Saturday, 26 November 2016

To Boldly Go..

John laid on a Star Trek type game using his Planetside Sci-Fi skirmish rules. The USS Illustrious had detected an anomaly in the space-time continuum and went to investigate, but some wicked Space Goblins were also interested in the mysterious artefact. Jerry took the goblins, and myself, Tim and Tom the plucky Federation.

As is traditional, the entire bridge crew beamed down, accompanied by some red shirt security guards. This did not go very well as hordes of Goblins emerged to gun down the red shirts. 

Another party beamed in behind the Goblin firing line. This also didn't go very well as the tightly clustered target came under fire from rocket launchers.

The goblins formed a hedgehog around the mysterious artifact.

And despite (rather limited) planetary bombardment, stayed there. The artifact did not like being bombarded and disappeared making a strange grinding noise.

Well, that could have gone better. In fact we should have done almost anything apart from what we actually did, which was essentially to conduct a 'helicopter assault' into a hot LZ - with the bridge crew of the Enterprise. Maybe try scanning the area for life forms first, perhaps talk to the goblins, maybe beam the goblin commander up into the brig, maybe show them what 'kissing' is...

Oh well, that is that happens when you approach a scenario with 'wargame' in mind. I'd really like to try this again, and approach it with more of a Star Trek mindset. Lovely figures from John, which sound like an appalling ballache to put together.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

PSC 75mm LeIG

I already have a couple of  Peter Pig 1/100th 75mm infantry guns, but they are done up in late war colours and I felt the need for a few more suitable for the early and midwar period. I picked up one of the (astonishingly good value) PSC German heavy weapons boxes which includes four 75mm LeIG with a number of options including the Gebirgsjager variants.

I only made up a section of two in the standard tyred configuration to start with as I may want to make some spoke wheeled ones in future. Here they both are, lined up to provide fire support from the dining table.

These are beautiful, crisp models with loads of detail, and unlike metal guns, are really easy to stick together. I hate assembling metal guns, I wish they were all made of plastic.

I just did them with a couple of crew as these guns are tiny. I was fortunate enough to handle the real example at Shrivenham, and I'm not sure I could crouch down behind the miniscule gun shield.

The crew are from the figures included in the box, I just did a gunner and loader. For plastic figures these have quite deeply moulded detail, which takes a drybrush very well. The helmets are a little squashed, but at normal gaming distances this isn't noticeable.

I'm never really sure what colour to paint early war German equipment, I used to paint mortars, guns etc faded panzer grey but the Shrivenham LeIG is done in RAL 6006 (Feldgrau) so thats what I did these in. I rather think an 88 or 105 would look a bit silly in RAL 6006, but these look ok, and with a bit of a dust highlight, it all sort of blends in anyway.

I really can't recommend these highly enough, and as with all the PSC heavy weapons offerings they are astonishing value and very high quality, at least compared to their metal counter parts. If only Zvezda did their guns in 1/100th too, I'd be a happy bunny.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Merry Men of Sherwood

John put on this interesting medieval skirmish game using Jim Wallmans Men at Arms 'one brain cell' rules. It was a complex multi-player featuring myself as the Sheriff of Mansfield and Graeme as the local Reeve of the Manor upholding the peace against a distinctly dodgy looking  band of outlaws led by Jerry.

Messing things up for everyone was local dignitary Sir John Bassett who had invited the King to go deer hunting.

The field of strife. Jerrys outlaws were supposed to be up to no good in the vicinity of the mill. Some deer are grazing peacefully in the distance.

The Kings hunting party comes thundering, oblivious to everything else. A large hunting dog is in attendance.

Meanwhile, in the village my chaps and the Reeves men mill around. I suppose if we were trying to lure the outlaws into a trap, this was probably not a good idea...

After a while we figured out where the outlaws were and formed up outside the village. The white cards are order chits for the leaders. They can only issue very simple commands, the main one being 'follow me'.

Over on the edge of the forest, the outlaws have shot some deer and hope to grab the carcass before the knights can intervene.

On the other half of the battlefield we continue to plod along

By the skin of his teeth Friar Tuck manages to grab the deer and make it back in the forest while the knights look on.

This was really good fun, and the command system worked extremely well. Only being able to do one 'action' per turn meant the leaders had to really focus on the important things and the forces of law and order probably spent far too long sending each other messages to try and co-ordinate our forces. Even though not a great deal 'happened' it felt very busy and there was always stuff to do. I'd recommend the system to anyone, and many thanks to John  for putting on such a pretty and enjoyable game.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Pull up to the Bunker..

With huge apologies to Grace Jones for the post title....

I was sorting out some stuff I needed for a game recently and reflected on the large number of times my fortification terrain pieces have been used. Although I have plenty of trenches, barbed wire, pillboxes, dragons teeth etc one thing I'm lacking is actual bunkers, either of the shelter type or the artillery variety. On occasion I've even had to borrow bunkers from other people, oh the shame! So given the amount of re-use I get from terrain items, I thought I'd finally knuckle down and make some.

The mini-Maginot Line takes shape. The finished bunkers all lined up.

