Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Rabbit, headlights!

Chain of Command last night and not a good start, pitch black, decided to go down Borwick Lane, the local rat run, to get to the A6, too many cars and one clipped my wing mirror, not a happy bunny although there seems to be no real damage, will check this morning in the bright, no, grey light of day.

Anyway, I got to the club early to grab a table and set up a quick battlefield to introduce Too Fat Lardies forum member Dave to Chain of Command, so a novice playing a newbie. I kept it simple and organised a scenario straight from the book, a British attack on a German position, I also weeded out all the troops and vehicles which would not be used in the scenario so that my old back could take the strain of three boxes and all the paraphernalia. It was just as well I got there early as there was almost a full house again this week.

Dave duly turned up as I was half way through getting the table ready so a quick introduction as I trailed back and forth from the store cupboard. Dave chose the Germans while defending, I rolled for supports and got a lousy six, the Germans get half that and went for a green infantry squad giving him four altogether, I like a vehicle of some sort (I have enough) so I went for a Stuart light tank and an adjutant as I planned to use my two Senior Leaders heroically in the front line. I did fine with the patrol phase and managed to get my jump off points half way up the table, the Germans however had theirs right next to two large buildings which dominated that side of the table,. The Force Morale throws for both sides were a poor eight points. A dark cloud was approaching.

 The game kicked off and I got two squads into firing positions on the houses, Dave occupied one on the left flank, no one really managed to do any serious damage, soon the right flank house was entered and my troops here started to take casualties. I got sidetracked and started lobbing smoke in front of the left flank house with an idea to run up that side and outflank the Jerries, but in fact I should have been lobbing smoke in front of the more dangerous house, duh, the placement of the smoke was not brilliant either. I brought on my little tank and it popped away, again supporting the left flank. Dave now brought a third squad on to the table and again concentrated on my right, my boys were being cut to ribbons. I at last woke up and brought my third squad on and they dealt out quite a bit of punishment to the Jerries in the orchard but it was too late, in quick succession my leaders took three wounds which dropped my force morale to four, then the loss of the squad took me to one, it was game over. Before this a panzerschreck had jumped out and shot at the Stuart but had thankfully missed, this is a very dangerous weapon in CoC.

 I really messed this up, I had thought and thought about attacking on the left and never did, I then kept a squad off on the right when I should have brought them on as support, a poor show and it was only on the drive home that I realised what I should have done but it was too late. I do however think that I might double the support points in these games otherwise I will never get to use all the lovely vehicles available for WWII, it is fine in the campaigns but the basic scenarios I think are too low. I think if playing at home I may try the larger 8x5 table to see how the extra room plays out. At the end of the day it was a good result for Dave in his first game and another learning experience for me.

The club as I said was busy, two very nice Sharpe Practice games, Age of Sigmar and an RPG game, I have signed up to a small X-Wing League which Andrew is going to run, not sure what is happening next week but the week after I will be back at sea as the Sea Wolf hunts down more French prizes with Black Seas.

Monday, 11 November 2019

The Steamroller keeps coming.

Just back from a night on the town in Glasgow with my two boys and a couple of nephews, kick off was 1300 hrs and I retired exhausted at 2200 hrs. Overcrowded pubs, huge TV's (with no sound and everyone ignoring them), a fight to get to the bar only to be ignored half the time. Although I was only drinking 0% I gave up at some point as I could not physically drink any more. Getting too old for this now. Despite this I had a great night as my boys are good company.

Got back and immediately picked up from where I had left off, I finished weathering my new SU-122 and based the assault engineers, not sure when the new and possibly last order (for now) from Warlord will turn up so the only thing on the tray are three new Jump Off Points for Chain of Command, two German, one Russian and the SU-76 crew.

 I have started reading one of my eastern front books, all of which I drew the maps for, this one concentrates on the battle for Vienna which turned out to be the graveyard of many Waffen-SS divisions among others, the author has managed to research the fine details about the units involved their combat strengths and the vehicles used. Divisions on the Fuehrer's maps in Berlin are no more than battle groups at the front. The author has not so far carried this over to the Russians but I have only just started the book and I hope this will follow. I want ideas for scenarios.

Although I have nothing to paint at the moment I will not be slacking, I have had a new map project in and have 30 to draw along with what is already being worked on. Here are some from the past few months.

Club night tomorrow and I have a Chain of Command game with Dave from Morecambe who I got in touch with on the Too Fat Lardies forum so looking forward to that.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Almost there.

