Monday, July 30, 2012

New Tanks

There's a flea market near my work on a Monday and I always check a the stalls for useful stuff.  This time I go lucky and found a guy selling some pre-painted tanks for a fiver each.  I think they're from the  Altaya part-work available a couple of years back.  I could have got a Tiger and a Jagdpanther too but I already have two Altaya Tigers and a Matchbox Jagdpanther.  I don't think I'd use more of either in a skirmish game.

So, on the left we have a T-34/76 (not sure which exact model) and on the right an M4A3 Sherman. 

They strike me as perfectly acceptable wargames models and I'm pleased I don't have to paint them.  I may dry-brush a little dust onto them later.  The T-34 will go towards the number I'll need if I ever run Grossdeutschland at Kursk (ten I think) whilst the M4A3 is just potentially useful one day.

This final pic shows the new T-34 alongside one of my existing Dragon models.  The Dragons are clearly more finely modelled and the new one has a suspicious overhang on the front track guards but over all I can live with the differences.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Scenario - Action on the Coa, July 1810

This is a scenario I wrote some years ago and thought I'd share.  It's a Peninsular War skirmish but I ran it with the twentieth century rules Arc of Fire using the Colonial period amendments on the AoF site.  The game worked OK except for the failure of a French dragoon charge against disordered infantry which I adjudicated wrongly.  I were to do it again I think I'd use Sharp Practice but presented here are the AoF stats and player briefings.

The player briefings divide the forces up into differently sized chunks to allow for players with different arrival times and departure times.  If you reuse the scenario you should feel free to change the balance of these.

British Player 1 Briefing

Near the River Coa, Portugal, early morning 25th July 1810
Yesterday the French attacked General Crauford’s army near the fortified town of Almeida.  Crauford withdrew the Light Division across the steeply-banked and fast-flowing River Coa but not before a brief, fierce action that left hundreds dead on both sides.
Most of the British and Portuguese troops retreated across the only bridge for miles around but your force was cut off by the rapid French advance.  From a hidden vantage point among the rough surrounding hills you were able to see Crauford’s men give the French a bloody nose when they tried to pursue across the bridge.
Your force consists of a dozen men of the South Essex Regiment and a few Brunswicker stragglers you picked up during the night.  The South Essex are stout-hearted lads but you have doubts about the reliability of the Germans.
South Essex Regiment patrol, TAC 5

Sergeant Darwin
11 Privates

Black Brunswickers,  TAC 7

Sergeant Haeckel
5 Privates
British Player 2 Briefing

Near the River Coa, Portugal, early morning 25th July 1810

Yesterday the French attacked General Crauford’s army near the fortified town of Almeida.  Crauford withdrew the Light Division across the steeply-banked and fast-flowing River Coa but not before a brief, fierce action that left hundreds dead on both sides.
The army is now withdrawing further into Portugal.  Your four-man patrol of Riflemen is one of those detailed to patrol the riverbank as part of the rearguard.  The patrol is ordered not to attempt a crossing of the River Coa. They may engage enemy forces across the river at their discretion.
95th Rifles patrol, TAC 4 (self-activating unit)

4 Riflemen
The 95th were trained to operate independently so this unit may change mode even though it has no leader.

French Player 1 Briefing

Near the River Coa, Portugal, early morning 25th July 1810
Yesterday, Marshall Ney’s army attacked a small British-Portuguese force near the enemy-fortified town of Almeida.  The enemy were swiftly pushed back across the steeply banked and swift-flowing river Coa but Ney’s forces took heavy casualties when they tried to carry the pursuit across the only nearby river bridge.
The army is now preparing to invest Almeida but must first clear the surrounding hills of enemy stragglers.  A Voltigeur company sends patrols into the rough hilly terrain.  
Voltigeurs,  TAC 6

