhile 4th CAD conducted battalion level probing attacks against the remnants of 6th FJ, succeeding in siezing a small bridgehead. The fighting raged all day, but as night fell in the incessant rain, German counterattacks destroyed the bridgehead in the north, and the infantry in the south had failed to make significant headway against the Gap. With the prospect of a breakthrough now looking slim, the attack was called off, having advanced 15km in four days.


In retrospect, this game was perhaps a bit ambitious for a club night, although we could have managed the last two days if the outcome had perhaps been more in doubt. Some of the mods I'd made worked OK (such as the terrain effects and increased combat benefits for defence), but some aspects were unworkable. The repair/replacement system was too complicated and it was easier just to allocate replacements to units in supply, and trying to remember which units had been in S for two turns in a row was too much to remember. It was easer just to give all units in S and extra dice and let them dig in overnight. I'm still not very happy with the actual mechanics of combat, units don't get pushed out of positions and casualties aren't a function of target density (unless using minefields), but it seems to work, and I'm not sure I have the energy for a total revision. I keep thinking that some of the mechanisms from the 1956 British Army Tactical Wargame would help, but really it would be a different game.

The players seemed to enjoy themselves, although the Canadians had quite a hard time of it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I can't help thinking that they would have been better off with a more indirect approach than a frontal assault on Udem. The Armoured Div was quite capable of rolling up 6th FJ Div on its own as there were no AT obstacles to stop it, whereas it was quite stumped by the Siegfried Line AT ditches. Having isolated Udem, it could then be reduced at leisure, whilst another division was supplied via the Calcar Road to carry on the attack. The Hochwald Gap was defended so strongly as 6th FJ was allowed to withdraw in reasonable order and beef up the refitting 116th Panzer. We are unlikely to play this one again, but I'm now enthused to dig out my SCW Megablitz scenario for the Battle of the Jarama, or possibly re-visit Operation Battleaxe (which most certainly is doable in an evening).


















Friday, 30 January 2009

Loose threads

Not done much gaming activity since finishing the Brits. I've still got to find storage space for them, but I'll maybe do that tomorrow. Went to the club on Wednesday and had a chat and a look around what other people were doing but didn't play anything. Spent some time with people playing a large game of Grand Armee, which has always looked like an interesting game system although a bit fiddly for my tastes.

I've sorted out all the stuff for the Hochwald game next week, just need to check it this weekend and maybe re-read the rules to remind me how Megablitz works. I also discovered in my bag yet another set of Sudan rules I must have been working on before Christmas, Redcoats and Rifles. I'll maybe have a look at those and see if I can work up a scenario. I've been toying with buying some desert Hexon boards, although I suppose I could always use my trusty old gridded brown cloth for now.

Not sure what to do next for painting, I've got 30 odd 15mm Argentinians (MJ), but Tim Gow says he has a bunch of Vietnam era US troops we could use for battalion level Falklands gaming. I've got some new battalion/brigade rules (Hex 300 by Ian Drury) I'd like to try out, and Goose Green is easy enough to do as a game. Probably not much point painting my figs up just for that. Otherwise I've got some odds and ends left from last year, mainly 20mm German stuff either bought at Triples or Partisan or inherited from another gamers game clearout. I've got enough stuff for another Infantry Division and some more Corps level assets. Might be fun, alternatively I could get on with rebasing my 6mm US and British stuff or finally finish rebasing my 6mm Rumanians. Rebasing is never very attractive though. I had a look at some of the new QRF modern Brits though, very nice figs. I'll have to work up an order for Triples and then it is Helmand here we come. So, I can't decide, have to see what the weekend brings.

When I've finished Ian M. Banks 'Matter', it is on to Glantz's 'From the Don to the Dneipr', so I expect I'll end up doing more mid-war Russians and Germans instead....

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Basing the Brits

I've been basing up my Falklands era Brits, I suspect that they will mainly get used for playing AK47 however, so I'm doing them to fit in with my other AK stuff and I'd like to keep the option open to use them on my grassy/muddyhexon terrain as well. As they are 15s I'll put them on my usual basing material of thick artists mounting board. Usual method:



  • Calculate how many bases required of which sizes (I have various templates to test with different sized vehicles).
  • Cut bases out of card.
  • Stick figures onto bases with UHU or Bostik. I leave guns and vehicles off at this stage.
  • Stick bits of magnabase on the rear edge, normally just a single 8mmx8mm or 10mmx10mm square. This allows for use with games which use steel markers etc. I often also write unit IDs on here.
  • Paint base in base colour, in this case a chocolate brown, using a cheap match pot of emulsion from Wickes.
  • Stick vehicles onto the painted base (but not guns).
  • Liberally apply diluted PVA and flock. For these I'll just use Woodland Scenics mixed turf so it matches my other AK stuff, for other figs I'd use sand as a base and work up from there.
  • Once dry, stick guns down. I always do these last.
  • Finish the edges of the bases with black marker pen.
  • Put strips of magnabase on the bottom of the bases.
Once it is all dry they can go in their storage box. Job done.

