Friday, November 9, 2018

The Miller Told His Tale

I spent my commute yesterday listening to the latest episode of The Miller’s Tale – a Wargaming Podcast. 
Prior to this Summer, Mike Whitaker was a fixture on the Meeples and Miniatures podcast.  I enjoyed his contributions for their dry wit and I was disappointed when Meeples host Neil Shuck announced a change of line-up that saw Mike excluded henceforth.

All is not lost, however, as Mike has now resurrected his own podcast, The Miller’s Tale.  I understand Mike lives in a converted mill, hence the title (though I suspect given Mike’s musican interests there may be a hint of Procul Harum in there too).
The latest edition has Mike giving a considered review of the Too Fat Lardies company-level WW2 game I Ain’t Been Shot Mum. As a Lardies fan who hasn’t yet played that game I was interested to hear his views. 

OK, so IABSM’s ground-scale is pretty much spot on for 1/300th scale models?  At first, I thought, “Ooh it would be interesting to have a go at these rules using my 6mm collection”.  However, it becomes apparent from the number of individual figures in a section is important and that you need to remove individual figures as casualties occur.  I’m not sure I’d want to be fielding individually based 6mm tall figures; it’s easy enough to lose 20mm figures among the undergrowth on a well-detailed table.

I agree with Mike that some degree of uncertainty for the commander is a key part of any enjoyable wargame.  His description of “chess with tanks” for a game that doesn’t have restrictions on players’ ability to command their model troops, strikes me as right on the nose.  I’m slightly concerned that IABSM way go a little too far the other way, for me, in this regard. 

I wasn’t happy with the same company’s version 1 of Sharp Practice as it seemed that an unfortunate run of card play could completely ruin a player’s day (and indeed an umpire’s scenario).  And don’t get me started on that damned annoying remember-to-count-the-ones-and-sixes mechanism for random events.  I’m a little concerned that IABSM (being a generation older than Chain of Command and SP2) may suffer from some of the same issues.

That aside, IABSM may be worth a look.  I just need to ask myself, do I want a company-level game?

At the moment I can run reinforced platoon-level games with Chain of Command or Arc of Fire.  I can run Battalion- to Brigade Level games with Tac WW2 and Brigade-plus games with Blitzkrieg Commander.  Beyond that I suppose I could use Megablitz but I’ve no great wish to go that big.

So, there is potentially a company-sized gap in the middle there but do I want to run company-a-side games?  Well certainly not if it’s going to involve investing in a new scale but if I could use 6mm…?  Maybe, but I don’t immediately feel the urge.

It was good, though, to hear a review from someone who has been playing a set of rules for some time.  I’d urge Mike to go on doing this.  If I had access to podcasting hardware I ought to think about doing something similar for Arc of Fire.

I really enjoyed the episode and, given Mike’s general focus on historical gaming, I think it’s not unlikely that The Miller’s Tale could become my favourite wargames podcast.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

Fiasco Purchases

It was Fiasco last weekend and Jamie and I had our usual visit, although this year he wasn't coming from York and I didn't end up driving him back there afterwards (MA course being over).

I was fairly restrained in my purchases.  Apart from a bottle of paint and a single Celtic warrior from a scrabble box, my only purchases were these two houses.

They're 20mm MDF; a house and a shop from a company called Dave's Wargames.

I haven't come across this guy previously but at eight quid a shot they seemed too good to pass up, particularly as I want some buildings for a forthcoming Chain of Command campaign covering the fighting for Bremen in 1945.

They don't come with instructions and I found a couple of points where I suddenly discovered I was in the process of going wrong but in no case did I end up cocking up too badly.

As you can see I've added some Green Stuff to remove those annoying lugs poking through the roof.  The next step, I think, is to add some timbering and render to make these guys look more Westphalian.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Ferrocarril de Veracruz II

Last night Chris came over and we had another go at the Sharp Practice 2 scenario I'm working on for a future Sheffield/Yorkshire Lardy Day.

Chris took on the role of Captain Jean Jandou, the French commander, while Jamie played El Zorro Gordo, the local guerrilla leader.

