Friday, 14 May 2021

A Knight to remember

 Before lockdown we'd played a fair few skirmish games using Fistful of Lead in a variety of periods. Tim bravely took the plunge in trying to run a game remotely - the challenge being that it is a playing card driven system, where the players each allocate cards to their figures/units.

Anyway, the solution was fairly simple - every player had their own deck of cards, and Tim came up with a method to resolve clashes  when two (or more) players all had the card. This is a more common occurrence than might be thought as aces are wild, and some of the cards have 'special powers' which let you remove wounds, fight better etc.

The scenario was  medieval one. The hand of a fair lady was up for marriage, the groom would be whichever brave knight managed to return the favour secreted in the disused chapel below. 

The favour is on the tomb of the reclining lady.

John got to play the lord (busy kneeling in prayer), while Pete was the executioner - both keeping an eye out for infractions of the Code of Chivalrie. As you can see, we were playing this with Tims 54mm medieval figures. The bride to be was inside the tent.

A rather fuzzy shot of my knight, Sir Martin of Nether Edge and my two trusty retainers.

Sir John. What a great figure.

The Friar.

The inevitable lute player.

Pete the Executioner.

Sir Martin of Nether Edge. Huzzah! Not sure about the shield technique, but at least I've got a great big sword. The shield gave an additional armour bonus, and the sword an attack bonus in combat, and I'm already in full plate. Knights also get to roll a D12 in combat (normal types roll a D10 - this makes a big difference).  

Sir Mark. Not sure I'd go into battle a heart on my shield.

Sir Simon. Simons axe gives him a big damage bonus, if he manages to hit anyone with it. He doesn't have a shield however. He can always swap the axe for his sword.

Sir Tom. He looks a bit scary and has by far the biggest shield of all.

Sir Jerry in very fine Milanese plate. Sir Jerry was present on body but less so in spirit as real life Jerry was otherwise engaged.

Each of the brave knights was accompanied by a couple of retainers, an archer and a footman in light armour with some sort of hand-hand weapon (mine had a big axe).

Our parties were scattered around the chapel. Sir John watched form his tent over on the far side. My chaps are in the wood in the far corner.

Mark and I headed for the chapel from different directions while out arches traded shots. Tom and Simon meanwhile headed directly for each other! (in the foreground).

Tom, Simon and their retinues met in a clash of steel outside. Meanwhile Mark and I engaged in a little sword play in the chapel. My axeman went to go and see off Marks archer after he wounded my bowman. Very unfairly Marks spearman attacked me after I pushed Mark back, soI lopped his head off(!).  That was a bit of a surprise. An opposed dice throw of D12 vs D10 in close combat was fairly weighted towards the knight, especially given their added bonus of their heavy armour.

Marks archer ran away from my axeman while my wounded archer sorted himself out. Meanwhile Mark and I duelled back and forth. Outside Simon and Tom were knocking lumps off each other (all the red wound markers can just be seen).

I managed to push Mark back and rather than follow up, I took the opportunity to move forward and grab the favour. My archer mvoed up to cover the rear exit (with Marks dead spearman lying in it) and my axeman headed back into the chapel having seen off Marks archer. I was hoping to parry Marks comeback so I could make my way back to the tent.

Outside, Sir Tom finally felled Sir Simon. Unfortunately, Mark beat me and forced me back into the far side of the chapel, but luckily I wasn't wounded. My axeman however now appeared in the door behind Mark.... 

Things went a bit bloody at this point. Sir Tom decided to go and fight Sir Jerry who had been creeping up behind him, and knocked him to the ground. Mark felled my axeman with one blow, but as he was distracted, I managed to wound him and made my escape, ooops, calm and unhurried exit. Marks archer fired some ineffective arrows but I was away home free.

Sir Tom appeared to be the only survivor in the foreground as Jerrys retainers field before his fury. However I made it unscathed back to Sir John while my archer kept Marks archer busy.

I was deemed to have behaved in a chivalrous manner and worthy or marriage, but disaster! When I presented myself to the Fair Lady she was not there!! Some scurvy knave called Robin Banks had abducted her and carried her off into the forest.

Well, the rescue mission will have to wait until the next instalment.

That was great fun, a real hoot in fact, and FFoL worked fine remotely so I imagine we shall return to see what happens next. 

Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Zvezda Fairey Battle

I picked up the Hurricane I posted last week as one component of my early war British air support, but I also wanted something a bit more time period specific. Nothing screams 'France 1940' like the much maligned Fairey Battle, and amazingly Zvezda actually make one of these.

