Monday, October 1, 2018

Arboriculture Completed

It's taken a while but I have now finished those sprue-based trees.  So to recap:

Tree skeleton made from glued and melted lengths of sprue.  Stick to bases; I used plastic card glued to artist's mounting board:

Build up the bark with Green Stuff:

Paint dark grey having 'glooped' the base:

Drybrush lighter grey and paint base:

Add foliage by gluing on Woodland Scenics Poly Fiber:

Like this:

The paint with watered down PVA and dip into Woodland Scenics flock:

I then sprayed them with hairspray to keep the flock in place.

I think they'll do.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Mexicans, a stock taking

At the beginning of March I decided to have a go at building Sharp Practice forces for the Maximilian Adventure in 28mm scale.   So how far have I got by September?  The answer is quite a pleasing distance.

I'm not going to count my Mexican peons as they were figures I painted years ago for possible use in a wild west or pulp skirmish.

So what's new since March?

First up was this formation of contra-guerillas.  They are mostly conversions from Perry plastic zouaves but also a few Artizan "Plains Infantry".

Also from the Perry Zouaves box came three groups of French Tirailleurs Algeriens (or Turcos):

That's two groups of Turco line infantry and one of skirmishers, an NCO and a drummer from the plastics and an officer who's a Foundry metal figure.

On the Republican/Liberal side we get these cavalry also converted from Perry plastics, in this case the American Civil War Cavalry box.

 Moving on to Foundry metals I've put together these two groups of state militia:

Moving back to plastics, so far I've produced one group of regulars from the Perry ACW Infantry box:

There are plenty figures left in the box, so I'll have a few more groups of these eventually.

Finally for now, one of the nice things about Sharp Practice is that it gives you the chance to create odd-ball figures in support roles.  Medics (called Physics in the rules) can assist when officers are wounded.  My 1860s Physic is this doctor...

He's made from parts from the Perry plastic ACW infantry box.  The right arm is that of a drummer.  His improvised white flag and his medical bag are made from Green Stuff.  They don't really show in this pic but I'm quite pleased with his red waistcoat and the brass fittings on the bag.

Most of the figures need their bases flocking.  This'll happen before they see action in public.

Friday, September 14, 2018

More Arboriculture

More progress on the sprue-skeleton trees.

I've looped the bases with my usual filler and paint mix and added a base coat of GW Storm Vermin Fur:

The next step was to dry brush the trunks in successively paler (and more lightly brushed) colours (Vallejo Grey Green and Iraqi Sand).

And then I painted the bases in a couple of shades of brown.  They're still wet here:

More to follow tomorrow.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sixth Fleet

On Saturday, Richard P, Phil, Mark, Jamie and I played a game of Sixth Fleet in the side room at the Royal Hotel in Dungworth.  The idea was to generate ideas for games at Crisis Point in the Spring of 2019.

We played scenario 13 - The Invasion of Western Europe.  The sides were as follows:

US Allies:
United Kingdom

No French or Greeks! The terms “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” and “taramasalata-eating surrender monkeys” were heard.

Soviet Allies:

As we were playing with “moderate” level preparedness there were two US carrier battlegroups. The Nimitz group was at Malta while the Kennedy group was cruising off Minorca.  The Soviets put their free-set-up group (which includes the aircraft carrier Minsk and the cruiser Kirov) off Cyprus whilst the majority of their submarine force was in the central Mediterranean.

The game began with Syrian and Israeli aircraft clashing in the skies over Lebanon. Soviet naval infantry from the amphibious assault ship Vilkov moved into Beirut.  At about the same time the Soviet submarine Bytosh landed Naval Spetsnaz at Homs in Libya.

Soviet aircraft attacked Istanbul and sank the Turkish destroyers Adatepe and Anitepe.  HMS Amazon was sunk in Limassol harbour and shortly afterwards the British nuclear submarine HMS Torbay was also lost.

American anti-submarine operations were successful in sinking the Soviet submarine Shuya in the Atlantic.

In the afternoon, Soviet aircraft transmitted the Balkans to sink the US task force at Maddalena as well as the US destroyer Comte de Grasse.

