Saturday, 12 August 2017

Berlin to the Baltic Part 1. The Cold War.

We recently went on holiday to Germany and cycled from Berlin to the Baltic via Poland, with some interesting historical encounters along the way.


The Berlin TV tower, the DDRs brash statement of supremacy over West Berlin.




Some of the fabulous exhibits in the DDR museum, including the interactive East German flat, the contents of the NVA recruits locker and the Warsaw Pact plan for the invasion of West Berlin. The flat experience was hilarious, with broken lifts and animated views of the socialist utopia outside.


The monument to freedom in Stettin, which commemorates the 1970 uprising against the Polish government. I'd never even heard of this before, but it involved an attempt to storm the ex-Gestapo HQ just across the road, which became the Polish police HQ after the war.


A rather beaten up ex Soviet sub moored in Peenemunde harbour. It was badged up as a 'U Boat, so I was rather expecting a WW2 era one, but I suppose they are all U-Boats..


A Trabant still in use in Stralsund, rather than the tourist ones in Berlin.


This rather fine sail training ship was sunk in WW2, but raised by the Russians and taken as a reparation. It ended up stranded in Newcastle after the collapse of the USSR and eventually made its way back to Germany and is now moored in Stralsund.



The Russians left a souvenir on the forward deck.






Various bits of the Berlin Wall that are still left.


Reproduction of Checkpoint Charlie.


 Entering and leaving the 'Democratic Sector' at Nordbanhof.






A rather more cheery bit of the wall at the East Side gallery.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Arras

I have slowly been accumulating early war western front stuff in 15mm in the last decade, the last major outing was 10th Panzer Divs adventures outside Calais a good few years ago now. I fancied putting on something light to pass the time before COW, and came across a reasonably decent Memoir 44 scenario for Arras. It was a bit bland so I tarted it up with some extra unit types and reworked the OB so it was a bit more historical.


7th Schutzen Regiment, I/7th Panzer Regiment and the divisional artillery and Flak battalion all lined up. Those naughty boys of SS Totenkopf just visible in the foreground.


4th RTR and 6th DLI nearest the camera, 7th RTR, 8th DLI and 96 Field Regiment in the distance.


General overview. Arras is off the top left edge. John and Jerry took the Germans for this game, Tim and Graeme the British. Along with their numerical superiority, the Germans also get six command command cards to four for the British. Oh dear! The British however have Matildas....


Action opened on the right as 7th RTR and 8 DLI faced off against Totenkopf.


7th Panzer rolled into action in the centre as waves of infantry and guns pushed forwards (the infantry very wisely hiding in any available cover).  A couple of companies of Pz 38s roared forwards.


The British responded with squadrons of Matilda 1s supported by infantry and 2pdrs. One squadron of Matildas gave the SS a nasty fright.


A tank battle raged in the centre of the table, the Panzers coming off worse in the encounter.


A squadron of French Curtis Hawks (thanks for the model Tim!) turned up to add insult to injury.


The Matildas then charged the German gun line, and although the SS artillery battalion was overrun, the tanks finally succumbed to concentrated gunfire.



The British followed up with another push on the right. The Hand of God is seen here manouvering another squadron of Matildas.


The British then played their ace card, 'armoured assault' and all the remaining British armour surged forwards. Hiding in the woods didn't do these SS chaps any good and they were overrun.


Over on the left, the Matildas faced off against more Pz 38ts and infantry from 7th Panzer Div.



Which ended in a  bit of a standoff as the British were heavily outnumbered and outgunned.


Over on the right though, despite inflicting some damage, the last of SS Totenkopf were overrun and destroyed at which point the British had obtained enough medals to claim a victory.

I was very pleased with how this went, and somewhat amazed that despite the limitations of the Memoir 44 engine, there was actually a vague resemblance to the historical course of events. A particularly glorious moment was the Matildas charging the German gun line, and it was very pleasing to see the SS vanish under the tracks of the mighty Royal Tank Regiment. I was a bit surprised the Brits pulled it off given their command and numerical disadvantage, but they managed to 'get there fastest with the mostest' more frequently then the Germans. 

The variant rules seem to work well enough, and I think I just need to focus on scenarios with an interesting mix of troop types to keep it fresh. One thing I'd like to introduce are HQ/Leader type units as they work very well in all the other Command and Colours rules, but I need to figure out how to do it without having to redo the Memoir 44 card deck. Well, it is always good to have a project.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

COW 2017

Time for the annual jaunt to the Conference of Wargamers again, and a trip to Knuston Hall in sunny Northamptonshire. One of the gaming highlights of the year, and an opportunity to catch up with friends, I always find this to be both relaxing but at the same time exhausting.

