Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Castles and cash

 We had a break in Welsh Wales last weekend, specifically the village of Harlech, on the way we visited Conwy to again tour its magnificent castle, the next day we made for Caernarfon and the second imposing castle which like it's builder reminds me of the walls of Constantinople. Harlech castle was a mere few hundred yards from where we were staying. Wales I am informed is the most fortified country on the planet, while I am not sure of this it must have the largest number of beautiful castles all in the one place. Despite the castles the highlight of the weekend for me was a visit to a Slate Mine and the tour run by "Badger" a talkative, ex Royal Marine. We took the opportunity to climb a rather steep incline to get out of the mine rather than take the normal route, I was going to do it anyway but as the Memsahib had already expressed her intent to make the climb I thought I would go along to protect her.






So back to the club last night as I had missed it last week due to a cold, Bolt Action and an 800 point game as the Germans kicked off Operation Barbarossa. I was the Russians and chose four infantry squads, a BT-7 tank, a BT-10 armoured car, an MMG and HMG along with an Ampulomet anti-tank mortar. Duncan who was the Germans sent in a list with four small squads, one veteran, two medium mortars and a Panzer III. Now being an experienced player I thought this was going to be a walk in the park for my Soviets as it was a strange list to bring to a battlefield in 1941.

Duncan being the Germans was the attacker and had to take a village which I would defend, I only showed half my forces and kept half in reserve, it soon became evident that Duncan was going to go all out and attack my left flank. I made for a large wood there and decided to hold it or die in the attempt, but I was not taking the German attack seriously. I had warned against taking two mortars but Duncan was insistent, to my horror they never missed a target once and he hit first time every time, I lost my HQ and HMG very quickly while other defenders took serious casualties. I felt compelled now to bring on my armour.

NKVD Border Guards


Beware the mortars

Achtung Panzer!

 The BA-10 I kept out of LOS from the Panzer III and began to take on the defenders of a small nearby wood, the crew's accuracy was astoundingly bad, the BT-7 I sent to the right and pushed my troops there to swarm the German left. Before this happened I also lost the Ampuloment but not before it helped to wipe out the German veterans, I was a bit shocked by my losses up to this point but as there was no chance now that the Germans would get any of the objectives I decided to damn the torpedoes and throw everything I had at the Jerries, in essence I now became the attacker while Duncan got bogged down. In the last turn all the vehicles fired on each other and none got a hit.

For the attack scenario the attacker needs more points it should not be an equal point game, and with the Soviet free squad (which I also do not agree with) Duncan was heavily outnumbered due to his choices. We ran into a couple of Bolt Action stupidities but overall it passed an entertaining club night. I have another BA game next week, Germans (me) against British Para's which I was supposed to play a week or so ago.

I have just about finished the Blood Bowl team and come to the conclusion that despite all the fancy tips and video 'how to's" I will not be painting a lot of fantasy after these, it is just not my thing so I shall admire from afar. I am also more than a bit cheesed off with my Army Painter brushes which have been pretty rubbish, I switched from Winsor and Newton as I had got a couple of bad brushes from them and at that price I could not afford useless brushes. But my foray away from these has not proved successful, so I might go back, depends on how my Citadel synthetic brushes work out, so far so good.

My French figures arrived from the far side of the Pond at last and they are very nice and should work if I ever field French engineers again otherwise they will simply be extra men. These are now officially my most expensive wargame figures and a lesson to me to be more careful with my dosh in the future.

I will probably go to the FIASCO show in Leeds at the end of the month, I was very impressed with all the photos from the recent Partizan show in Newark and have a hankering to brave the outside world to perhaps see some at Leeds.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

St. Nazaire

On March 28, 1942 British forces made a large raid on the harbour of St. Nazaire in France in order to put the large dry dock there out of commission, this was the only dock capable of taking the battleship Tirpitz or other large German warships and the loss would force them to return to home waters for repairs and hopefully be sunk by the Royal Navy on trying such a journey. The game was set up by Little Wars TV and shown on their YouTube channel, I decided to give it a try as it looked interesting and with a little effort I could manage to set the table up.


I only needed a couple of factory type buildings which I managed to get fairly cheap from eBay and some polystyrene sheets which again I found online for a decent price, they are normally used for packing boxes. I set them up and cut them out, I had to knock a foot off the back end as the original table was 8x6 while mine could take 8x5 but as things turned out this was not a problem.

 The big day came yesterday and hit a snag as one player couldn't make it, so I was left to command the German garrison and the reinforcements while Matt and Dan took the raiders, it was going to be interesting. The British have two major objectives which must be destroyed, the Pump House and Winding Hut, lesser objectives are two AA positions, the Officers Quarters and a nearby ammunition train (this substituted for the U-Boat in the basin which I had to dispense with), the commandos need four objectives for an outright win.