Last night I finished painting the first of my three Soviet tanks, I took some tips from Pete the Wargamer's YouTube playlist where he shows you how to paint most of the stuff available for Bolt Action from Warlord Games, he doesn't use Vallejo paints but you get the idea. For Soviet armour he recommends Army Painter Army Green Paint and then a wash with AP Army Shader, I did this over a grey undercoat and the results were perfect although you just have to take care the shader does not pool too thickly in places. I always put the decals on before shading/weathering. Instead of a second coat and then a brownish coat I merely 'pin washed' the vehicles and put in some delicate rain streaks with the shader, these I enhanced at places with a little rust (from MIG). Although I use MIG Track Primer, a kind of grey, for my tracks I did follow Pete's advice to wash them with rust then drybrushed with gunmetal. Quite a lot of slogans and numbers on Russian tanks were hand painted so if you are up to it go ahead, I used the decals provided with the Rubicon kits then weathered them a little to show them chipped with a green which matched as best I could with the AP spray. After this all the lower parts got a heavy drybrush with Vallejo Flat Earth as I wanted them fairly dusty. Strangely enough you don't find a lot of red stars on these machines. If you are in doubt go to the excellent Tank Encyclopedia for inspiration.

First up is the lovely little SU76 from Warlord games. a resin and metal kit which goes together fairly painlessly, I had to cut the top of the tracks on the right hand side to fit properly under the 'radiator' but this was easily done. Be careful when cutting out the flash on the rear handlebars. There was an extra ammo stand for the cabin but I have left that out and will think about it once I have painted the crew and put them in the crowded compartment, but a nice touch.

 Next is a Rubicon T34/76, finished as a mid war machine as my forces are going to be in the main fighting in 1944/45 but may stretch to the summer of 43 eventually. Nothing fancy here and you get the choice of two different turrets, I went with the later of the two, a very simple build and an imposing tank.

Lastly we have the T34/85 mid to late war with its imposing gun and large turret, basically the same tank as the earlier T34 but with a different gun and bigger turret to accommodate it.

I deliberated this morning on whether to replenish my paint tray with the last of the bits and pieces needed for me to launch the Konigsberg campaign, I have spent a fair wee bit on the Russians and wondered if I was about to cross the line into divorce country. What the hell, she'll never leave me. So I popped on to the Warlord Games site and while getting a PAK 43, T70 and an extra MMG I noticed that several assault guns and tank destroyers were ...... FREE, no, I looked around for the camera, but no there writ in large letters was definitely FREE. Still dubious I hit the button for an ISU-152, checked my basket and sure enough, £0, my lucky day, I could now explain to the missus that I was in fact saving money just like she does.

A couple of hours later I got an email from Warlord, I knew it was too good to be true, Marcus explained that an error had occurred on their website due to a test and the 152 should be £25, my heart fell, her indoors would kill me, but as it was their mistake I could have it as an early Christmas present! How brilliant is that, well done Warlord, you made my day and possibly saved a life in to the bargain.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Tobruk Saved and Volkssturm.

Last night at the club we had jumped to WWII and the Western Desert, somewhere outside Tobruk, the rules were Battlegroup and the figures etc. 15mm. The gist was that an Axis armoured group had broken through the main British defences and were making a run for several British supply dumps and their gun line. I took the good guys and had to hold off the Italians (Simon) and Germans (Andy) until possible reinforcements turned up, which would be handled by Rob.

I had a couple of 25pdr's and two 2pdr's along with some infantry, not a lot of the latter the Italians turned up first in several waves, light tanks to the front and heavier machines to the rear, further back were trucks loaded with infantry. The Jerries when they turned up arrived with three PzIII's. As the Italians raced to hit my left flank I dropped artillery on them along with some AT rounds from the 2pdr's, none of this had much effect, just as I got going some Eytie bombers turned up and thankfully did not make the best of their run. I continued to drop HE and was then forced to load AP, the small tanks started to brew up, although it was the 25pdr's doing the damage, the useless crew on the left hand 2pdr were just that, useless.