Like the other Zvezda planes, this was a nice simple model with few parts which all fitted together well. The main thing which struck me putting it together is that this is an enormous aircraft, so big that I'm surprised it isn't in their 1/200th scale range. I haven't built one of these since the old Airfix model back in the 1970s, and then as now, I was struck by the teeny tiny engine at the front. A nice big radial or twin inline engines would have made it look much more modern and like a lot of its contemporaries.

I did this in the same disruptive pattern as the Hurricane as one of the standardised disruptive schemes. Humbrol Earth Brown and VJ Camo Green 894. A lot of the Battles seem to have been painted with night bombing ops in mind, so I did this one with a matt black underside, which looked rather jazzy and something I'm more used to seeing on Lancasters and Halifaxes.

The canopy was a bit of a pain as it is large with a lot of struts, but fortunately the panes are quite large so it wasn't too bad to paint. I didn't paint in every single one. Looking at this photo, the camo scheme does actually break up the outline of the aircraft quite well.

Markings as supplied. To my great relief there were no tail flashes, and some of the letters were supplied in a strip and not individually. I find it is really easy to make make a mess of trying put groups of individual letters. Like all my planes, done in wheels up and no prop blades mode. The model came with wheels up or wheels down undercart options, and as the prop doesn't have a spinner, it was easy to chop the blades off. 

Here it is on the way to bomb the bridges at Sedan with a Hurricane for company. The difference in size between the two is fairly obvious (and the Hurricane isn't exactly a small fighter either).

And here it is with the 1/200th Ju 88 in the distance. Not very fair to compare the two as the Ju 88 was designed as a multi role fast bomber, whereas the Battle was only a light bomber and perhaps more comparable to contemporary biplane light bombers.

I don't particularly want to go back to Arras for a third time, but I've got a couple of other 1940 BEF scenarios in mind so I expect I'll be able to work it into a game at some point.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

The Road to Madrid

 Tim put on a Spanish Civil War game using a variant of Funny Little Wars, and due to the reduction of lockdown restrictions, we could actually meet up to play it face to face! woohoo! We did have to stand outside, in the occasional light hail, but for early April in South Yorkshire, the weather wasn't too bad.

The battlefield from the south, representing the University City in Madrid. Each paving slab is a terrain area, so if there are are trees on a slab, the whole thing is full of trees.

A big box of Tims toys. Cars, trucks and tanks in a variety of scales or provenance. Some Republican T-26s can be seen perched on top. These are very robust models so take being jumbled up together.

Republican Anarchist militia. This lot were the Durutti Column, ever popular with fans of 1980s post punk.

More Republicans. International Brigades on the left, POUM militia and Assault Guards on the right. All 54mm figures from various sources with many coats of a varnish. A good thing given the occasional rain.

The Nationalists were coming from the south, this was the main road into the city and we had to take as many building zones as possible.

The good(?) guys. A Tabor of Moroccan Regulares on the right, and some very smart Guardia Civil on the left with their white gloves on. We also had a battalion of Legionaries, a battalion of Falange plus some tankettes,  Panzer 1s and Condor Legion AT guns.

Tail end of the Nationalist column. Two 37mm AT batteries here, and we loaded up the Falange into lorries for a death or glory charge into the city, led by a pair of CV33 tankettes. The Army of Africa wisely decided to walk.

On the right flank Simon had the Legionaries and a company of Panzer 1s in the hills SE of the city.

The Moroccans were over on the left, hoping to flank the city using some handy woods.

The Guardia Civil were our reserve and formed up in the centre.

The road column was quite long!

The Legion pushed forwards on the right. 

Dear me! Lots of communists and anarchists hove into view, along with a very scary looking column of tanks. The Republicans had some serious C3 problems, with the various factions being more or less willing to cooperate with the orders from high command. The Tanks and International Brigades in particular seemed to get regularly stuck, while Colonel Orlov of the NKVD buzzed around in a sinister fashion.

The Legion started moving into the woods on the edge of the city. The tanks slowed down a far bit to negotiate the close terrain.

Some scattered fire came from buildings on the edge of the city. The tankettes pulled off the road to provide covering fire while the truck column moved up ready to de-bus.

At this point our pre-programmed air support rolled up, this beautiful Ju 52 in Nationalist colours.

And scattered leaflets all over the University! That was a good guess for an aiming point. The leaflets didn't inflict any losses but did disrupt the units they landed on for the turn, in this case a battalion of POUM.