Since the last time we played the scenario, I've made a few changes, which I won't go through here in detail in case you get to play in a future version.

The table depicted the workers' encampment where the Veracruz-to-Mexico-City railway line is being built.  The liberal guerrillas are planning to burn the camp and steal all the construction tools (the railway workers have already fled) while the French (Turcos and Contra-Guerillas) plan to stop them.

The game began with El Zorro Grande's guerrilla group in the workers' camp and straight away burning one tent and loading the associated tools onto their mule train.

Meanwhile (foreground below) a unit of red-jacketed State militia, loyal to the Liberal cause, were making heavy weather of advancing through the uneven ground of recently cleared undergrowth the threaten the French left...

The also red-clad contra-guerillas arrived to the French right and were soon hotly engaged with the guerrilla skirmishers.  Unfortunately their commander, Lt Steinmetz, found himself barged to the ground as his men pushed forward to engage the hated enemy (below).

The contras took some serious fire but with admirable discipline they kept up controlled volleys whilst Steinmetz dusted himself down.

On their left, Capitaine Jandou and his Turcos arrived, their skirmisher group under Sergeant ben Hammim sniping at the guerrillas from the cover of a railway truck....

Jandou carefully advanced his men and then wheeled them inwards so they could subject the camp to withering cross-fire.

The fire of the two Imperialist formations was too much for the guerrilla skirmishers.  Casualties were mounting when suddenly, with a harsh cry, El Zorro Gordo fell to the ground.  He was mortally wounded!

The guerrillas made for the hills whilst Juan Burro tried his best to get his mule-train away.  With three tents burned and the mules loaded with at least some tools, the Liberals were not far off what they could call a victory.  One more tent and a successful escape would do it!

The arrival of Liberal cavalry hinted at possible victory but casualties were mounting.  Were the horsemen perhaps too late?

As the mule-train departed, the cavalry tried to ignite the nearest tent but this seemed to be beyond them. Perhaps some house proud navvy had just washed this one and re-erected to dry in the sun?  

On the Liberals' right, the State Militia, their old smoothbore muskets wavering before them as they advanced, threatened to outflank the Turcos...

And still that fourth tent wouldn't burn...

As the Contras advanced on the camp, the Turcos wheeled again and poured a fierce volley into the Liberal militia.  They staggered back under the weight of fire.  Both groups were forced to make an involuntary withdrawal, their formation was broken and the last opponents of Liberal Force Morale were lost.  The militia had not even fired their muskets!

The result was a clear victory for Chris and the Imperialists.  The unlucky loss of El Zorro Gordo was crucial.  Without his presence Jamie had no way to rally off accumulated shock and he lost the ability to move swiftly from tent to tent as he had done in the previous play-test.

I'm considering a few more changes to the scenario.  In particular I'd like to give the Imperialist player some more interesting tactical choices.  More on this when I've cogitated on the matter.

Arctic Strike - Grimsby 2018

Last weekend I made the trip to Grimsby Wargames Club's excellent premises to play a weekend of Cold War Commander.  In fact, as I had some stuff I wanted to do in Sheffield in the evenings, I ade the trip there and back three times.  And I only got lost once!

The Cold War Commanders events are, for me, mostly about the craic as our Irish friends would have it.  I far prefer CWC as a smaller game that we playing in these big, multi-player events but the guys are a great bunch and it's always great to catch up with them.

Here are some pics.

Upstairs - after set-up Friday night

Downstairs - after set-up Friday night
Alan Millicheap's Soviet airborne after landing by parachute.
The red dice mark suppressed units!
More Soviet airborne

US 9th High Tech Light Division guard one of the
three airfields in the game
More US 9th (Mark Fry's toys)

A 9th Light Div Stinger near the roadworks

Game in progress - upstairs

NATO off table artillery support.  The turrets a reminders of
the presence of naval gunfire support
Norwegian Home Guard

More Norwegians in defence
And that's it!  I mostly took videos this year and I'm going to try and stitch them together into something that can go on Youtube eventually.

Thanks are due to the Grimsby club for organising, to all the guys for a most friendly weekend, and especially to Richard Phillips for his superb organisation and for producing most of the terrain!

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.