Tuesday, March 26, 2019

You'd Have to be a Lunatic, part 5

I did a terrain check last night to see what the terrain I've built for the Menton game would look like en masse.  I'm reasonably pleased with how it went.

The hill-with-a-barn-on-top in the picture above is a new addition in the last couple of weeks as are the two walled yards around the roadside buildings.

The terraced hills are reused from the SOTCW Salerno game at Gauntlet back in 2009. That was before I started this blog so they may not have appeared here before.  The largest of them is slightly warped so I may replace it with a couple of smaller ones.

I'm trying to capture the idea of leafy suburbs of mention.  Richard Phillips is bringing a couple of hotel-sized buildings that would add nicely to the scene.

Monday, March 11, 2019

You'd Have to be a Lunatic, part 4

It's a while since I blogged here but i've been working hard on getting stuff ready for my Menton 1940 game at Crisis Point.  Terrain is the main focus of my efforts, and I'll cover that elsewhere, but I've also done some preparation of forces.

Firstly, with the Blitzkrieg 1940 supplement giving different Force Morale tracks to different platoons, I thought I'd have a go at doing some for the specific units I plan to use:

I created these in Pages on my Mac.  I'll probably laminate them before the game.

I've increased the size of the box for your Chain of Command Dice as it's not unusual to have two or more on the go.  The FM tracking boxes are colour coded to flag up when the first negative impact occurs and the red numbers in the bottom right hand corner of each square show the number of command dice rolled and, in some cases, when a unit must withdraw to its nearest Jump Off Point.

I've completed my French platoon by adding three VB rifle grenadiers from Early War Miniatures.  The Caporal is an old FAA model with a rifle from the spares box modified with a Green Stuff VB launcher cup.

For the Italians I've now completed my Blackshirt platoon (or Camicie Nere Manipolo to be accurate).  They are a mix of Italeri Italian Mountain Troops with the feathers removed from their helmets, Airfix Italians and a few Airfix Japanese for variety.

The LMG teams should have three men but I plan to use a system of unobtrusive markers to indicate when a team differs in strength from the number of figures on the base.

The same will apply to this MMG team.  All the figures are from Early War miniatures.

Also from EWM is this engineer team.  I couldn't resist them when I saw them event though they were in Western Desert uniforms.  I replaced the original heads (which had sun helmets) with steel-helmeted ones.  One came from a SMG-gunner that EWM kindly added to my order and the other is from the Italeri plastics.  I also had to sculpt long breeches to replace the shorts worn by the castings.

The casting was a bit imprecise around the figures' hands and it was impossible to get a strong bond to the pole on which the barbed wire reel is slung.  Also the pole snapped on one side while I was cleaning it up.  I ended up replacing it with brass rod and drilling holes in the figures' thighs into which the rod could firmly sit.  I then sculpted new hands in place.

The Brixia 45mm mortar team is pretty much as it came, I think.  There were a couple of steel-helmeted heads as options.  I may have had to do another shorts-to-breeches conversion; can't recall exactly.

Finally, I wanted to add a mortar spotter to the Italian support options.  He needed to by using a field telephone rather than a radio.  This is what I ended up with...

He started out as an Italeri mountain infantry officer with a pistol.  A head transplant from another Italeri figure gave him a steel helmet.  I cut way his pistol and threaded some thin wire through his hand.  The wire was from one of those paper ties for a food bag.

I then sculpted the telephone handset and the satchel containing the phone from Green Stuff.  The wire goes into the satchel and then comes out.  It winds round a small cable drum that came with the engineer team, and then runs to the edge of his base.

There's a 47mm infantry gun and a platoon of CV3/33 tankettes to photograph too.  I'll get them posted shortly.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

I've not reported yet on the game of To The Strongest we (Gus, Ron, Leo, Arthur and I) played a couple of weekends ago.

I don't want to share too much here at this stage as it's one of the games I plan to run at Crisis Point.  However, here are a few pictures....