The British organised their forces and Matt took his teams to attack the main objectives, Dan would land on the other side of the harbour and cause as much mayhem as he could and attempt to draw the German reinforcements away from Matt. To begin with I had four small patrols roaming the area and a couple of MMG's set up on the eastern half with what I hoped were decent fields of fire. The commandos duly arrived and marched inland, Matt cautiously keeping out of the line of sight of the nearby 20mm AA gun between the two sides of the harbour, I now found that my MMG's did not have the range on the large table to bring Matt under fire nor did the AA have a clear shot. I did have two patrols in this area and the brave but scared conscripts who never expected to be under fire on the French coast moved to meet the raiders. Dan meanwhile pushed his men forward as fast as they could go and they huddled around the Cafe and the wall surrounding it while inching towards the Officers Quarters.

Matt's Commandos come ashore.

Dan's men rush forward.

The garrison attempt to stall the British.

The Winding Hut fell first after the Commandos had dealt with the AA gun on top of the building, they then engaged the two small patrols and wiped them out, Matt was now pushing further into the harbour while a demolition team made for the Pump House. Dan was now being engaged by the 88mm AA gun along with the 20mm and an MMG team, sadly however these guys had spent too much time enjoying the delights of an easy posting and were completely ineffective in their return fire. The German reinforcements were now turning up albeit it slowly and I sent one squad along to counter Matt with another two close behind them, the last two I kept on the west side with the intention of stopping Dan getting the Officers Quarters. The 88 crew were despatched and although I at last got a few good hits on the raiders here my own men were dropping like flies.

The useless 88.

The MMG crew hiding on the roof.

More of Matt's men arrive.

Dan taking moving on the Officers Quarters.

The regulars at last turn up despite losing a truck.

 In the east the British took a very aggressive stance and I was quite surprised by this being a shooty guy myself and I ended up on the back foot here while the Pump House was set with explosives, and the Winding Hut was ready to blow. With time getting on and only two turns left it was clear the British would get the two major objectives and the Officers Quarters, not four but near enough with the Germans in complete disarray. 

Trouble for the 88 crew.

Dan's command team.

The more than useless 20mm AA.

More Commandos move forward.

Survivors from the truck.

 On discussing the game later it became obvious that with the Demolition Teams only being able to move six inches the Ammo Train target and probably the 20mm AA gun could not be reached in the time available, it could also be a stretch for the second force of raiders to get to the 88mm. The game therefore needs to go to 10 turns rather than 8 or the Demo teams move as normal or a maximum of 9 inches if they Run, penalising them at Advance speed is a bit too harsh. The 88mm team had been cut down but the point is it has to be destroyed so I think this must remain the criteria for this target, again could the ammo train be blown up by weight of fire, no, as this is being substituted for the U-Boat and must be blown up with a demo charge. I hindered the 20mm AA gun somewhat by putting a large oil tank down as scatter, this drastically cut the LOS to Matt's team from that gun, having played the video again I shall look a bit closer at what terrain is actually in that area. Also in the video the charges are deemed to go off, I suspect these just explode in the move after they are laid and once the Demo team moves out of the way.

What can I moan about, well the inexperienced garrison were very easy to kill but I did not use my brain here and threw them at the enemy instead of holding them back until the regulars could reinforce them. My MMG's were badly placed and just to rub salt into the wound their shooting was abysmal, even the 20mm and 88mm when able to target Dan's men failed miserably, the latter getting only one hit before the crew died.

I will tweak the game and get another sorted because despite my miserable performance it was really good fun and a big thanks to Matt and Dan for coming along.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021


 Winter is certainly on the way, wet, dark and miserable again last night. I picked up Duncan first last night as he asked to come along to the club and he only lives five minutes away. Dan had offered a Seven Years War game so Duncan was going to be under my command as the French tried to win back the bridge they had lost a few weeks ago. You remember, the one where I had performed brilliantly only to be let down by my subordinates but managed to report back to Versailles first.

This time Duncan had the left and Ian the right, I took the centre with the intention of supporting either flank depending on where success lay. Duncan grasped the bull by the horns and set his brigade off at a sharp pace against the Prussian right only to be ambushed by some light troops hidden in a wood, no problem we thought as artillery was nearby and I turned one of my battalions to take out the skirmishers. The rest of my forces went forward but more cautiously than Duncan's. Ian failed the first of many of his command rolls and stood by watching the battle unfold.

My boys confidently approach the enemy centre.

Ian's shy brigade.

 Duncan was determined to force the enemy flank but managed to lose a cavalry squadron and an infantry battalion during the first clashes, no matter a counterattack by more cavalry forced the enemy back and they suffered from musketry, things looked good. Sadly the annoying troops in the wood would not break despite the amount of lead going their way. Duncan was now in a position to force the enemy flank and seeing this I ventured forward against the Prussian centre in support, Ian was crawling forward on my right. My opening volleys crashed out and as the smoke cleared hardly a hair on Prussian heads had been injured, a dreadful opening for my boys. To make matters worse a furious cavalry charge destroyed one of my battalions and upset my careful advance.