The Falange de-bussed covered by the tankettes and MG fire from the Guardia Civil as the Legion entered the buildings. The Panzers moved out around the flank through the parkland.

The column HQ was established alongside the Guardia, and the AT batteries moved up to deal with the Republican tank threat.

More POUM appeared over on the right flank. We had lots of tanks over there however, and they didn't have any AT guns.

The column of T-26s lurched forwards and halted again. The Durutti Column is just visible to the right of the POUM battalion.

The tankettes decided they wouldn't try and tangle with the T26s and headed left while the AT guns moved up. The Guardia moved up to provide some infantry support. 

The Falange had meanwhile taking very heavy losses clearing the buildings on the edge of the city.

Over on the other flank, the Moroccans had extended into line while the International Brigades dithered somewhere on the baseline. A company of Assault Guards appeared on the far side of the woodland, they were fairly heavily tooled up, but I had put the Moroccan MG company opposite them. Hard to make out is a barbed wire entanglement right across the middle of the open ground.

Back on the right the Panzers poured MG fire into the POUM. All those 5 and 6s are bad news.

And two companies of Moroccans occupied a big building.

The Legion, Falange and Panzers shot the right hand POUM battalion to pieces.

One of the 37mm guns deployed, peering down the road. A T26 is just visible in the distance. This is a Tamiya model.

Meanwhile, the commander of the Regulares bit the dust. That is what you get for wearing a bright red cap. The tankettes had moved up in support by now.

Things were looking quite good on the right flank.

But perhaps not so great on the left as two T26s lurched into view. At least the Internationals were stuck in an interminable political debate, which didn't stop our CV33s spraying them with MG fire.

The Guardia Civil provided infantry cover for the other 37mm AT gun as the weaved through the BUA.

The Falange and POUM exchanged fire while my Regulares sniped from the ruined factory.

The 37mm battery very wisely debussed in cover and the Guardia set up to cover it.

The Moroccans lay low in the woods, but luckily the T26s proved incapable of hitting the CV33s.

Over on the other flank the Panzer 1s lined up to enfilade the Durutti Column.

The infantry continued to blaze away.

Oooer. A group of Republican T26s moved over to support Durutti.

The Guardia opened up with their HMG on the POUM militia milling around in the road.

And managed to gun down notorious Marxist revolutionary George Kopp! The Communists whooped with delight as it was one less for the firing squad.

The sneaky Condor Legion AT gunners pushed their 37mm to the edge of the buildings and drew a bead on the T26s while the Moroccans moved forward inside the ruined factory.

The Moroccans had finished off the Assaultos, and hunkered down behind the covering fire of the CV33s. The Internationals were still dithering around their factory.

The T26s finally got the range and one of the CV33s went up in smoke.

AS they were distratcign shootign the CV33s, this was the cue the Moroccans to charge the tanks with Molotovs.

Over on the other flank the Panzer 1s wisely withdrew from the T26s. The Durutti Column were largely decimated by now anyway.

The remains of the Falange fell back and our Ambulance moved up to aid the wounded. Now all the AT guns were in action, the Guardia marched smartly across to aid the right flank.

Sadly the Moroccans discovered that running across uneven ground carrying a bottle of burning explosives was quite dangerous. The anti-tank assault was repelled with heavy losses, but it looked glorious. (We would have had better luck if the tanks had moved up to our position instead).

The T26s knocked out the second CV33, as our37mm AT guns failed to hit anything at all. Tank gunnery was conducted using a nerf gun against physical targets of various sizes, and it was surprisingly difficult to hit anything.

By now the Legion had decided enough was enough and fell back with the Panzers. The Guardia secured the buildings on the right flank however.

The Panzers outran the dilatory communist tanks.

And with that we called events to a close. The infantry was largely fought out and non-one was going to be doing any more advancing. The Nationalists had secured around 40% of the city. which wasn't enough for a win so the Republicans had stopped the Nationalist attack. Hurrah!

The final drama was Colonel Orlov uncovering a nest of traitors, which ended up with half the Republican leadership in front of an NKVD firing squad.

The Communists looked on from their command post as the tightened their grip on the Republic.

That was great fun, it was really nice to play with actual humans face-face again. Tim had put loads of thought into the game, and was an excellent host. Having a whole day to play meant it could be a bit more relaxed and we could spend some time ogling toys and doing some socialising too. The use of the irregular paving slabs to denote different areas of terrain worked very well, and made a nice change from our more usual 54mm lawn games.