Lieutenant Lamarck
7 Voltigeurs
The patrol’s hornist is a natural leader; he will take over if Lt Lamarck is killed.
At the same time a patrol of Grenadiers sets out to forage for food for their unit.
Grenadiers,  TAC 7

Sergeant Pasteur
9 Grenadiers
French Player 2 Briefing

Near the River Coa, Portugal, early morning 25th July 1810
Yesterday, Marshall Ney’s army attacked a small British-Portuguese force near the enemy-fortified town of Almeida.  The enemy were swiftly pushed back across the steeply banked and swift-flowing river Coa but Ney’s forces took heavy casualties when they tried to carry the pursuit across the only nearby river bridge.
The army is now preparing to invest Almeida but must first clear the surrounding hills of enemy stragglers.  Among the French army are troops of the small Duchy of Nassau.  Some of your men were badly wounded in yesterday’s fighting.  A French ambulance is available to return them to the camp.  Sergeant de Vries knows where the wounded can be found and will direct the ambulance to the nearest point from which the wounded can be recovered. 
Nassauers,  TAC 7

Sergeant De Vries
5 Grenadiers
3 Fusiliers
Nassauer Wounded,  TAC 8

2 Casualties

The casualties are immobile without assistance.  Accompanied by an unwounded figure they move on their first card of the turn only.
The Nassauer force may be split any way the player wishes between troops guarding the wounded and troops leading the rescue party.  Sergeant De Vries must accompany the rescue party.  
Any troops left with the wounded have no leader and cannot change mode unless forced to do so by a Morale result.  The may not start in Advance Mode.
French Light Ambulance, TAC 8

French Player 3 Briefing

Near the River Coa, Portugal, early morning 25th July 1810
Yesterday, Marshall Ney’s army attacked a small British-Portuguese force near the enemy-fortified town of Almeida.  The enemy were swiftly pushed back across the steeply banked and swift-flowing river Coa but Ney’s forces took heavy casualties when they tried to carry the pursuit across the only nearby river bridge.
The army is now preparing to invest Almeida but must first clear the surrounding hills of enemy stragglers.  Various units send patrols into the rough hilly terrain.  
15eme Dragons de Ligne patrol,  TAC 6

Carbines, swords
Note:  French light cavalry units were often short of firearms - only the figures actually shown carrying carbines are so armed in this game.

I ran the game on a 6'x4' (180cm x 120cm) table.  The terrain should feature the river along one side (I had it along part of one of the long edges), a bridge and a road crossing it, and lots of hills which should be bad going for infantry and impassible to cavalry.  I also added cluster of houses to give the Grenadiers something to loot.

Fighting the Action
I didn't set a duration for the game; we just played on until we reached an obvious conclusion.  The briefings are such that all players should be able to work out if they have "won" at the and of the game. 

I used all plastic models - Zvezda Voltigeurs, Italieri Dragoons, a HaT light ambulance and various Airfix and Airfix conversions for the rest.  Obviously you should tweak to fit what you have available.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

SOBH Warbands - The Samurai

These guys have appeared before but I'm quite pleased with these photographs so I thought I'd share them here.

These guys were painted many years ago by Alan Slater.  They will also serve as Vormaini pirates, in which guise I believe they'll be appearing in Issue 14 of Rule One Magazine.  As usual you can click to embiggen.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Baccus Gaming Day, Sheffield

Sunday saw the Baccus Gaming Day event at The Workstation; a chance to see some excellent 6mm scale games and, or me, a chance to have a go at Polemos: Great Northern War.  Polemos: GNW is a set of rules I've owned for a while but really struggled to get my head around.   Author Nick Dorrell was there with a Swedish friend (Per) who had done a marvellous job on the armies and terrain for Fraustadt, 1706.

There was also a very nice game depicting the battle of Vimiero that used small infantry bases that could be used to form columns or squares or slotted into line movement trays with skirmishers attached.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Recon at Cosnes; Goblins in the Woods

This month we managed to get in a Saturday Afternoon Wargame (TM) at Stately Crawley Manor.  In fact we got in two!

