Saturday, 24 September 2016

Zvezda T26

Another purchase at Triples 2016 were some Zvezda T-26s. I already have some Peter Pig ones, but I wanted some additonal ones so I can do a 1941 Tank Brigade.

I got four of them as you can never have to many T-26s.

A very simple little model which goes together quickly and easily, but with nice sharp detail especially around the running gear.

The sharp edges get picked up nicely by the dry brushing.

I was a bit concerned that they might be a different size to my Peter Pig ones (the PP Panzer IIIs are hugely bigger than my Zvezda ones), but in fact the hull sizes are identical. I should have taken a side by side photo shouldn't I! The PP ones have a different shaped turret so these make a nice contrast.

I just did these in plain Russian Green (Vallejo 894 lightened with a big dollop of ochre as it so dark), mud around the running gear and very light overall drybrush of Iraqi Sand.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Search for Hauptmann Horn

This was a WW2 Airsoft game organised by Comrades in Arms and held in the Brecon Beacons military training area in April 2011. It covered the landing of of Hauptmann Horn aka Rudolph Hess in Scotland and was an encounter between British Home Guard and regular forces and a detachment of German paras sent to get him back. It was only the third WW2 Airsoft game I took part in, I  was a Fallschirmjager for this one.

A degree of fraternisation took place before the game. The British even enlisted these tracker dogs.

The British stand around looking smart. The sergeant on the left is from a film unit.

Some SS paras tagged along with the Germans, evidently Hitler didn't trust the Luftwaffe to do the job.

The British were well equipped with home comforts.

Privates on parade.

News comes in that something is amiss (namely a crashed aircraft in the woods).

Meanwhile Germans are lurking among the steep and heavily wooded valleys.

The terrain was utterly exhausting, here elite German paras take a breather after walking up (another) hill.

The British scoured the woods.

While the Germans watched and waited.

Letting the British exhaust themselves.

After various alarms and excursion the Fallschirmjagers finally laid their hands on Hess, and managed to evade the SS who seemed to have other plans for him. Time to hide up and have a brew before marching to the coast and a U Boat home.

Hess himself, obviously contemplating what Hitler is going to say to him. His somewhat eccentric uniform was the result of a British subterfuge while they had captured him briefly.

Another elite paratrooper. Ahem. Yes I know it is the splinter A pattern and not splinter B on the jump smock, I have subsequently purchased another.

This was great fun, even if it was utterly exhausting. One section of terrain took us three hours to travel a mile, but it was all very atmospheric. To cap it off, the British Army film unit made this rather magnificent film of the whole thing:

Monday, 12 September 2016

Edge Hill - again

We have had a couple of outings at the club of 'Martson Less' by Tony Cullen, a very simple and abstract set of ECW rules, and I was keen to see how they worked for historical battles. We'd already tried Neil Thomas's Pike & Shot for both ECW and TYW, and frankly, they were a little clunky in places. I could see how ML could easily be adapted into a more generic approach, but I also worked up some mods to be able to use them in the Thirty Years War, particularly the earlier period with Tercios etc.

I re-used the Edge Hill scenario I'd done for the Neil Thomas rules, but reworked the OBs to use with Marston Less elements. Tim and John took the Royalists, Tim C and Tom the Parliamentarians. We played the game with my 2mm Irregular pike blocks.

The battlefield, Royalists on the left, parliament on the right. For this scenario each element is around 500 men or eight guns, so the infantry regiments have two stands, cavalry one. ML is a grid based game, each 'line' occupying a zone, with the strength of its constituent elements. Both armies stuck with the historical deployment with Ruperts horse massed on the Royalist right and their infantry in a cumbersome chequerboard. Essex's forces are deployed in  more conventional straight lines.

Close up of the centre. The Royalsit infantry are weaker but they have their guns up on the ridge and able to fire overhead. Troop quality for the infantry units is represented by the mix of blocks.

After a preliminary cannonade, Rupert charged forwards and a bloody melee ensued. At this point the first Parliamentarian line has been overwhelmed and Ruperts victorious troopers have pursed headlong into the second line. ach line can take four hits (indicated by the white crosses) before it routs. At this juncture Essex decided it would be better to attack the ridge than wait to be enveloped by the Royalist cavalry. 

After a couple of rounds of combat, both infantry first lines were routed and the second lines entered the fray. On the flank, Rupert was victorious but failed (twice) to hal this pursuing troopers and they left the table to loot the baggage in Kineton. The Royalist second line was very weak (a single element) but managed to work its way cautiously into Essex's rear. Over on the other flank, some minor cavalry skirmishing developed.

Sadly for Essex, his army broke against the ridge and the survivors streamed off the table. Historically he declined to attack, and that was probably why! So, a strategic and a tactical victory for the King, but the war will undoubtedly drag on for years to come.

I was pretty pleased how this turned out, and the players seemed to find it enjoyable despite the limitations of some of the abstractions. We rattled through the whole thing in an hour or so and I'd like to try it for the Thirty Years are next

If anyone is interested in a copy of Marston Less, they are at Staines Wargamers

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Quarter Master General

I've been wanting to try QMG for some time, and I was very excited when Jerry said he'd bring his copy down to the club. I have always had a fascinating with grand strategic games of WW2, I played Third Reich a great deal, and even have two versions of Hitlers War (the AHGC version and the original Metagaming one).

QMG is an abstact grand strategic game for 2-6 players with units representing armies and navies (like Diplomacy), area movement (Risk/Diplomacy) and a deterministic combat system (ie no dice). The logistic elements and fog of war are generated by the card decks used to drive each countries actions (and they can also add a hidden element to combat). 