There's a real mix of figures in 25/28mm scale, ranging from very old Lammings to modern plastics from Victrix.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Shot, Steel & Stone - a playtest

I've been off work with equine flu but fortunately my condition's now stable.  (I'm here til Tuesday, try the veal).  So I took advantage of a day's convalescence to try out Shot, Steel & Stone.

This is the set of horse and musket rules in Henry Hyde's The Wargaming Compendium.  They are advertised as covering the period 1685-1845 so I figured they'd be spot on for my 6mm Great Northern War collection.

The rules use element bases and, at least in theory, individual figure removal. However, it's clear from photographs of games in action that most players have their figures permanently mounted on the element bases and use some means of tracking the loss of strength points.  I used a notebook with stylised depictions of each unit.

I ran a solo game based roughly on the scenario Henry uses to illustrate the rules in the book.  The forces used were bits and bobs of my GNW Russians and Poles transposed respectively into the imagi-nations of Zheltarus and Tszervonsk.

SSS (let's call it that) has varying sized units from extra-small (one base) to extra large (six bases).  This means that my four-base units, built with Maurice in mind, are "Large" in these rules.  This doesn't seem to be a problem though.

Also not a problem, as far as I can see, is the fact that my element bases are square rather then slightly wider-than-deep.

Anyway, on to the game.  Some forces of Tszervonsk were encamped at a bridge near the town of Lubomir (a centre of the Tszervonskian brewing industry).  They are led by the competent general Dragomir Dragomirov.  The camp can be seen to the left of the river in the picture below.

The only troops ready for trouble are two squadrons of the King's Valaks - A class, unarmoured, skirmishing cavalry with lances and bows in SSS terms.  They are patrolling the far side of the river.

Oh and a small patrol of the Lubomir Militia are guarding the bridge...

Approaching was a Zheltarussian detachment led by the hesitant Robert McCrumb.  We know he's hesitant having generated his character previously.  McCrumb has two infantry battalions, a regiment of dragoons, a regiment of cossack, and a couple of guns.

Turns are alternate in SSS.  The Zheltarussians went first and were able to bring on three units.  Hunni's cossacks dashed straight up the road making for the bridge.  The Poliakov Dragoons moved off to menace the right squadron of King's Valaks and Lukin's Regiment marched up the road.

Below we see the position before the first Tszervonskian turn....

Things then got moving quickly.  The right squadron of the Valaks took a reaction test to see if they could charge the Poliakov Dragoons. Being skirmishing cavalry they didn't need ordering to do this being used to operating away from their general's direct influence.  Unfortunately they failed he test so badly that they ended up retreating right off the table!

On the other flank the left squadron were delighted to charge the temptingly exposed flank of Hunni's Cossacks.  The results were spectacular.  Half of the Cossacks were killed in the charge and the Cossack regiment disintegrated.

This, however, left the remaining Valaks rather exposed.  Lukin's Regiment formed line astride the road and let fly a devastating volley.  The remaining Valaks were slaughtered almost to a man.

Combat is straight-forward.  For each base firing, roll a number of six-sided dice determined by the type of unit.  Modify the number needed to score a hit for things like range (three brackets), cover, target formation, and of course that old favourite "first fire".   The target then gets to try a saving throw for each hit.  The save number varies depending on who's hit you - 3+ against pistols but sixes needed if you're shot at by artillery.

I took my time with the game, not hesitating to go away and read the book if I didn't understand how something was meant to work.

When I needed to stop we'd reached the point where both sides had sent cavalry units along the river looking for places where it could be forded.  Both were ultimately successful.

Below we see Dragomirov's Panczerny crossing the river.

I decided that that the position was rather in favour of the Zheltarussians.  They had their two infantry battalions somewhat better positioned to take on the enemy horse whilst the Lubomirsk Regiment was in danger of being pinned against the river by the marauding Zheltarussian dragoons and decimated by the enemy artillery.

I enjoyed these rules and would like to get them to a Saturday Afternoon Wargame soon.