Carl and I played Recon at Cosnes, the first scenario in Scott Fisher and Nathan Forney's Skirmish Campaigns book Rommel's Route to Verdun.  Meanwhile Jamie and George played a Lord of the Rings skirmish scenario designed by Jamie and using the Games Workshop rules.

Recon at Cosnes is a small scenario; only eight turns on a 3'x2' table using 20mm figures.  My Frenchies had one infantry squad whilst Carl had two small recon teams, one of them led by Erwin Rommel (the future Desert Fox).

The battlefield - top left, the field through which Rommel will advance.
Top right, the woods through which Lt Kirl will advance.
Middle left, the hill with oat bundles behind which shelter elements of
the French 101st Infantry Regiment.
The game play we pretty fast moving and as a result I didn't take very many photos.  We started at one o'clock with a brief run through of the rules and by three we were finished!

Lt Rommel's reconnaissance team advances though the ripening crops.
I'd chosen to deploy the French behind my newly completed oat bundles because the Variable Attachments section of the scenario allowed me to do so and because I thought it would be a shame not to use them.

Carl's approach was to advance astride the road.  As I'd deployed all of my troops on the hill to the east,  Lt Rommel was walking straight at twice his number of French infantry.  

The French - that marker on the right is one of the locations from which the
Germans could have observed the village of Bleid.
Carl could probably have won the game if he had left Rommel to his fate and sent Lt Kirn to observe the village from the viewpoint at the far end of "his" woods.  However, perhaps concerned to ensure that the future hero didn't bite the dust prematurely, Kirn emerged from the woods and began to maneuver towards the French.
Rommel's men (left) have spread out and are taking casualties.  Meanwhile, in the
background, Lt Kirn's men are emerging from the woods.
I reminded Carl of the need to move Kirn towards the observation point but moments later rolled the volley of fire from the French that was to prove decisive.  Kirn and two of his men died instantly whilst three more were badly injured.

Lt Kirn's patrol is hit by a wickedly accurate volley of fire from the French.
Carl was no longer able to achieve his victory conditions and I began to withdraw off table to the east. Sadly, a complete victory was snatched from me when my squad leader and a couple of men fell dead to the last straggling volley from the Germans.

We ended up with a 12:3 victory points score in favour of the French.  This gives the French two attachments credits to spend on the forces for the next scenario Contact at Hill 325.

Meanwhile, Jamie and George had been playing a scenario in which George's Dwarves were split into two groups.  Balin and some guards had to hold out in some rubble against a goblin attack reinforced by a cave troll, whilst a bunch a Dwarf rangers raced to reinforce them.

I didn't get many pics of that game but here they are:
Somewhere in the rubble Balin's about to meet a bloody fate...

... while the Dwarven Rangers are delayed in the dense woods.

The final moments of Balin.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

WIP: Oat bundles part 2

I've finished sculpting the oat bundles for Saturdays Arc of Fire game and I've given them a quick base coat.

Another thing I needed for the game was a squad of French infantry.  I'd originally planned to use some  WW1 Belgian infantry I picked up on a bring and buy years ago but then I remembered the 5th New York Zouaves.  These are the converted Airfix Foreign Legion types I'd failed to sell at Gauntlet.

A quick repaint gave me the figures I needed:

Most of the figures are wearing blue cloth covers on their kepis. Their coats are now dark blue and they're wearing black anklets rather than white.  I've added rank stripes to the corporal (far right) and left his kepi uncovered to help distinguish him.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SOBH Warbands - The Dwarves

I needed some pics of SOBH warbands to illustrate and article I've written for Rule One Magazine so I had a quick photo session on the garden steps.  Having done so I thought I'd share some pics of the Dwarves.

Three on the left by Alan Slater, two on the right by yours truly.  I rebased
them all to give the feel of a coherent warband.