Knuston Hall greets us once more.


A packed timetable this year, over 40 sessions. Amazingly, there were far fewer amendments than previous years. I was putting on two games this year, one on Friday evening and the other Saturday afternoon.


John B introduces the plenary game, a large multiplayer committee game based around the 1961 Berlin crisis. The player teams took on the role of the various protagonists involved, and fortunately we managed to avoid nuclear war (even if the US did get to Defcon 2 at one point).


I helped run 'A Platoon Commanders War' with John A. This has already been to Partisan and will be going to The Joy of Six soon. The punters are wondering how to get their chaps over all that nasty open ground.


'Firefights Grand Day Out'. An introduction to the original SPI Firefight led by Russell K and John DS, as well As two more modern variants. Russells version with toys and Johns 'Gunner, Sabot, Tank' using 100m hexes.


My British mech infantry platoon heavily dug in shows a company of T62s that infantry dug in on reverse slopes and armed with Carl Gustavs and Wombats can make a bit of a mess of tanks.


'If you Tolerate This'. Grahams 15mm divisional level SCW game played on offset squares.


John B introduces 'Fall Eidelweiss', an operational game of the German attack on the Caucasus in Jiuly 1942. The players were army and front commanders respectively.


The battlefield, represented as a point to point map.


I drew the role of Stalins representative to keep an eye on the comrades (and also manage logistics and internal security). I found this handy score chart useful to keep track of who demonstrated true commitment to the principles of Marxism-Leninism. The navy did rather well.


On Saturday I ran 'Kartenpsiel', a somewhat abstract game covering army command in the early nineteenth century. Here the various Corps commanders confer with Wellington.


And on the other side, Massena hands out some reserves to his Corps. We managed to run this twice in a rather noisy session which demonstrated the full range of human ingenuity and frailty. I shall report more fully in due course in the pages of 'The Nugget'.


On Saturday evening we played Toms WW1 trench raid game. Effectively it make WW1 into a D&D game, and was really rather good. 


Here we are creeping through Nomansland in the dark trying to find a gap in the wire.


Here is something! Time to bash the beastly Boche. Having duffed up the minenwerfer crew we made a hasty exit, only to find we'd completely missed our main objective. Oh dear.


On Sunday Andrew R ran this rather splendid area movement game covering the Battle of Stalingrad with week long turns. The Germans are pondering their options.


The Russians are forced back into the city. In the end the Germans ran out of steam and the Russians hang on, but but not before turning the city into a rubbled wasteland. This was a great game with lots of applicability in other situations (thinking of Verdun here) so I'll be looking forward to the game write up.

Another great weekend with lots of food for thought. All the games will get written up in The Nugget in due course, and if anyone is interested in this, then visit the Wargame Developments website for details of what WD is about, The Nugget and the Conference of Wargamers.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Partisan 2017

We went along to Partisan recently under the auspices of Wargames Developments to run 'A Platoon Commanders War' converted to hexes. As ever, it was a great show with lots of eye candy, and we had a decent number of players for our game too, getting through several runs and well over twenty players. By and large I shall let the eye candy speak for itself.




These two were from the rather magnificant Too Fat Lardies 'Cambrai' game.


I was also very taken with these RJW pre-dreadnoughts.








These two are Copredy Bridge.




And a rather lovely rendering of Bunker Hill.






Another Cambrai game, this time put on by Kallistra. I was so impressed I picked up a copy of the rules.


Ah, and here is the real action. The players deep in thought as the try to figure out how to get their platoon over all that horrible open ground. This version of Platoon Commanders War is true 1:1 scale, with one figure per man, but also a 1:300th ground scale, so 12" is 100 yards (or rather, each hex is around 33 yards). Played with 6mm troops, this demonstrates just how empty the modern battlefield is.


Looks like the best way to biff the Hun is left flanking and bags of smoke. I'm sure that will do the trick.

A very satisfactory day out as ever, and I may have had a slight shopping accident (well with Zvezda kits at £12 for four, it would have been rude not to buy any). If anyone is interested in playing Platoon Commanders War on hexes, it will be appearing at the Conference of Wargamers, The Joy of Six and Partisan II later this year.