The Americans did get some revenge, though, damaging several Soviet subs.

Fierce fighting in the eastern Mediterranean saw both Israeli and Syrian naval assets significantly diminished.

Night on the first day saw further very effective attacks of US shipping by the massive Crimean air fleets.  In response the Nimitz air wing bombed Algiers damaging several aircraft on the ground.

Day Two saw American paratroopers land at Oran in Algeria.  In addition, American forces moved to garrison Malta to ward off Soviet threats to the island nation.

Israel launched an attack on Lebanon landing paratroopers in and around Beirut to oppose the Soviet invasion.

The Soviets now launched a massive attack of Istanbul with two regiments of airborne troops.

NATO submarine forces attacked their Soviet opposite numbers with little effect.  Soviet and Syrian naval forces attacked Haifa sinking several Israeli missile boats.

In the afternoon the US career groups began anti-submarine operations sinking the Tyumen and the Drabov in the central Med.

The night of day two continuing ASW operations.  The US and Turkish navies managed to sink the Perm, Ivdel, and Lipitsy.  In addition, aircraft from USS Kennedy sank almost the entire Libyan navy, although a single Libyan missile did manage to penetrate the American defences and sink the destroyer USS Cushing.

Soviet forces sank the Turkish sub Atilay and several missile boats.

On day three the Americans landed airborne troops at Homs and Tobruq in Libya whilst the Soviets reinforced their forces in Istanbul.

So what does all this mean for our games at Crisis Point in spring 2019?

Anyone wanting to do land combat can choose from:

US forces against Algerians around Oran
US troops against Libyans at Tobruq
US forces against Libyans and Soviet Spetsnaz at Homs
Israelis against Soviet Naval Infantry in Beirut with various local factions and the Lebanese army involved potentially on either side
Soviet and Turkish forces fighting for control of Istanbul.

Air warfare fans could have great fun with the clashes between the Israeli air force and its Syrian and Soviet counterparts.  There’s also plenty of scope for fighting between US Navy F-14s and just about anyone!

The question, then, is who’s inspired to put on a game based on this?

Friday, September 7, 2018

A little experimental arboriculture

I've made trees before now using the twisted-wire-skeleton method demonstrated by Mel the Terrain Tutor but I'm out of suitable wire at the moment so I thought I'd try an alternative method.

Years (nay decades) ago I remember one of the Blue Peter presenters (probably John Noakes; it always turns out to have been John Noakes) making intricate models of winter trees by manipulating and welding together rods of semi-molten glass.  It occurred to me that I could do something similar.

After half an hour with some plastic sprue, liquid polystyrene cement and a candle I had:

I've cemented each tree skeleton to a piece of thick plasticard and then glued the plasticard to a larger cardboard base.

After they'd had a chance to set, I started applying Green Stuff bark to the trunk of one of them:

Not a very clear picture but I think it will look OK when it's painted.  I've only bothered with texturing the lower parts.  The upper branches will be covered by foliage.

The next stage will be to paint and then attach the foliage.  Of which more later.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Ferrocarril de Veracruz

On Monday, Jamie and I had our first proper game of Sharp Practice 2 using my developing Maximilian Adventure forces.  I designed a scenario based on Liberal guerrillas raiding a railway construction camp to steal the workers' tools and burn their tents.

The Liberal force was set up to use all of the figures I currently have available.  This gave me a group of cavalry, two of skirmishers, and one of line infantry.  All were armed with rifled muskets with exception of the cavalry who have lances.

The French/Conservative detachment had two units of Turcos (Tirailleurs Algeriens) as line infantry and one as skirmish troops, and two units of contra-guerrillas.

The table was fairly simple with a few scattered trees and a workers camp (Renedra tents and a Warbases wagon) near the middle. I included a wandering dog and a grazing horse as at least one of the possible random events involves rampaging animals (if any are nearby).  For simplicity, I treated the woods as blocking line of sight and being bad going for movement purposes.  The camp didn't affect movement of line of sight.

The round, green tent at the centre of the camp acted as a secondary deployment point for the Liberals, who are already rampaging through the camp at the start of the action.  The main deployment points for the two sides were at opposite ends of the table.