Mostali Musketeer 1

Mostali Musketeer 2

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

WIP: Oat Bundles

This weekend's Arc of Fire game requires eight "oat bundles" in a field on one side of the battlefield.  I've taken this to mean bundled together sheaves of harvested crops.  In the absence of anyone making such in 20mm scale I decided to make my own.

Mark 2 oat bundle on the left, Mark 1 on the right. Oat bundle skeletons behind.
I started off by gluing short lengths of dowel to a 2p coin and building up some groundwork around the dowel with my usual tile-adhesive-and-poster-paint gloop.  I then added greenstuff to the sides and scratched in stems with a craft knife.  The tops are more greenstuff stabbed with a wooden skewer to give the texture of the grain.  Finally I added an incised line around the waist of each bundle to represent where the bundle is tied off.

I've decided the multiple heads of grain on Mark 2 (made from balls of green stuff) work better and from Mark 3 onwards I'm building in a cinched "waist" from the start.

Painted photos later.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I May Have a Problem

Tidying up the games room I started to think about the unfinished projects I have.   I think there may be too many.  Here's a brief (and I suspect incomplete) precis of the current position.

Sharp Practice
I've recently taken the plunge and started reading Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels and really want to try some Peninsula War skirmishes using Sharp Practice.  I've painted some suitable (20mm plastic) figures but need more.  I'm toying with the idea of writing a series of scenarios, each inspired by the events in one of the novels.  

Cold War Commander
I’m working on a Swedish Armoured Brigade and a Finnish battle-group for next year’s Big Game.  I also have George Ashmore’s Brits to rebase so he can use them in the game.

Blitzkrieg Commander / Tac WW2
I like both games and don’t propose to choose one over the other.  What I do want to do, though, is get all my 6mm WW2 stuff based up to the same basing convention I’m using for CWC.  There are also a couple of dozen models still to paint.  Oh, and about fifty WW2 aircraft need magnets attaching to work with my new flight stands.

Axles and Alloys 
I’ve long fancied having a go at this Car Wars type system but have never got round to completing the models.  I need more bits of random weaponry to stick on them.

Song of Blades and Heroes
Not a project as such but an inspiration to get my (relatively few) unpainted 28mm fantasy figures completed.  Also if I do more of this on a Lost World Adventures theme I could usefully paint up my Wild West types to support the Latin American vibe I’ve been using of late.

Border Reivers
The two Hordes of the Things armies are complete except that I haven’t completed the Peel Tower that’s supposed to be the stronghold for the Warden’s Men.

Rommel’s Route to Verdun
I can’t remember why I bought this book from Skirmish Campaigns but it needs relatively few figures and would make a nice focus for a small, 20mm WW1 skirmish collection.  I picked up some Airfix Germans at Gauntlet and will shortly spend some time getting enough painted to do the first scenario.  As things stand I might use Belgians to stand in as French infantry to start with.

25mm Impetus
Earlier this year I rebased my old 25/28mm Wars of the Roses figures on Impetus bases.  Strictly speaking I need another mounted or dismounted men-at-arms unit to enable me to follow the Basic Impetus army lists correctly.  Another issue is that I have a somewhat peculiar mix of retinues.  The collection was originally structured to complement John Ansari’s so I need to add some of the more ubiquitous nobles.  I’ve bought a box of the Perry infantry and so far they have contributed a unit of billmen in Somerset’s livery.  I need to finish the Perry’s and use a small gun and mantlet to make another artillery unit.

I also have an unused 25mm Late Swiss DBA army that I bought from Steve Briddon when he emigrated to America.  I need to sort out rebasing it for Impetus. After that I suppose I’d want to think about Burgundians to oppose it.

6mm Impetus
I’ve been basing up various scraps of ancient, medieval and renaissance 6mm lead on 60mm wide bases with a view towards using them for Basic Impetus, largely inspired by some superb 6mm modelling on a game I saw at Triples a couple of years ago.  I really need to decide where I’m going with this.