They are modelled on crude versions of WW2 German beach defence bunkers, albeit minus the extra concrete arms protecting the embrasure. Most of them I did as partially buried with the sides built up and some earth and grass on the roof.

At the rear, they all have a small door so attacking infantry don;t necessarily have to try and climb in through the gun slot. This example also has some air vents on top, made from Brodie helmets cut off from some spare Emhar WW1 British figures I had.

They all started life as one of these, a plastic end piece from a roller blind container. I have accumulated a fair collection of these over a number of bedroom renovations, and I picked a bunch of the more reasonable sized ones (approx 50mm each side). They were stuck down on 60x60 bases and textured with PVA, sand and static grass in the normal manner.

Some of them were very deep, so I cut them in half horizontally with a razor saw and made up new roofs from mount board, you can see the roof on this one. The embrasures were also cut into the plastic sides with a (very) sharp knife. To cover up the plastic-ness of them (and gaps in the roofs and walls), I slathered each in a thin layer of flexible builders filler, which also produced a pleasing concrete texture. 

To be used as shelters, the intention is to cover up the gun embrasure with lichen, as above.

And by placing a pillbox on top, they can be used as sheltered observation and command posts.

For an afternoons work and minimal expenditure, I was pleased with the results, and I can think of a number of scenarios where they will come in very handy, so I'll have to plan some games to make use of them.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Pteria 547BC

Tim put on this CnC Ancients game a few weeks ago, at 547BC it is positively modern. It featured a bunch of Persian upstarts led by some chap called Cyrus against the Lydians led by Croesus. Evidently he had a few bob as he had a huge army with all sorts of cool stuff and very tooled up soldiers.  The Persians otoh, were just starting to carve out their Empire and had a reputation for being pretty hard at this point. 

The armies line up, Persians closest to the camera. John and I took the Persians, Tom and Graeme the Lydians.

One fun thing the Persians had were these camel mount archers.

Whereas the Lydians had a lot of rather professional looking cavalry.

They also had a load of these heavily armed and armoured foot soldiers. Ooo-er.

Well, never mind. Our chaps had nice wicker shields, leather trousers and lots of bows. With which some hits were duly inflicted on the Lydian centre. Sadly Croesus survived the hail of arrows.

The Lydians committed their medium infantry and a terrible slugging match ensued in the centre. After a bitter struggle (look at all the hit markers!) the Persians eventually gained the upper hand and Croesus was left looking a  bit lonely surrounded by dead soldiers.

The coup de grace was delivered against this lonely unit of Lydian auxiliaries (the angry looking chaps standing behind them are Persians blocking their retreat).

Victory went to the Persians in this case and the Lydians withdrew. Historically it was something of a draw, but the Lydians fell back to reorganise after the battle and expected the Persians to do the same thing. Instead the Persians followed them and caught them by surprise. Lydia was added to the Persian Empire and thereafter Cyrus became known as Cyrus the Great.

Another fine CnC Ancients game, as we have come to expect from this excellent set of rules.

Friday, 21 October 2016

WW1 in five battles part II

Having painted up some late war German cavalry specially, I thought it was time to continue with our WW1 mini campaign using One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas. The first two battles have been covered in an earlier blog post.

As we'd already done 1914 and 1915, it was on to 1916 which meant breaking out my 20mm late war figures. The scenario was 'Static Defence', the Germans had to defend two key objectives but keep two units within 12" of them at all times, whereas the British had to take just one of them. The battlefield was bisected by a large forest, which rather got in everyones way. Jerry and Graeme took the Germans, whilst John and Tom took the British.

The battlefield from the west. The Germans have to defend the hill (which they chose to cover in artillery) and the town (which contained an infantry regiment). The rest of the Germans were located somewhat centrally.

The shiny new German cavalry. I had wanted ot pick up a Strelets set but got these Tumbling Dice metal ones instead. As the forces are randomly generated, I was pleased the Germans actually rolled up some cavalry. In this case they have dug themselves and their horses in.

'Gun hill' was covered in dug in German artillery, and was a prime target for the opening bombardment, which inflicted a number of casualties.

The British rolled up quite a balanced force, four infantry brigades, a field artillery brigade and a cavalry brigade which in 1916 they are able to convert into a battalion of Mark 1 tanks. Unsurprisingly they took the tanks

The British went left flanking with their entire force, and fairly quickly the massed German artillery destroyed the leading brigade, and tanks rapidly pulled ahead while the infantry struggled though the mud and artillery fire.

The German artillery began to suffer some more losses and switched some of their fire to engage the tanks.

The tanks closed in on the hill, and German cavalry decided on a death of glory charge and rather ineffectually enaged the tank.

The following infantry had meanwhile lost another brigade as the Germans in the forest woke up, but by now counter battery fire had destroyed one of the German artillery battalions.

Sadly the photographic record ends at that point, but the last German artillery battalion was destroyed and the cavalry driven off, allowing the very depleted tank battalion to rumble onto the hill and claim victory. This game was actually very close and I was deeply dubious that the British would survive the charge up artillery valley, but they gambled and got away with it.