The Germans now turned up and struggled over the large hill rather than go round, this delayed them a bit but not by much, a wall of enemy tanks were now in front of my position, also on the left the remaining little tank had tried to drive over my AT gun which it missed but it did manage to take one of the supply dumps to my rear. The dice gods now turned in my favour as tank after tank blew up or it's crew abandoned ship, I had a great round and stopped the enemy advance in its tracks. It was also fortunate that my reserves had turned up and several Matildas took back the captured supply dump and turned the luckless enemy tank to charred rust. It did not go all our way and another annoying Italian bomber turned up, several elements lost members and one of the Matildas brewed. Mortar fire was also hitting our right flank and again inflicting small but mounting losses. Wait, more British tanks turned up, A10's I think, the Germans and their Allies looked crestfallen, it was time to count the losses. It turned out to be a win for the British, it had looked good at one point for the Axis but a couple of good turns stopped them dead and with the arrival of the British tanks the writing was on the wall. Apart from that one foray by the little Italian tank the enemy effort simply didn't get off the ground. A good little game, Battlegroup is a quick play set of rules and is perfect for a club night, my only reservation is that every time you shoot you have to take a sighting test, if you make the test and throw a shell at someone why would you then forget where they were seconds later for your second shot?

Full night at the club, two SAGA games, two Age of Sigmar and our Battlegroup game.

Maybe I should take up fantasy?
  The defenders of the Reich are finished, I now have a mish mash of kids, old men and veteran soldiers willing or not to give their all for Adolf Hitler and to stop the Red Menace. I have to say the Last Levy is a great resource for the Volkssturm and Hitler Youth and the figures are really good, out of the twenty there is only one which looks a bit out of place to me and there are several others which are simply superb. My particular favourites are the HJ lad in shorts who has the look of a born leader (or fanatic), the Party Official and the war weary veterans, a nice touch is the soldier lying down firing round a brick wall with that gun that shoots around corners. There are also a couple of soldiers armed with the Fliegerfaust, a hand held weapon like the Panzerfaust but intended to bring down ground attack aircraft, there is a photograph of the weapon lying in the ruins of Berlin, possibly used against ground targets at that late stage but it was certainly never issued in any numbers, it was also pretty useless anyway against aircraft.

Old guys.

Weary veterans.

Hitler Youth
 I have just received another tank, or rather the first of my assault guns, an SU76 made by Warlord, a resin and metal kit which is quite nice, it does need a bit of cutting with a sharp knife but went together painlessly. There was a little stand of ammo for the cabin but I didn't put it in as had I done so I think the crew would never fit. I have taken advantage of a bundle sale from Rubicon for two assault guns which I will build into an SU100 and an SU122. These are probably more than enough from my Russian forces but I aim to add at least five more vehicles so that I can cover every combination for the late war period, and a few trucks as well, looks like my birthday and Christmas is solved.

I am also halfway through the squad of Soviet assault engineers, again from Warlord and again a really lovely set of figures, these guys are going to double up as tank killers, engineer teams an SMG squad or even assault engineers.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Russischer Panzer!

Nice quiet Saturday morning so I got a couple of maps done, just some odds and ends, the first customer this morning turned up just as I got downstairs with a cup of coffee, you could bet your house on it. So, I put together the Rubicon packs which I am turning into Jump Off Points for Chain of Command, Rommel, Guderian, Zhukov and Timoshenko, Guderian is metal and the others plastic, nice but slim, I prefer chunky figures but they will do for JOPs. A nice touch with Guderian and his mate is that Rubicon put in two coloured maps  in the pack which you can either use as is or paste them atop the metal one which sits over the oil barrels, this saves viewers seeing the usual wargame efforts which to be honest are generally pretty bad, I have been guilty of this myself.

The T34 builds, one 76 and the other an 85 are very simple, I reckon they went up in an hour. You get a choice of different wheels with the kits, steel or rubber and what looks like maybe road wheels with the 76, I am unsure because nowhere does it state this. I would have liked a commander with the 85, not really possible with the large hatch on the 76, I would also have liked some some towing cables, now a quick look shows a lot of these tanks without towing cables but I just think they would have broke up the plain sides a bit. No matter, I would always go for a Rubicon kit first before anything else.

I have decided to be lazy with these tanks, for the first time I am going to use a spray can, Army Painter Army Green, this will be sprayed over a grey undercoat and then washed and weathered. I expect the paint next week some time. The Soviets also do not seem to have gone in for loading everything but the kitchen sink onto their tanks or using camouflage, unless it was white paint.

I was expecting to get some tank commanders from Rubicon after the great wargame survey so hopefully they will arrive at some point soon as they were supposed to be out last month, anyone got them yet?

So there we go, no patience wins out again although I am back to the Volkssturm next.