20mm Kampfgruppe Odsenzods
This is an attempt to put some structure behind my distinctly incoherent collection of 20mm late war German kit.  I have a few kits to complete and some Wargames Supply Dump figures to paint but I’m not doing any Arc of Fire at the moment so this is on the back burner.  Thinking about it I also have some Museum Miniatures buildings to complete to go with these guys.

20mm Eighth Army
I have a load of Shellhole Scenics Indian troops who need finishing off.  What I’ll then do with them I don’t know.  I also have a couple of Hasegawa Grants and Matchbox Stuarts that I originally painted green to use in an Operation Sealion 1942 alternative history campaign.  They would be more useful in desert colours.

Other 20mm World War 2 Stuff
I have various bits of half-built WW2 stuff.  I’m in the process of finishing a third A34 Comet to give me an 11th Armoured Division tank platoon for 1945 games.  Not sure where I’ll go after that.

The Bayeux Tapestry Armies
A long-held aspiration is to have HOTT armies for Hastings modelled on the Tapestry – thus coloured red green and cream and having figures in a range of different sizes.  This is on hold whilst I look for suitably crude-looking 25mm figures.

The biggest hole in my collection of Gloranthan HOTT armies is the lack of a Lunar Empire force.    I could knock something together if I wanted to but I’d rather wait until the right figures come along at the right price.

My other Glorantha-HOTT ambition is to complete an all Morokanth army.  At the moment my Morokanth are about half of a Praxian alliance force.  The plan is to make sure there are no two identical figures in the army.  I need to convert a few more Morokanth and to get hold of some naked caveman types to use as herdmen.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Route 66

Saturday morning to Chester and the Deeside Defenders' Gauntlet gaming convention.  I say gaming convention because it's definitely got the emphasis on playing rather than shopping.

Jamie and I played in Route 66, Will McNally and Pete Jones's excellent Vietnam War game in which our heroes were tasked with transporting a convoy of supplies through hostile territory to a US firebase.

Route 66 - the red strips are 'blinds'; which may or may
not represent enemy activity.
Will and Pete used a fairly simple set of rules and kept all of the calculation work to themselves making it easy for the the players to concentrate on fighting the battle rather than playing the rules.

The long table was divided in two by a river.  On the nearside of the river was a village with we needed to pass through as it taking the trucks off road was likely to lead to them bogging down.  We decided to send our two M113 ACAVs into a flanking position so they could provide fire support whilst a squad of our infantry dismounted to attack frontally.

Unfortunately, the first blind that wasn't a blank turned out to be a trap.  An unlucky die roll meant that one of our precious two ACAVs hit a mine and was destroyed!  A significant dent in our firepower at an early stage of the game! 

The second M113 ACAV (centre) burns before we even start
to assault the village.
To the left of the ACAV an enemy MG and a squad of VC showed up and we were forced to debus two more of our six squads to engage them.

An NVA machine gun threatens the convoy's left flank.
We dealt with the enemy whilst a medevac helicopter was inbound to pick up the wounded from the knocked-out ACAV.
Suspiciously well-armed for a medevac but never mind.
Meanwhile, the lead squad successfully cleared the village despite it being full of VC.

The Brown Water Navy were a useful addition to our firepower.

Richard Baber and Rob Connolly wonder what's for lunch.

With the village taken to convoy pushed on towards the bridge.

Roofs restored now the enemy are destroyed, Will's hooches are
surprisingly effective for such simple cardboard and crepe paper constructions.
As the convoy reached the river a Loach overhead reported enemy activity in the forest and the Medevac helicopter suffered incoming small-arms fire and went down!

That's the downed Huey in the cloud of smoke by the river!
As the first elements of the convoy cross the bridge, the lead squad again
dismounts to rescue the crew and wounded from the downed Huey.

