Saturday 29 December 2018

Club Games Day 2018

Every Christmas, the Sheffield Wargames Club usually has an extended game day, and this year it was on Thursday 27th December. Around 20 people turned up for the afternoon and evening with several games on the go. The club also laid on a buffet (as if we hadn't already eaten far too much!).

There was this rather grand Shako 6mm game of Quatre Bras.

British reinforcements piling on.

View from the Allied left as 'Ney' throws some dice. 

There was also a 28mm desert skirmish game.

Nick and Jerry were playtesting a new version of Bush Horizon, this particular scenario featuring a circular table!

Jerry was defending this rather grand office building.

Including AA missiles.

We rolled out a Command and Colours Napoleonic game - the Battle of Castricum (to be fully featured in a future game report).

Here the brave French take on the wicked English invaders.

I brought along this nostalgic old game, AHGCs 'War at Sea'. Still a fun game even after all these decades. The Allies decided to contest every sea are on the first turn, while the Axis pondered a response. In fact the Italians came out to play, but devastating British air strikes crippled much of their fleet.

In later turns the shiny new Bismarck accompanied by Scharnhorst and Graf Spee (the Gneisenau had been sunk earlier) contested the North Atlantic.

Allied ASW put paid to all their escorting U-Boats. Ouch!

And in the bloody engagement which followed allied aircraft drove off Spee and Scharnhorst, while the Bismarck was crippled and Prinz Eugen sunk. We called it a day after a few turns as we were all tired, but it still rattled along well. Perhaps we can try it on a club night in future.

All in all a very pleasant afternoon and evening, and a nice way to ease out of the stress of Christmas entertaining.

Saturday 22 December 2018

Achilles IIc

In my post about the Battlefront M10s (here), astute readers may have wondered why I only built two, when the more modern BF offerings typically come in platoon sized boxes. Well, all can be revealed!

Another 'idle shopping list' item I've had for a while has been a couple of 15mm Achilles SP AT guns. Having  picked up a box of four Battlefront M10s at the Bring and Buy, I wondered if along with building two normal M10s, I could turn my hand to converting two of them into Achilles. My original plan had been to buy a couple from QRF.

Here they are in all their splendour, so I obviously did manage it.

At first I was resigned to having to make the much rarer Achilles I with a normal M10 turret as I didn't fancy converting the counterweights. While rummaging around in the pile of scrap metal in the BF M10 box, much to my delight, I found a couple of the 'duck bill' turret counterweights. Achilles IIc here we come! I hadn't realised until I did some research that a lot of later M10s also had duck bill counterweights. The model itself was the usual BF horror with a mix of resin, plastic and metal parts which I ended up sticking together with liberal amounts of blu tak soaked in superglue.

The major addition was the 17pdr gun barrels, which had a distinctive extra weight near the muzzle, and a collar when they entered the mantlet. Fortunately I had some spare 17pdr gun barrels left over  from PSC Shermans, and a blob of blu tak soaked in superglue gave a very passable impression of the mantlet collar when the gun was pushed into it and the excess welled out.

The only other thing was the extra counterweight on the gun barrel, which I made up out of a thin strip of electrical tape glued into place. The extra weight behind the muzzle brake is an important part of the 'look' of the thing.

I used the supplied crew, although as with the M10s I only used two figures. Real Achilles crews seemed to wear a very motley collection of headgear, but the RAC helmet seemed quite popular so I just filed down the  M1 pots of the US crew figures into a passable approximation. I thought about converting the 76mm breech into a 17pdr breech, but I couldn't face dealing with the resin moulding so I left it alone.

I think they look the part although the PSC gun barrels look a bit delicate compared withe clunky PSC mouldings. As with the M10s, I added some of the supplied stowage but in this case finished them in the late war British camo shade (SCC15) which started ut looking like US Olive Drab but faded fairly quickly to a greenish shade. Vallejo Russian uniform over a black base is a decent approximation. I should probably have washed them in bronze green too like the M10s and then lightened them up again to give the colour a bit of depth but I didn't bother. Instead they got the usual mud all over the tracks and running gear, and light drybrush of pale tan. I also didn't bother with any markings, the lower hull and mudguards were covered in mud in any case.

