Saturday, 28 November 2020

Table Battles - Bosworth

 Tim put on a game using an interesting card game called 'Table Battles' which lets you recreate biggish engagements ranging from Ancients right up to late nineteenth century.

To my mind the rules have something of a heritage of Waterloo 1815 in that the forces are represented by cards, which then describe what the units can and can't do. These include not only the obvious 'attack' type options,  but also things like screening, bombardment etc. There are restrictions on which cards can attack other cards, and unit skill and resilience is modelled by varying the number of hits they can take and the loss ratio they inflict in combat.

Here is the Yorkist battle line for Bosworth. The number in the top right corner is how many hits they can take. The key thing is the number in the squiggly line. This is what dice scores can be used to activate the cards. C3 is modelled by the players throwing half a dozen dice and allocated them to a card based on the scores. In Richards case. Norfolk can take 5s and 6s, Richard himself can only take 5s and Northumberland can only take 4s.  So if you throw a bunch of 1s and 2s, you are stuck.

What is nice is that you can build dice up on a card, so e.g. Norfolk could build up a pile of e.g. 6 dice over a few turns. This would allow him to make a much stronger attack (inflicting one hit per dice, but only suffering one hit overall) at the cost of time.

In this scenario, Northumberland is in reserve, and can only be activated by Richard who needs to build up a whopping five dice to carry out that action.  Richards strategic choice is then essentially to try and fight with the cards he has got at a force disadvantage, or play a longer game and hope he can hang on until Northumberland activates. He only needs to rout one Lancastrian unit to win.

The Tudor army is a real contrast. Oxford  is similar to Norfolk, able to use 5 or 6, ad attacks in a similar manner - losing one hit and inflicting one per dice used. With a strength of eight though, Oxford is a tough nut to crack, and he has to be attacked first by Richards Army. Richmond can use 3 or 4 dice, and has the huge advantage that he can inflict one hit for no loss in combat, even though he only has two strength points. Essentially he is launching short, sharp attacks screened by Oxford, which can chip away at Norfolk and Richard. As he can use 3s and 4s, the Lancastrian Army will also have an advantage in C3 rolls over Richard. The Stanleys, like Northumberland, are lurking in reserve and need to be activated by Richmond.

The Lancastrian strategy is far more straight forward, attack Norfolk as soon as possible. If Norfolk is routed, the Lancastrians gain a morale chip and only need to rout Richard to win (Richards morale is two, the Lancastrians only one).

We ran this game twice over two successive nights and it went really well, although both were Lancastrian victories. Tim even managed to arrange things so multiple players took part (despite each side only having three cards!). Bosworth is just an introductory scenario, and the series includes cards to cover some pretty big historical battles, including e.g. Gettysburg. For the larger battles the armies are divided into wings, with the dice allocated across the wings. It is an interesting take on warfare up until the end of the nineteenth century, and well worth a look.

The boardgame geek entry is here: if you want some more info, video reviews etc.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

20mm Sturmtiger

This one is a bit of an oddity, a Sturmtiger converted from the Airfix one. Although I've done a fair few 20mm conversions, I can't claim the credit for this one, as it came my way via Mr Gow (originally built by his friend JR I think) . 

I gather it was based on an article in Airfix magazine which I must have missed or I might have been tempted myself!

It is essentially just a huge armoured box on a Tiger chassis and armed with a 380mm (!) rocket propelled mortar. Its closest Allied equivalent was the AVRE Petard. This conversion captures the heft of the thing quite well. Unlike the Petard, this one is a breech loader, but the huge size of the rounds meant the internal storage was very limited, so the crane on the back was to help load new rounds through the rear hatch.

The gun barrel here has been converted using a biro pen. The real thing wasn't quite so wide bored as 380mm is only 15", but it does look fairly terrifying.

It sits nicely on the suspension. The turret numbers came out of the spares box.

And the rear deck is suitably imposing with nice dep engine grills. I didn't dirty it up too much, just a bit of mud and drybrushed dust.

All I really had to do with this model was some minor repair work and a new paint job. This example is based on one captured by the US Army in 1945 (several platoons of Sturmtigers fought in the Bulge and at Remagen where they were tasked with destroying the bridge with gunfire!). It has a well defined 'ambush' scheme although the real one had a slightly more dense pattern of spots.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Norfolk Part 2

 Along with my visit to Muckleborough on our break in Norfolk this summer, we were regular visitors to the local shingle beach, we even swam in the sea a few times although the North Sea is fairly chilly at this time of year. The odd seal came to say hello too, which was a nice bonus.

On the dykes through the salt marshes and on the beach itself were various old defences. Most of the pillboxes had succumbed to the relentless sea, however... 

There was this rather fine specimen half buried in shingle. I'm not convinced North Norfolk would have been the best place to invade Britain, but it was nice to see some of the old defences left. 

Further back in the marshes was this delightful pre fabricated steel pill box, still in its concrete pit. It was missing its hatches but was otherwise in great condition, plenty of space inside for a Bren team plus a few home comforts. 

Along with coastal excursions (which generally seemed to feature eating cakes or scones at some point) we went to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition at Houghton Hall South of Kings Lynn. Along with the permanent and visiting exhibitions, there is a magnificent collection of toy soldiers, well worth the admission price alone. 

The house was established by Walpole in the 1700s and is  close to the Royal Estate at Sandringham,  but the toy soldier collection was started by the 6th Marquess of Cholmondley in the 1920s and now has over 20,000 figures. 

I couldn't really do the whole thing justice, but here are a few things which caught my eye. 

Mounted bandsmen

The British Army in Egypt in review. 

Charge of the Light Brigade 

Camp scenes

British Army review (again). In Britain this time. 

I think this is the relief of Khartoum 

Napoleon and his HQ. 

Wellington (we already met Copenhagen at the Muckleborough Collection) 


21st Lancers charge at Omdurman. I expect young Lt Winston Churchill is among that lot but I couldn't pick him out. 

Another mounted band. 

Various large scale Napoleonic French (with another Napoleon) 

There is a huge diorama of Waterloo, and unlike the Siborne one, it shows different stages of the battle from each of its four sides. This one is the attack of the Guard. I'll let you work out the two above. What a clever idea and very effective. 

Another camp scene. 

Lots of the dioramas featured flats, here are two examples. 

This is what we actually came to see, more magic from Anish Kapoor. This sky mirror was just astonishing, true interactive public art, like The Bean in Chicago. 

Even if you aren't that bothered about the art (although the gardens are beautiful and worth visiting for the Henry Moore alone) the toy soldiers are just fabulous.