At this point Jamie was put in charge of the troops manning the Firebase and the cry of 'Sappers!' went up as the enemy launched a major assault.

I raced the one remaining M113 ACAV towards the camp gate thinking the vehicle's firepower could probably swing the battle our way.  Sadly, I hadn't accounted for the enemy's sole RPG-7 and my own ability to throw the worst possible score on a d10 at the crucial moment.  Easy Rider, having made it literally right to the wire, was knocked out by the incoming grenade.

Pete's pipe-cleaner RPG-in-flight zooms past the camp
perimeter defences to strike Easy Rider. 
Fortunately, though, we managed to fight off the enemy assault as the convoy escorts arrived just in time to shore up the camp's defences.

Route 66 was great fun and thanks are due to Pete and Will for putting on a great looking game and to Rob and Richard for having our backs when the gooks were all over us.  

I believe Sunday was to be Hue!  Jamie and I were sad that we couldn't be there.

Friday Evening in the Lost Canyon

We members of Bradfield Dungworth Primary School's Parents and Friends Association cleverly chose  to hold our summer barbecue on the day the Environment Agency issued Flood Warnings to most of England because of the heavy rain.  Fortunately, I'd been volunteered into running a wargame for the kids so I'd be indoors all evening, yay!

A lost canyon, somewhere in Oaxaca Province, Mexico.
We'd made some changes to our plan following last week's playtest.

We used four cards to determine the order of play:

"Explorers" - all explorer parties (including the Mexicans guarding the riverboat) get to act.

"Troglodytes" - all troglodyte units including the hideous unknowable blasphemy get to act.

"Wild Thing" - the umpires dice to see what kind of wild animal or natural threat is activated and all existing animals get to act.

"Siesta" - anyone stuck in quicksand must roll to see if they are sucked under then the turn ends and the deck is reshuffled.  Note if the Siesta card comes out first it is ignored for this turn.

We also made the table smaller; about 4'x3', so everyone got into action quicker and explorers had a better chance of reaching safety in the time available.

Don Luis HabaƱero and the crew man the barricades.
Behind you!  Millicent Threatener fails to notice the Hideous Unknowable
Blasphemy behind her as Troglodytes consider how to eat her father's mule.  

Later - the HUB prepares to dismember the mule.

Dinosaurs?  They must have survived here, cut off for millions of years!
Meanwhile (left of shot), Millicent, having avoided the HUB has stumbled
into a patch of quicksand.  

The end.  Don Luis stands guard, having rescued Millicent Threatener from
the quicksand.  She is the only known survivor of her father's doomed
expedition, though no-one is sure what happened to Idaho James....

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Back From Gauntlet

Jamie and I played in Will and Pete's excellent Route 66 Vietnam war game at Gauntlet.  So that was two multi-player games in 24 hours! Good to see Richard and Rob and all the Deeside Defenders gang.

Details and pics soon.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I like card-driven mechanisms for command control and I've bolted one on to Song of Blades and Heroes for this Friday's multi-player game but I was concerned that it wasn't fast enough having one card per player.
Troglodytes threaten the crew of the Susanna Salcita. 
Then, by coincidence I downloaded the latest copy of the Meeples and Miniatures podcast to find Neil and Co talking about Muskets and Tomahawks and how it uses cards but with a given card triggering the activation of all units of a particular type (e.g. all irregulars).

Our game will have three Troglodyte players, three Explorers and three Umpires!  This gives us an ideal opportunity to run with just four cards:

Explorers - all of the Explorer players get to activate their figures

Troglodytes - all of the Troglodyte players get to activate their figures

Wild Thing - a new animal enters or a figure encounters a patch of quicksand or gets lost.  Any existing animals are activated and anyone trapped in quicksand rolls to see if they drown.

Siesta - the turn ends (unless this card comes up first in which case it is ignored).

I'm hoping this approach (and playing with a smaller table than the playtest) will allow us to get through the game in the time available.