Monday 17 December 2018 so many..

After last times successful outing (see here), we had another go with the Pz8 air combat rules, but this time with bigger hexes and more German bombers!

Tim and I were typecast as snarling Nazi Luftwaffe types, joined by Dave commanding one of the Bf 109 sections. The Few were represented by Graham and Jerry (in his fathers RAF hat).

We had Dorniers instead of He 111s this time. Big old planes, it was a good job we were using the bigger hexes. Tim was playing the bombers. He was very excited to discover they had a forward firing MG as well as rear guns.

As before we had a finger four of Bf 109s. Dave and I had two fighters each.

The RAF had a section of Hurricanes.

And also one of Spitfires.

This time we had an actual target to bomb. This rather pretty village of Johns. We were aiming for the large war factory with the chimney.

Off we went, Dorners up the left flank with a screen of Bf 109s in front

The RAF opted to send in the Hurricanes head on while the Spitfires went high out on the the left.

The enemy converged on the flight path of the Dorniers. Dave moved to intercept them.

The Spitfires were too high for me, so I waited for them to reduce altitude and then turn in on their tails.

Meanwhile the Dorniers ploughed on.

While I chased off the Spitfires, the Hurricanes managed to take out the lead Dornier. Oops. Goering isn't going to like that. We did take out one Spitfire in exchange.

The other two Dorniers got through OK and dropped to low altitude for their bomb run.

Both managed to hit the target. That will show Churchill.

The Dorniers headed for home and the pursuing RAF managed to damage one.  We downed two more Hurricanes in exchange and the RAF broke off the action.

That went a lot better than last time as we'd all got the hang of 'flying' a bit more. The bigger hexes really helped with the various markers and avoiding excessive clutter. The only downside was that it took two boxes of Hexon to produce a reasonable sized playing area.

Dave noted it was different to the air rules they usually play in that it is fairly easy to get into a firing position, but hard to actually score effective hits. At least the players get to shoot at stuff fairly frequently. We all agreed it was a success and are looking forward to the next outing, possibly to the Pacific.

Saturday 8 December 2018

BF Wespe

Another item on my vague wargames wishlist (well, not that vague, I have a spreadsheet) was a 15mm Wespe. You really can't have too much artillery for operational games, but I wasn't in a tearing hurry.

Anyway, sitting on the club Bring n' Buy was an assembled but unpainted BF Wespe for the princely sum of £1. It would have been rude to say no.

Here it is waiting to drop shells on some poor unfortunate. No assembly was required, but I did have to prise it off a base when it had been stuck down very firmly with hot glue. Unlike the horrible M10s, this was a more traditional BF resin vehicle with metal tracks and fittings. The crudity of the metal trackcasting really showed so I can see why they switched to plastic.

It sits OK though and looks the part. I researched various Wespe colour schemes but in the end just went with boring late war dunkelgelb and disruptive camo. Balkan crosses seem to be ubiquitous so I stuck a couple on as well. They make nice aiming marks.

I made up a couple of crew figures. One is converted from a sitting PSC Panzergrenadier, the other started life as a Russian horse cart driver. Well, he's got a sidecap, jackboots and a tunic on so that'll do. I think crew are a must for SPGs, they look a bit silly otherwise.

It has some nice sharp edges to pick up a drybrush.

For a quid you can't go wrong really, but it turned out very well. Into the storage box it goes, awaiting a game opportunity.

Saturday 1 December 2018

Dragon Warriors

Graham brought along a set of RPG rules I'd not heard of before, Dragon Warriors (?). It was a fairly standard D&D derivative, but unusual in that it was published in a series of novel format books and including scenarios as well as the rules, with a series of expansion introducing new character classes and missions.

The great sorting out of funny dice and player sheets was very familiar.

Here are my two brave adventurers.  Barbarian called Gundahar, and a Wizard called Slarty Bartfast. I never said I was imaginative.

Tim had these two, a Knight and a female warrior.

