Saturday, October 30, 2021

Panzerkampfwagen VIII Maus

One of the scenarios I'm tempted to have a go at in the near future is on Bob Mackenzie's website. Battle for Zossen is the last of Bob's Great Patriotic War scenarios. The action takes place just after the Soviet forces have overrun the German OKW and OKH command headquarters at Wünsdorf before pressing on to try and capture the bridges over the Notte Kanal at Zossen.

Right next door to Wünsdorf was the Kummersdorf armour testing ground where the Wehrmacht tested captured allied tanks but also where the trials of many new German vehicles took place. It is understood that one of the two Maus prototypes was sent from Kummersdorf to help defend the Wünsdorf command complex but that it never got into action. Bob uses this to justify including a Maus in his Zossen scenario.

I'm keen to give Zossen a try and originally planned to follow Bob's advice: If you don't have a Maus, use a King Tiger. But then I thought, "Sod it - I'm gonna build me a Maus!"

My Maus is built from various grades of cardboard and plastic rod and has a 128mm gun barrel from a length of paper clip. The gun mantlet and roof hatches are from Green Stuff. Obviously the base still needs flocking.

It's a fairly crude job done over a couple of evenings but it'll do - I'm not going to be fielding these things often or any any quantity after all!

Finally, here's a pic with a T-34/85 to give some idea of the scale of this beast!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Ebor Lard 2021

Yesterday I drove up to Green Hammerton in North Yorkshire for my second (and the think the third) Ebor Lard celebration of all things Too Fat Lardies. A great selection of games was on offer and it's was wonderful to get together and talk games without having to rely upon a Zoom link.

In the morning I was honoured to play in Richard Clarke's playtest of the rules to appear in Infamy Infamy book 2. Bob Connor and I ran a Roman force against Carthaginians commanded by Ned Willett and Mark Pullan.

Bob commanded the Hastati

I commanded the velites - some of them seen
here menaced by Numidian horse 

Nice architecture

The Carthaginians were accompanied by Fat Nicholas the elephant; a striking force of extraordinary magnitude.

I did my best to weaken him with my skirmishers but even so he crashed into Bob's legionaries with considerable force and disrupted their formation somewhat.

In then end, I think the Romans scraped a victory in a damned-close-run little action. It was excellently run by Richard despite what sounded like a hangover of biblical proportions!

I took a few pictures of other games including John Elwen's What A Mecha:

Charley Walker's Kiss Me Hardy:

Jeremy (Virtual Lard) Short put on a game using Shattered Shields, a Lard-inspired fantasy set:

Our host John Savage ran another of his beautiful Infamy Infamy games, this time a winter action between Romans and Britons:

Simon Walker ran a very nice looking Sharp Practice game set during the Maori Wars:

In the afternoon I had my first ever game of Dux Britanniarum, albeit in the form of a Samurai variant called Seven Spears. This was most engagingly run by Malcolm Bowe. As far as I know he didn't have a hangover.

This time Ned and I were on the same side and we were opposed by Paul Pettit and Jamie Tattersall. I suspect I contributed to our defeat as I couldn't hear most of the rules and scenario explanations due to the background noise and my failing hearing. Great fun though!

That was my first Lard event as a player only. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I'm definitely looking forward to running Cortina at Matamoros at Steel Lard next month.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

La Rosa Amarilla

I'll be running my Maximilian Adventure Sharp Practice game "Cortina at Matamoros" at this year's Steel Lard event in November. As the Hotel La Rosa Amarilla plays an important part in the scenario, I thought it might be fun to add some interior detail.

The hotel is a building I bought from the bring and buy at Vapnartak a couple of years ago. So far I've upgraded the sign on the roof.

Jamie has a few tables and chairs left over from his Pulp Alley game set in the Andreivian State Museum but on their own they looked a bit lost in the interior so I've started building some more detail. Nothing very sophisticated but last night I managed to produce a table and a bar.