I still have a few queries.  A unit disintegrates when it reaches half-strength.  But is that half-strength in bases or figures/strength points?

With a normal unit being three bases this is a key question.  A three base battalion of close order infantry will have 18 strength points.  Does it fall apart when it's lost nine strength points or when it's lost two bases?

I'm also a bit unclear on reaction tests to charge.  Hopefully an email to Henry will clear things up.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

You'd Have to be a Lunatic - part 3

The first Italian platoon for the Menton 1940 game is finished along with a few support options.

For what began as a way of using up some Airfix Italian infantry I had going spare, this project is, as usual with these things, suddenly involving buying a load of stuff I didn't have.

The Italian Fucilieri platoon has an odd structure.  It's divided into two Squadri, each with two machine-gun teams and an eight man rifle team.  The platoon HQ is just a Tenente.  

Each MG team has a three guys manning a Breda M30 LMG and an extra rifleman and the two teams are led by a single Caporale.

The three-man LMG teams are from Dixon Miniatures.  The spare rifleman at the right end of the line above is an Airfix Japanese infantryman with a transplanted Italian head.  It's not clear in the photo but he's wearing a rather natty black, polo-necked sweater under his jacket.

The second Squadra's MG teams are led by a Caporale whose an Airfix Japanese infantryman simply repainted in Italian colours.  For me these are Vallejo Green Grey for the cloth items and German Fieldgrey WWII for the helmets.  Some of the knapsacks are in Vallejo Khaki.

The rifle teams are mostly Airfix Italians with a few helmeted Japanese thrown in.  Bothe uniforms have cloth puttees and the helmets are similar in shape so I think this works OK.

I've done a few support choices for the Italians.

I'm trying these days to make sure I have some wounded figures to show when Leaders are wounded in Chain of Command.  This guy is an Airfix Australian with an Italian officer's head transplanted on and with a little carving to correct the shape of the puttees.

Again demonstrating how a "cheap" army has led to a number of additional purchases, I went and bought the Italeri Alpini box.  Removing the feathers from their steel helmets I end up with a number of useful models, although they are a tad larger than their Airfix brethren.

This muleteer will do service as a medical orderly in Chain of Command games.

Last up we have this flamethrower team.  The flamethrower crewman himself is an Airfix German with yet another head transplant.  I've painted his tall marching boots as puttees. The Airfix Italians box is over-generous with SMG-armed men and I've used two of them here.

All of the men have dark red (Vallejo Burnt Red) collar "flames" as they will be used to represent to troops of the Cosseria Division at Menton.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Crisis Point 2019 Update - edited 28/2/19

Things are looking good for Crisis Point (30th and 31st March).
Confirmed attendees so far (edited 28/2/19 to include Will McNally, great to have you on board Will)  are:
Richard Crawley
Jamie Crawley
Richard Phillips
Andy Canham
Mark Julian
Ian Shaw
Arthur Woodward
Leo Flewitt
Ron Pierce
Russ Phillips
Kevin Tingle
Mark Kniveton
Harry Maudsley
Neil McCusker
Andy Taylor
Phil Buchanan
Mike Wallace
Will McNally
Mike Whitaker
Possibly Stuart Adams - family commitments 

We have five different games on offer, some of them consisting of multiple sessions so it should be very possible for people to swap between games over the weekend:

Rules and scale
Menton, 1940

French vs Italians on the Mediterranean coast in June 1940. “You’d have to be a lunatic to want to game that campaign” - Richard Clarke