The trickiest thing is organising the figures, these were a bit of a job lot and as I'm not sure which rules I'll want to use these with, they could be anything from 1:1 skirmish up to 1 base = 1 company type stuff. I went for:


  • normal rifle groups with two figures abreast
  • command stands with one rifleman and one commander type figure (can double up as rifle stands)
  • HQ stands with an officer and a radio op standing diagonally
  • light support weapons (GPMGs, LAW etc) with two figs in column if appropriate poses
  • individually based leader/observer types to use as FOs etc
  • heavy weapons with a couple of crew and one weapon, I usually give MGs and mortars two crew and artillery three

all on 30mm bases. That should be reasonable flexible and looks OK. One problem I did have with these figs was that some of the MJ ones are enormous, more like 20mm, whereas other ones are a more normal size. The QRF figs similarly varied in size but were generally smaller, so mixing them on bases was a bit problematic.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

More game planning

Had a good session at the club on Wednesday. Both sides for the upcoming Hochwald game got their briefings and we spent an hour or so on planning. I think the casting will work OK, a pair of competent players, one of whom has a keen interest in logistics running the Canadians, and for the Germans two very experienced players, but one rather tired who will be ideal to run the shattered and exhausted 116th Panzer Div.

Time is so limited on a Wednesday that having time to think about the games beforehand can be very handy.

I'll maybe have another look at the terrain setup today at home, and take some pics to aid seting the thing up. It is such a tiny battlefield that the placement of each piece is vital. Must remember my camera for the game. I want to write this up for the Megablitz website.

Spot of painting

Fairly quiet couple of days, although I did a bit more work on my Falklands Brits last night. Painting up some vehicles including a Scorpion and a Scimitar (QRF, very nice they are too). Had a look at Chris Foss's AFV recognition guide for some ideas about camo schemes and I probably went a bit light on the black, it is supposed to cover 30% of the area of the vehicle.

I did my usual technique:

  • black undercoat
  • heavy drybrush of the base colour (Humbrol Army Green)
  • inkwash all over (does some shading and stains the colour down a bit)
  • lighter drybrush of the base colour (to raise the highlights)
  • apply camo (black in this case)
  • heavy mud drybrush around the running gear and lower hull
  • very light drybrush all over of white. This catches the highlights and makes them look dusty

I need to think about the tracks (I usually do the tracks and tyres after), I usually do them a rusty mud colour with silver highlights, but as these have so much rubber in them, I might do them black.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Website maintenance

In a fit of enthusiam I've done a bit of maintenance on my website. I've uploaded pdfs of two invaluable documents, John D. Salts collations of WW2 AT weapon stats, plus his collection of WW2 Operations Research notes in weapon effectivness.

http://mr-home.staff.shef.ac.uk/hobbies/history.html

I've also uploaded some rules, specifically my large scale nineteenth century wars rules, brigade/divisional WW2 eastern front rules and my corps/army WW2 operational rules.

http://mr-home.staff.shef.ac.uk/hobbies/scenario.html

Might put some scenarios up tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Game planning

For some time (well, about six years!) I've been planning a game covering the Canadian attack on the Hochwald in Febuary 1945. In the last couple of months I've managed to work up a Megablitz scenario covering the battle, and last years 20mm painting jag means I've got enough stuff to do the whole thing in 20mm, although I'll have to make divisional substitutions.

It is a bit ambitious for a club night game, (six divisions, six days) so we are doing a planning game this week and actually play the thing in a few weeks time. I've added in a few mods to the rules, partly based on the 1956 British Army Tactical Wargame, and I'm keen to use the logistical rules properly.

Current activities

Played a few games over Christmas and the New Year, notably AK47 and an outing of Tim Gows 'NATO Brigade Commander'. I got to practice my Russian assault tactics once more and crushed the feeble capitalists. We've also played an Operation Bagration mini-campaign using my eastern front variant of Norman MacKenzies excellent KISS Rommel.

I've also been enthused to start painting my Falklands era 15mm Brits (a mix of MJ and QRF) plus assorted support vehicles. They are partly with an eye to Falklands gaming, but also to add to my AK47 collection where they can provide support for my Nigerians. Doing DPM in 15mm has been a bit of a challenge, but I used a technique suggested by John Armatys:

  1. undercoat black
  2. heavy drybrush of tan/sand
  3. paint reddish brown swirls
  4. top off with green swirls

The advantage of doing the green last is that you can control the overall tone, and although the overall effect is exaggerated, it isn't bad.