The bar is from various scrap materials with a painted cocktail stick brass rail. The jar on the bar (the jar on the bar has the pellet with the poison) is one of many I've made; they're a good way to use up spare Green Stuff.

The card table is from off-cuts of plastic card:

The tequila glasses are from fine plastic rod and the cards themselves are just thick paper.

I have some beds part way through construction on the workbench.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Prussians finished

I've mentioned here previously that Richard Phillips and I are planning on playing some Sharp Practice based on the march to Riga by Macdonald's X Corps during Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812.

The plan all along has been to make this a low impact, low cost project. We should be able to put together base forces with a single box of plastic infantry and then use our existing generic stuff like scenery, wagons etc.

I've now managed to complete my base force:

It consists of five groups of musketeers from 7th Infantry Regiment (2nd West Prussian). Four of the groups are in line formation and one is organised as skirmishers.

The line troops are all built straight out of the box (of Perry Miniatures Prussian Infantry) as is the officer in command:

The NCO seen in the background above is converted from the standard bearer in the Perry box. You don't need standard bearers in Sharp Practice but I did need an additional Leader. His left arm was moulded in place and was holding the base of the flagpole. With a bit of plastic rod and green stuff I was able to make it look like he's holding a wine bottle instead. The right arm was repositioned and gained an open hand from the spares box into which I glued a white metal musket from the same source.

The skirmishers involved more conversion work.

The box comes with volunteer jaegers but my understanding is that these units were added to the Prussian order of battle from the 1813 campaign. The most realistic source of skirmish troops in the games I envisage would be from the third rank of the same infantry battalion as the musketeers.

I've therefore given my skirmishers covered shakos rather than forage caps. I've also converted some of the jaeger figures into musketeers by sculpting rolled greatcoats from green stuff. 

All of the Perry jaegers are in exactly the same, rather distinctive pose. I've tried to disguise that by swapping in new left hands (including one with a hatchet) in a couple of cases and varying the position of the right arm. A couple of the figures are converted from spare marching musketeers.  The NCO is straight out of the box.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Bag of stuff

On Saturday morning I popped into Wargames Emporium as Richard Phillips wanted me to pick up some Sepoy figures he had on order.

While I was mooching around I found some bags of assorted figures on the sale table. I figured that it was worth a fiver to take a punt on what might be in there.

Now we need to bear in mind that this is the north of England so in these parts, if you play your cards right, five pounds is equivalent to nearly two pints of decent ale. So was my purchase worth it?

I have to say that on balance, yes it was.

The green ziplock was, literally, a mixed bag. It contains a lot of bits of micro-armour but, unfortunately for me it's all GHQ and so in 1/285th scale rather than the British standard of 1/300th. However, the three HMMWVs will go straight into my (tiny) 1980s US army. In fact I've already painted them in temperate MERDC for that purpose.

The rest of the micro-armour was a mix of bits from various models.  There are three BT-series tank hulls and three turrets that I think might might make up complete tanks. However, I think these guys will dwarf the 1/300th BT-7s I already have so I'll probably paint them up and see if I can sell them.

Also in the green ziplock were a few 15mm figures (which I'll pass on to Tom Davis) and four 28mm figures.  First of these is a figure that's obviously meant to be John Maclaine somewhere in the Nakatomi Plaza...

... though I have to say a close look at his face suggests he'd more readily pass for 1980s heart-throb Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode.

Also in the bag were these three:

They aren't immediately suggesting a use to me but we'll see....

The other two bags contained Baccus 6mm figures. In the poor light of the shop I couldn't tell what they were but I figured it was worth a shot. 

In the end I think I've got a whole Republican Roman army and a couple of bases worth of Greek hoplites! 

By a strange coincidence this is the second time (in well over a decade) that I've bought a load of assorted second-hand 6mm stuff from Wargames Emporium and the second time it's turned out to include a complete Republican Roman army! Last time they were Irregular Miniatures. This time's Baccus minis are sufficient, I think, to build up an army for To The Strongest! If I do that, though, I'll have to sell them on as I already have such an army for those rules in 28mm scale.