6x4 table, 3 - 5 players

Could run Italian attack as game 1, French counter-attack as game 2

Richard C

Chain of Command, 20mm (may switch to AoF if need to accommodate more players)
Dertosa, 215BCE
Romans vs Carthaginians using fun, fast play rules.  6x4 table  
Richard C
To The Strongest!, 28mm
Piedmont 1794
Small skirmish during the French Revolutionary War. 3x3 table, 4 players
Jamie C
Song of Drums and Shakos, 28mm
Gallipoli ‘89
1989 WW3 - Turkish v Soviet Naval Infantry/VDV assault on Istanbul. Gallipoli ’89, basically.  6x8 table
Neil Mc & Andy T
Cold War Commander, 6mm
Israelis in Beirut
1989 WW3 - Soviet naval infantry vs Israelis and various local factions. 
Kevin T
Force on Force, 20mm
German invasion of Malta, WW2 (two-day mini-campaign). 5x8 table
Richard P, Andy C , Mark J
Battlegroup, 20mm


The game slots across the weekend could be as follows:

Saturday table 1
Malta campaign
Saturday table 2
Menton game 1
Menton game 2
Saturday table 3
France v Austrians game 1
France v Austrians game 2
Sunday table 1
Malta Campaign
Sunday table 2
Sunday table 3
Finish Dertosa then boardgames?
Sunday table 4
Israelis in Beirut

 If the Beirut and Gallipoli teams (those who are there Saturday) want to at least start setting up Saturday evening after their Saturday games are finished I’m sure we can accommodate that.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

You'd Have to be a Lunatic - part 2

My on-going plan to put on a Franco-Italian 1940 game at Crisis Point in March has me building terrain.  The Menton area is characterised by steep hills rolling down to the azure waters of the Mediterranean.  The "Pearl of France" was then and is now, an affluent area and I fancied building a large villa with a terraced garden and, yeah, let's have a swimming pool too.

I've got some dark blue PVC board acquired as an off-cut from work and it makes great base boards.  On to this I've started to build up the three dimensional shape of the hill using foam-core.  All of the foam-core was attached using a hot glue gun.

The idea is that this hill will stick out from one side of the table, hence the flat edge.  This first bit of two inch high foam-core is to form a retaining wall alongside which a road will run.  Exploring the area with Google Streetview I've found plenty of these.

I'm going to use the old Airfix, now Dapol, semi-detached houses as the basis of my villa.  I have built this kit in the past and that previous model can be seen below for scale.  The new villa will be in brighter, more Mediterranean, colours and will get some modifications to turn it into a single dwelling.

The next job was to build up the structure of the hill.  This is the lower terrace with the depression for the swimming pool in place.

After the picture above, I glued on a series of roughly shaped triangles of foam-core to allow the far side of the hill to slope down to the edge of the baseboard.

Then I covered the triangles with layers of plaster-impregnated bandage.  The small, dark blue area in the centre of the picture below is a staircase connecting the upper and lower terraces of the garden.  It's made from off-cuts of the PVC basing material.

After that I coated the ground surface with my usual "gloop" of tile grout coloured with cheap acrylic paint.

I've also used Milliput to add coping stones to the top of the retaining wall and added a vertical row of stones to disguise the ugly join where the main retaining wall meets the recurving wall that slopes down to ground-level.

After that photo was taken I used some plastic strip to add seams to delineate the concrete panels that form the retaining wall.

At this point I had to build the swimming pool.  I had a plan to paint the underwater sides and floor of the pool in a turquoise blue and then use a sheet of clear plastic as the water surface.  However, I could see it would be difficult to attach the clear plastic to the sides of the pool with sufficient strength and without spoiling the surface of the water.

In the end I cut a piece of clear CD box plastic to make the water surface.  Onto this I glued 1 cm deep strips of thick plastic card to represent the above-water parts of the sides and ends of the pool.  In this case I glued using Bostick clear adhesive as using cyanoacrylate or polystyrene cement risked making the clear plastic go opaque.

I then glued the plastic walls to the inside of the swimming pool depression.  And yes, I did remember to paint the underwater part of the poll first...

After that had all dried, I cut squares of artist's mounting board to make the tiles around the pool (they disguise join between plasticard walls and foam-core pool liner).  I then added a finer tiled apron around the pool using some Wills textured plasticard.

As you can see, I've also added a brown base-coat to the soil parts of the garden.

The next job is to start building the villa.  More when that's under way.