The action began with my contra-guerrillas deploying in line, screened by the Turco skirmishers.

Jamie's Liberals initially had one unit of skirmishers in the camp and pretty soon they had a tent alight.

Meanwhile, the French started to arrive in numbers.  An open column of Turcos arrived on the right of the Contra-Guerilla line...

But the Liberals, it emerged, had cavalry and a small group of regulars!

The cavalry moved over to the left.  They would have to move through woods to attack the French but still they posed a threat.

As more and more tents were fired, the Contra-guerillas maintained a wicked fire at the guerrilla skirmishers in the camp.  Kills and Shock were beginning to mount up on the Liberals.

Knowing that enemy cavalry had disappeared behind the trees to their front, the Turcos formed square.

By now the Liberals had fired the last of the workers' tents but Shock was beginning to build up.  One group fled leaving their wounded officer (the man known by the nom-de-guerre of El Mosquito) lying on the field.

Soon guerrillas and regulars were routed.

Jamie chose to turn his cavalry around and extract them safely with the rest of his force...

... leaving the French in control of the field.

Monday, August 20, 2018

More Mexicans

I couldn't get to The Other Partizan this weekend as I was required for DIY duties.  However, gaming mate Tom managed attend and has kindly picked up a couple of packs of Foundry 28mm Mexican infantry for me.

This will give me another two groups for my developing Liberal army and neatly saves me a few quid on postage (and the packs are cheaper at shows than they are mail order).  Thanks Tom!

I'm tempted to paint these guys in red jackets as state militia.  That'll mean I can field a mix of smoothbore and rifled muskets in my force.  I'll also have a red-and-white-uniformed soldiers on both sides.  Plenty of scope for in-game confusion!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Village Module

Last night I finished a small built-up area that may see use in next year's Cold War Commanders' Normandy games.

The buildings are mostly resin but I'm not sure by which manufacturers.  The exception is the building with the blue shutters.  That's a white metal model by Irregular.

Walls are simply strips of cardboard.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

On the workbench - Mexican Cavalry

My Maximilian Adventure project continues to advance.  Currently in production is a group of Republican/Liberal regular cavalry:

They are pretty simply converted from Perry plastic ACW cavalry.  They require the kepi building up higher and the addition of a cloth cover with a neck curtain.  Both are from Green Stuff.

Mexican cavalry at the time seem to have been mostly lance-armed.  I'm using all three standard poles from the Perry box but I've also added a spear (and hand) from one of the Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors boxes.  I like the way you can mix and match bits from other boxes of plastic figures.

Although there are only seven shown in the photo above, I'm actually making nine; a standard Sharp Practice unit of eight plus an extra figure to act as Leader.  This is a lot of 28mm figures to paint in one go and you'll see that in an effort to retain my sanity I've got a mixture with some still to be converted whilst others are nearly completely painted.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Near Tlaliscoya, March 1862

So I've been wanting to have another go at Sharp Practice since watching the latest Let's Play video from Beasts of War and I rather fancied seeing if I could run a game using the few 1860s Mexican figures I have so far.

Now, I only have two units of eight Contra-guerillas, twelve Republican guerrillas, and a few assorted Leaders.  Could I possibly make a working scenario out of so few figures?

I'm currently reading La Contra-Guerilla Francaise au Mexique: Souvenirs des Terres Chaudes by General de Kémtry and as far as my schoolboy French can determine, there was an interesting little action near the beginning of contra-guerilla operations that would probably work.

In March 1862 Colonel du Pin's men marched into the dense forests around Vera Cruz to attack the guerrilla stronghold of Tlaliscoya.  At one point they engages in a firefight across an apparently impassible river gorge.  For the game I posited the idea of a small portion of the main column getting separated in the dark and landing up in the same situation but on a smaller scale.

The Contras start with a unit of skirmishers (6 men and a Level 1 Leader sergeant) and part of the main column (8 man contra-guerilla infantry unit with a Level 2 Leader lieutenant).  Opposing them over the river gorge are two groups of Republican skirmishers with similar leaders.