Oh and I'd forgotten; there's also a few French (I think) Napoleonic infantry and cavalry in 6mm scale.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Crisis Point 2021 Report

With a few weeks' perspective (albeit most of the weekends spent driving around the country taking offspring to and from various universities) I now feel able to make some comments on Crisis Point 2021 and how it panned out.

First the positive - it looked fantastic! I'll throw in a few pictures throughout this report. 

For starters, Kevin Tingle's half-repaired, old Mogul fort was excellent.  

Richard Phillips and Will McNally contributed much of the remainder of the terrain. Sorry I don't seem to have a better picture of Richard's excellent cliff-top native village...

... and his large number of mud-brick buildings made a huge contribution to both game-play and the appearance of the various towns and villages of the islands.

As far as the rules were concerned, Sharp Practice proved, as expected, excellent for producing fun play. Experience confirmed that the rocket rules were well-worth the effort that went into converting the figures.

The card driven system did slow things down, though, and we didn't get in as much action as I'd have liked.

The event saw us returning to the approach of playing a whole campaign on a single, very large table. Actually it turned out to be three tables - one representing the whole of Grand Woebetide, and two smaller ones representing the lesser land masses, Petit Woebetide and Edward Henry Island. 

There were twelve main forces - three each for the British, French, Arabs, and native Woebetideus. Each of these had a main player running them but I also included a few additional places for players representing junior leaders. This was necessary because I couldn't guarantee to have exactly the right number of players.

I'd originally intended that the group of regular players should get involved in the development of the plot. However, the further I got into planning, the more it seemed to me that the event would be improved if the players didn't know all the details of what was going on. As a result I ended up plotting out at least Day One almost as if I were the author of an adventure novel.

I'd arranged things such that each (non-player) overall commander would specify three jobs that needed doing. The players would decide how to share out the resulting missions between their forces. This should spread out the friendly forces such that they couldn't all concentrate on a single opponent, which would have ended the action early and potentially ruined the victim's fun.

I didn't know which player-forces would be carrying out which missions but I did know that if things went according to plan each player should get a decent day's gaming against a similarly-sized force. Sure, as events unfolded local fights would merge and we'd end up with a more complex free-for-all but hopefully by then no-one would feel like they'd been left out in the cold.

Right from the start this didn't work out as planned. One of the players decided that he would ignore his orders and begin by supporting a friend's force at entirely the wrong end of the island! This meant both that the friend's opponent was outnumbered two-to-one but also that our miscreant's opponent was left with no-one to fight! I had gone into the event keen to say "yes" to players' imaginative solutions to problems but in retrospect maybe I should have stood up for the plot in this case. I was forced to quickly change the briefing of the opponent-less player so as to allow him to get involved in the action.

Another downside of the single-author approach to the event was that some players weren't able to properly digest the available support options. 

I was forced to give out the orders and support options on the morning of the event. Ideally players should have had these the week before and could have turned up fully briefed and ready to go but uncertainty about player availability made this impossible. As it happened I lost four players in the weeks immediately before the event and another two discovered that they couldn't do the whole weekend. Yet another was expected until the morning of Day One. If I'd sent out briefings in advance I'd have had to say to some players, "Forget what you know, you're now playing someone else!"

It's a shame the support choices weren't all used to full effect. I'd put a lot of work into them, designing characters that made best use of the available figures. I was particularly pleased with Sir Warwick Bimble. This British gentleman counted as a Leader but had no military talent at all in his own right. However, the men loved him as his constant bumbling kept them amused. 

Sir Warwick accompanies the British troops
fighting for control of Port Charles

I'd declared that he served two practical purposes. Firstly he was an extra body - if the real Leader he was with was determined to be a casualty, there was a 50% chance Sir Warwick would be affected instead. Secondly, if Sir Warwick did become a casualty, the men would be furious. This had the effect that they would roll on the "bad things happen" table but apply the result in reverse - a force could see their Force Morale go up if Sir Warwick were shot! Unfortunately, it was part-way through the second day that I realised Sir Warwick was still off-table as the controlling player hadn't understood the value of having him around.