So, on to 1917. As the Germans lost the last battle, they were defending again. This scenario was 'Melee', a confused fight over large hill feature, with both sides forces rolling up in dribs and drabs. The Germans started with two units on the hill facing south, and on the first turn three British units come on up the road after the opening bombardment.

The Germans rolled up an infantry heavy force, and put an artillery battalion and a regiment of 'heavy infantry' (chaps tooled up with extra machineguns and mortars) on the ridge facin gfsouth as per the scenario setup instructions. Half the British meanwhile came on up the road.

They tried to advance through the wood to avoid the German artillery, but the wicked Germans pushed their own infantry into the woods, and an unpleasant scrap ensued.

The British had clearly forgotten about the German reinforcements who duly rolled up on their flank. The fighting then became 'confused'.

The Germans in the wood were overcome as the rest of the British infantry marched on.

As before the British tried to hide from the German guns.

And ended up jammed in this almost square formation in and around the woods while they dealt with the German reinforcements. Good the Germans didn't have any MLRS...

While this was going on, yet more German reinforcements turned up behind the hill.

The British outflanked the hill, and after destroying the Germans on the crest, moved their artillery up

The last German infantry were overcome, but the hilltop was left occupied by a very ragged infantry unit, so the British pushed up their guns onto the hill.

On the very last turn the German guns destroyed the British infantry on the hill, but survived the British return fire. As exclusive control of the hill was required for victory, we gave this one to the Germans, which means they will be attacking in 1918. Very historical!

Monday, 10 October 2016

3 Div on D-Day - Morris

I've been looking for a few representative battalion sized NWE engagements to try out a revised version of 'Battlegroup' by John Armatys. Originally these were a pretty lean and fast playing set of rules, but somehow along the way I've managed to turn them into a bloated monster with endless fiddling and revisions. I went right back to the original set we played at COW some ten years ago, and added in the merest sprinkling of changes based on our experience of playing them in the last decade.

For scenarios, I recetly acquired a copy of 'Mapping WW2' which included various sets of defence overprint maps of the German defences around and inland from Sword beach, so I had another look at 3 Divs drive on Caen, and in particular the actions at Morris, Hillman and Periers Ridge. I rapidly discovered enormous discrepancies and contradictions in the various accounts of these actions, and settled on an 'average' version of these, partly with an eye to giving a decent game.

The first scenario was based on the 1st Bn, Suffolks attack on Coleville-Montgomery and the battery at 'Morris' (WN 16). As far as possible the map was based on the 1944 invasion map with overprints, which clearly show the positions of the company of Ost battalion troops covering Coleveille, but which are absent from most accounts. Apologies for the poor quality of some of the photos, clearly all the explosion were making the camera shake

A general view of the battlefield from the south (which covers roughly two map squares). Morris is in the foreground with the Suffolks forming up area east of Hermanville in the distance. The marshes in the top right are the boggy areas behind Sword beach (which itself is offtable).

We played this as a team vs umpire game, so the Germans are entirely hidden (apart from the known battery position). John was CO of the Suffolks, and Jerry and Graeme his trusty subordinates.

The British formed up to move out. John kept the carrier platoon in reserve, whilst Jerry took A company, the attached MMG platoon and 76th Field Regiment observer to establish an OP and base of fire. Graeme took B, C, and D companies left flanking with the battalion mortars in support to clear Coleveille from the north.

All went swimmingly well at first. The entrenched positions by the road were found to have been destroyed by the RAF and largely abandoned, but some enemy opened fire from trenches along the St Aubin road, and a firefight with B company ensued. 76 FR dropped a regimental concentration on one of the enemy positions, neutralising it.

The enemy were soon pinned by small arms and artillery fire (one platoon from C company also being pinned in the exchange of fire). The reserve platoon of B company, and remaining platoons of C company moved to assault.

The western positions were cleared and D company moved through to enter Coleville. It was discovered that the 'Germans' were actually Azerbijanis and only too willing to surrender once the British got close. The hit platoon of C company proved very hard to reorg though.

D company clears down the east side of Coleville. There wasn't any opposition at first, although they did find a house full of German casualties and medics. Further into the village, some light small arms fire came from a compound to the east.

The enemy troops in the compound were stonked with smoke and HE by the mortars, and a regimental concentration landed on Morris as B and D companies formed up. C company had found more Russians in the woods (who all surrendered) but some small arms fire came from Morris, which pinned a platoon of B company.

Once the barrage lifted, the assault went in. The wire had been gapped by the naval bombardment earlier in the and he artillery positions had largely been destroyed with the surviving gunners only too happy to surrender. A tougher nut proved to be the battery HQ which recovered from being pinned and held off an entire company asasult from their trenches, however B company joined the attack the HQ was overrun in a second attack.

Overall this was a very satisfactory game, and I was pleased with how it went, particularly how quickly the turns were resolved. We'll need to play a few more ties to see if I've managed to restore the rules to their former glory, but it is looking promising. The tweaks I'd made all seemed to work OK, but it is always easier to run games with an umpire, so I need to try an opposed game and also perhaps introduce some tanks next time.

For those interested in 'Battlegroup', the original was published in the Wargames Development Journal:  The Nugget in issue 204.