I made the table simply by positioning four of my 2 foot squares with a gap in the middle to represent the gorge. Each side a Deployment about 12 inches back from the river.  Both sides would be able to recycle casualties as soon as they had enough to form a whole new unit.

In addition the Contras had a Moveable Deployment Point that started adjacent to the main point.  It could be moved as usual until it reached the riverbank.  After that it would take 4 command cards to move across the river.  This was to represent some other Contra stragglers finding a previously undetected crossing point.

The initial clash was between the Contra skirmishers and  unit of Republicans hiding behind some bushes.

Then another groups of guerrillas appeared...

As casualties (and shock) began to mount, the other Contra unit arrived, led by the brave Lieutenant Lebrun.

Lebrun's men unleashed a volley at the righthand unit of Republicans and inflicted some serious shock...

The next volley was even more effective, killing a couple of guerrillas and lightly wounding their officer Don Diego Gomez.  However a random event saw a pall of dense powder smoke settle across the main unit's front.

I decided to move the Contra main unit left into the space recently vacated by the skirmishers, who'd been forced to pull back.

This proved entirely the wrong thing to do.  Faced by two guerrilla units the new Contra group took enough casualties to force it to withdraw. It fell back through the skirmishers giving them more shock and causing them in turn to rout. And so it went with the two Contra units successively falling back through each other and causing further fallbacks etc etc etc...

Victory to the Republic!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Joy of Six 2018

Saturday morning was interesting.  Having got up early to make sure I had everything I needed to take to Joy of Six, I managed to fall from a chair I was standing on to investigate the contexts of a box.  As a result, I arrived at Sheffield Hallam University with a badly swollen little finger, a bloody toe-nail, a sore biceps, and assorted scrapes and bruises.  I mostly managed to forget about the damage, though, as Joy of Six was a genuine pleasure.
We, the Cold War Commanders, were putting on three games under the “Wesel-Cubed” banner.  The idea was to fight a similar action three times in three different time periods.  I’m afraid I didn’t get very many photos; I was too busy playing and talking to the punters!
Looking north-east from above Wesel, 1973
We had three five-feet-square tables each depicting the north-eastern approaches to the German town of Wesel.  In each case, a hasty attack on the town was being mounted by a Soviet Motor Rifle Regiment and in each case a British mechanised battalion with armour support was defending.

On the first table it was 1959.  Andy Taylor’s British seemed to be doing a pretty good job of defending Wesel from Richard Phillips (who was using Mark Julian’s Soviets).  Andy’s defensive efforts were aided by Richard’s ability to roll command blunders at key moments.  On this table the Soviets had T-55s and T-10 heavy tanks and they were opposed by Centurions and Conquerors.  This period saw the last hurrah of the heavy tank concept.
The outskirts of Wesel, 1959. The tanks near the green
die in the foreground are Conquerors.
High water mark of the Soviet advance in 1959; Richard P
moves his T-10s through the woods.

The centre table depicted Wesel in 1973.  Here, my Chieftains and FV432s were up against Neil McCusker’s T-62s.  Pretty much just T-62s it turned out; Neil forgot to bring the BTR-60s for his infantry to ride in so the conscripts had to go in on foot.  This didn’t cramp Neil’s style too much, though, and although T-62s died in droves, he had enough the whittle away at my meagre stock of Chieftains.  By the end of the day he was in a position to sweep around my left flank.
1CHESHIRES at Wesel, 1973.

C company advance up Route 70
Near the end in 1973; Neil's T-62s cross the stream.
Over on the final table Ian Shaw’s 1989 Soviets (with T-80s) were faced by Andy Canham’s Challengers.  This table saw another British victory with the Soviets failing to cross the stream that ran between the two forces.

The public response to the game was pleasing.  Several people mentioned that is was a good idea and there was much praise for the terrain (most of it by Richard Phillips) and the fact that it changed slightly from period to period.

As always, we didn’t get as much actual game play in as we would at a Cold War Commanders gaming weekend but that was only because there were so many interesting people to talk to.  It was particularly nice to talk to veterans who had served in the Wesel area, some of them at the times covered by our games.

Oh, and nice to chat with Neil Shuck and to meet the famous “My other mate Dave”.