Despite all of the above, the game moved along sufficiently that by the end of Day One we had exhausted all of the "plot" I'd set up in advance.

A lot of time had been wasted on Day One trying to put together decks of cards for each "sub-game". For Day Two I decided to go with a single deck for the whole room and to basically let the players decide what they would do with their forces. Day Two was more relaxed for me as a result.

In the end I think Crisis Point 2021 was a mixed success. 

I'm glad we got to try out Sharp Practice on such a large scale. I don't think that was a complete failure. 

From a plot point of view, I'm not inclined to say "We must carry on from where we left off". There were some, frankly silly, events that I wouldn't regard as realistic in an on-going timeline.  My plan is to do more gaming in the Woebetides but I'll be rebooting the setting and starting again as if the events of Crisis Point didn't take place. That way we can make best use of the effort that went into producing the forces and terrain for the game.


Yet more for the Cold War

 My return to painting 1/300th scale stuff for Cold War Commander continues. 

left - ACRV-2, right - AT-T with Small Yawn radar

ACRV-2 is a command and artillery observation vehicle, while the Small Yawn (NATO codename) is a mortar locating radar system.  

I had assumed the AT-T was over-scale but when I checked the dimensions of the vehicle in Isby (it's 6.99m long) it seems it's about right.

I'd normally put these models on a larger base for use as a CO element in Cold War Commander but to be honest I have more CO units than I need.

Instead, I'm considering running some small solo games shamelessly stealing ideas from Neil McCusker's Khemed campaign. These guys might be useful as stand-ins for a coastal missile battery for my Spanish Marine Brigade to take out in the early 1990s.

Monday, October 4, 2021

On the bookshelf: The Deerslayer

I've just finished reading The Deerslayer by James Fennimore Cooper. It's effectively the prequel to The Last of the Mohicans and set at the start of what the British call the French and Indian Wars. 

Written in 1841, this is an early-Victorian novel so the language is going to take a bit of work to get used to but once you've got tuned into it, the story moves along at a reasonable pace. The set up is, if not claustrophobic, at least tightly confined to the environs a lake in upstate New York then (early 1740s) known as Glimmerglass but now Otsego Lake.

The featured characters centre around their relationships with the Deerslayer of the title, Nathaniel Bumppo, or Hawkeye as he will later be known. Indeed it's in this story that we get to discover how he gained the soubriquet.

There's not much fighting in the book and what there is would be difficult to turn into balanced wargames but I think The Deerslayer is worth a read if you want to get a feel for the period before trying out Muskets and Tomahawks of the like.

Oh and by the way, it's available on Project Gutenberg.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

More for the VDV (later on)

Further delving through the box of assorted 1/300th scale junk saw me uncovering a (CWC) battalion's worth of BMD-1s.  This is a bit later than the ASU-57s; they entered service in 1969 so it's unlikely they'd ever have seen action in the same operation.

Effectively the airborne version of the BMP-1 and carrying a 73mm low pressure gun and top-mounted Sagger ATGW, the BMD gave Soviet airborne troops a significant increase in parachute-delivered firepower.

Again, I don't know the manufacturer. I think these models may be a bit over scale but it's nice to be able to field BMD-1s in both 20mm and 6mm.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Support for the VDV

After far too long spent building 28mm toys I rather thought it might be fun to go back to doing something in 6mm. Rooting through the drawer of unpainted stuff I found these ASU-57 self-propelled AT guns.

Not sure who the castings are by; they came years ago in an assortment I picked up off eBay. They lacked any crew so I dribbled in a bit of superglue and then inserted some chopped-in-half figures.

The ASU-57 was in use in the 1950s and 60s. I suppose I'll have to arrange to run some more early Cold War Commander.