John also had a Knight and another Babarian.

The character sheets were all familiar stuff, although the stats were slightly different to D&D, T&T or D20. Hilariously my wizard was rather dim with poor psionics, but was very strong. I did wonder if he had chosen the right career!

We started off in the inevitable village looking for a patron. My wizard entertained himself by challenging all comers to arm wrestling in the pub with his superhuman strength, while charging the villagers to heal minor ailments and putting on 'special' illusion shows for discerning and discreet punters to bring in some cash.  

Eventually we met up with the local priest who had a tale to tell of hidden treasure and wicked fairies.

So off we went into the catacombs (you'll have to use you imagination here). The figure lying down indicates an unfortunate encounter with a poison gas booby trap. I bravely stayed at the back, maybe my wizard wasn't as dim as his stats said.

After various adventures we came across a rather large Dragon on an ever larger dragon hoard. Luckily for us, it didn't want to eat us all up, but instead engage in a riddle contest.

We put out best minds onto it (so not me).

The GM was suitably unimpressed. The Dragon still didn't eat us up though, so that was good.

I recorded our route for posterity. When I was a teenager we used to do this stuff on graph paper in 5' increments, but I've obviously been playing too many computer games as this is a sort if wierd isometric view. I also got north and south mixed up!

Having survived our encounter with the dragon, we called it a day. It was actually a lot of fun, as RPGs are all about the people rather than the rules. John promised to introduce Graham to Challenges and Adventures at some point, for a very modern take on the RPG format.

Saturday 24 November 2018

BF M10s

Like many wargamers, I have a vague shopping list in my head of things I 'need' but can't actually be bothered to buy at outrageously inflated current retail prices. Available as a bargain however....

One such item on that list are a couple of M10s for my 15mm US forces. I had thought of buying some QRF ones, but imagine my delight when some unbuilt Battlefront M10s turned up on the club Bring n' Buy.

Here they are in all their glory, out looking for Tigers to blow up.

In fact they are horrible models, a real dogs dinner with resin bodies and turrets, the plastic track sprues from the BF Sherman models and a pile of scrap metal which on closer inspection turned out to be the crew, assorted stowage, turret counterweights and the all important gun barrels. 

By the application of large amounts of blu tak and gel superglue I eventually got the monstrosities to stick together, and they then didn't look too bad. Dear me, give me plastic any day. One saving grace was that the Sherman sprues yielded some useful gun barrels and hatches for the spares box.

It was nice to have some stowage options included, so I adorned them with various tarpaulins etc.

The hull and turret castings are well done with somewhat exaggerated raised detail, but good sharp lines which take a drybrush well.

I only did two crewmen in each, partly as it is nice to highlight the interior turret shell rack, and partly because some of the crew figures fell to bits as I tried to get them off the casting strip. Maybe the other guy is off to get some Coca Cola.

The deck detail looks good, and I really like the way the counterweights look like a separate bolt on to the turret (because they are).

This one has a great pile of logs and sandbags on the front. I lightly filed the helmets down so they can, at a pinch, pass as RAC helmets on British crews.

They sit well, although I made a mistake positioning the tracks  (the top edges should be more obscured). As they are rubber block tracks I only highlighted the outer edges with metal.

I did these in plain OD, as I've long given up putting lots of markings etc on vehicles. I'll do a few, but it just limits their flexibility. OD is also a tricky colour as it is so variable. I did these in Vallejo Russian Uniform over a dark grey primer base, then washed it with a thin wash/stain of Bronze Green. It came to OK I think and obviously the wash provides some shading. Otherwise I just did all the running gear and tracks in mud, and gave the whole thing a light drybrush of pale tan. The flesh on the crews and the brass shell casing also got a brown ink wash.

So there we go, a worthy addition to my sea of Olive Drab AFVs. They can passably serve with my US and British forces, and even serve as the handful (iirc 52) of M10s sent to the Russians. Interestingly the Russians made exactly the same complaint as the Allies, namely that sub units misused them as tanks and the crews suffered heavy casualty from shell splinters as a result.