I got to play plucky Britain. Here the Royal Navy holds the North Sea, whilst the wicked Jerries and Italians have overrun Europe. The Russians still hold Moscow and the Ukraine, but DAK control North Africa. American fleets patrol the western Atlantic

A more general view of the map, you can see the Japanese rampaging all over the Pacific on the left. Also visible are some of the player cards and force pools. The 'status' cards are permanent modifications to a countries capabilities, and some of them are really very good.

Things are hotting up in Europe. The DAK has been destroyed but Axis fleets still dominate the Mediterranean and Baltic.

In the Far East US Fleets build up, whilst the Japanese hang onto the Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere.

This really was excellent, and although we only got around halfway through as we were still learning the game, it gave a good flavour if it. I was particualrly impressed with the way the card decks had been constructed so that each country felt and played quite differently. I can't even begin to think of how I'd design a game like that, and I'm looking forward to playing it again.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Partisan II 2016

I went along to Partisan II on Sunday, along with the Wargames Development Team (North), to run our participation game on Roman politics 'Cursus Honorum'. I'd not been to the show at the new venue and I was pleasantly surprised by the hall at the Newark Showground. It was light and airy (despite the August day outside), and reminded me a bit of the EIS in Sheffield. The show is divided up into 'zones', participation, historical and display with traders around the outside.

The WD table in the participation zone, John in attendance. Down in the demo zone there was amazing eye candy games.

I was very taken with this WW1 African beach landing game, based on Tanga I believe.

There was also this very nice Western Desert game.

TFL running a Sharpe Practice session (there were a couple of other games being run using SP as well).

A magnificent 1859 game, rather grander than my 6mm efforts in this period!

Down in the participation zone was an amazing game about the fighting inside Fort Vaux at Verdun.

Unfortunately this picture of the overall layout is rather blurry.

The inside of the French barracks.

Considering it was August, the show was well attended. People coming in the main entrance at opening time.

A general view of the hall.

Phil Steele setting up his Naseby game for the Battlefields Trust. I played this at COW a few years ago. I though thte idea of putting the terrain on the inside of the folding pasting tables was a brilliant idea as it combines portability with protection.

Highlight of the day was Graham Evans adaptation of the Waterloo 1815 mechanisms to play the Battle of Northampton. Very clever and inspiring as I have been scratching my head about how to adapt it for set piece battles in other periods. I managed to play it once(it is very quick) and Jerry played it several times.

Overall,  a very decent day out. Jerry thought the numbers were down on the earlier Partisan and we didn't have many takers of the game (half a dozen players in total) this time. It may have been a feature of the sheer number of games, but also ours was multi-player which may be have limited the interest. Next year we are looking at a single player game, which might work a bit better. It was very nice to catch up with lots of people I knew, and I'm looking forward to going back in future.

I had some moderate shopping success, getting some planned items, along with some unplanned ones (but as those Zevzda 1/100th boxes worked out at £2.50 each, they were virtually crying out to be taken away). The only slight disappointment was the catering, which didn't even have staples like Mars Bars (although I gather the breakfast bap was excellent). I'll know to pack more sweets next time.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Coronel and Falklands

One of my go-to scenarios for WW1 naval games is the paired battles of Coronel and the Falklands. They are small enough to be manageable, large enough to be interesting and by doing both, both sides get to 'win'. (Only a criminally negligent German can lose Coronel, even with the Canopus present).

In this particular case I wanted to playtest the joint modifications John and I had made to the naval version of the One Hour Wargames rules to make sure they could handle cruiser/battlecruiser actions as well as more traditional battle lines.

Both battles were played with my 1/3000th scale naval stuff at the Sheffield club.

Coronel, opening moves. Otranto leads the British line while Glasgow lurks in the background. Von Spee's Germans are all lined up with Scharnhorst leading.

Otranto takes a pasting (the big red blob is ten hits!).

The British reply against the big German armoured cruisers is modest.

Otranto goes down while Monmouth and Good Hope take some more hits.

The British T is crossed, with predictable results, and Craddocks squadron goes down.

So, off to the Falklands (clearly strong winds have made the camera shake in the observer aircraft). More fun for the British as Invincible and Inflexible present rather more of a threat to Gneisenau and Scharnhorst than Craddocsk elderly armoured cruisers at Coronel.

The mighty British battle cruisers, although the British player would be wise to bear in mind that these really are just heavy cruisers with 12" guns, not super fast dreadnoughts loaded up with armour. Something contemporary Admirals seemed to struggle with too.

Von Spee adopted an interesting converging formation, pairing up the armoured and light cruisers, while the British aimed to keep their BCs out of harms way and shell the Germans from long range.

A vicious close quarters cruiser action developed as the Germans tried to break through the Royal Navy.

The carnage continued.

But finally one of the German light cruisers succumbed. Meanwhile Gnesenaus was close enough to actually damage Invincible. Ooops.

The British suddenly realised the grave danger, but to late for Invincible which took a real pasting, only three hits off sinking. Gneisenau and Scharnhorst split up. taking on one BC each at close range.

Inflexible won its duel with only minor damage, and Scharnhorst went down.

But Gneisenau failed to finish off the crippled Invincible, and in turn went down in a hail of gun fire.

This all went pretty well and was a lot of fun. The British managed ot avoid the ignominy of losing one of their precious Battlecruisers and Von Spee put up a really heroic fight against very long odds. The game mechanisms all held together well, and by at large were the ones we used for Jutland.