The French left stalls.

The troublesome light troops.

Things start to go wrong for the French centre.

Duncan now stalled just as he needed to close while the Prussians now managed to form a solid defensive line to our front, one of my battalions fled as did another of Duncan's, the crises had been reached. The French left again failed to go forward and I threw my forward battalions at the enemy hoping to cause a breach in their line. The peacock Grenadiers failed miserably and were routed, the line troops who had gone in alongside showed them how a charge should be performed and sent their opponents fleeing but in the face of the opposition decided wisely to retire after their efforts. Ian had now advance into musket range and managed to get off a few volleys, Dan opposite him fell back on the objective, night fell and the battle was over.

The Duc d'Ecosse's reputation was in tatters, although Duncan had suffered his brigade was still looking good and hanging on, Ian was untouched as his men had refused to engage the enemy while my brigade had broken and were even now looking for a way off the battlefield. The Prussian right and centre had been tested but had not been found wanting and managed to recover each time it looked like the French only needed that one push, that one good die roll, that one piece of luck. My own die rolling was dreadful, especially for shooting, that first volley which was supposed to clear the way for me was a damp squib and I did not recover. Almost a full turnout for the club, elsewhere there was Chain of Command, Blood Bowl and Age of Sigmar

Things are still quiet here and the painting of my Blood Bowl team has not progressed very far this week. I did manage to order up another half dozen of the excellent trees from Last Valley, I now have all the 28mm trees I shall ever need. The four French Gaddis Games figures which in a moment of madness I ordered from the US have now after five weeks arrived in Canada from whence my mate will post them out to me. I wanted these for engineers but they have become so expensive I shall never put them in harms way.

Map projects continue to be heaped upon me and I have half a dozen in various stages of completion awaiting editors and authors comments or the final touches for the typesetter. This morning I start on partisan operations in Yugoslavia during WWII, a complex set and a challenge from the information sent to me.

Transylvania 16C


Cold War

 The attack on St. Nazaire is now close, all leave has been cancelled and briefings are being prepared.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

No title

 I didn't go to the club last week, I had not arranged anything and on the night it was pretty miserable and wet so I was happy to hunker down in front of the fire, or more likely the computer in the study. I am going this week and am taking part in a Black Powder Seven Years War game.

I took the time off to set up my St. Nazaire terrain and was happy with the finished product, I have organised to play the game on Saturday 9th October, I do hope the effort has been worth it. No matter I managed to add another few industrial type buildings to my collection so win win for me.

 I am now up to my neck in Blood Bowl and have completed two figures, while building the second team and a couple of Star Players. Building these has generally been OK but I did turn the air blue on a few occasions when I could not get something to fit and despite checking online and looking at the instructions I came close to using a hammer. This has merely confimed my aversion to plastic soldiers despite the price and aesthetics.

 With nothing going on I have been forced to watch a couple of old programmes on catch up TV, and therefore have had to sit through adverts, I just do not recognise the country these are supposedly set in because they have nothing in common with my life.

I can however recommend the movie "Nobody", a beer and pretzel, one and a half hour romp which is violent but the good guy wins, it tickled me anyway. No subliminal messages, no preaching, just action from the start to the end. I am also watching "Only Murders in the Building" the main reason being the excellent Martin Short who is one of the three leading characters. Steve Martin is another and I can take or leave him, usually leave and the last but not least is Selena Gomez, supposedly a hot property in Hollywood but I have seen planks of wood with more character. It is not great, but it is pleasant and easy on the eyes.

 So there you have it, not much going on but things should hot up next week.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

No white flags here (or submarines)

 Sadly my wargaming weekend was brought to a halt by a virus, not Covid thankfully but a very nasty cold/flu doing the rounds in the south-west so mate Matt had to call off, being all dressed up and nowhere to go so to speak I advertised on the club Facebook page for any volunteers for a Chain of Command game as I had the table built up and the time to spare. Stuart rose to the challenge and we chose forces and a scenario from the Blitzkrieg book.

I was the French again fresh from repulsing Rob's Germans a week or so ago, this time I took a Chasseur platoon which allowed me an extra COC dice, my choice of supports was rather basic however I opted for a tank (R35) over the anti-tank gun as my main support, this was backed up by a team of motorcyclists and AA machine guns in case of a Stuka attack, none of my supports were allowed to enter the table until turn 2, which in CoC could be a long time. Stuart came with a Motorised Infantry platoon so the only armour he could get was armoured cars, he took one of these, an extra infantry squad and forward observer for a mortar barrage.

  For the first time we used the patrol phase app (sorry I have no idea who the author is) on my iPad, you only need a photograph of the battlefield and off you go, I was very impressed, an excellent aid and one I will use again.

Once again I was defending the village and I managed to get a good position on my left in a ruined house while holding a wood on my right, I was hoping for a quick COC dice in order to end the turn and get my supports on before I was overwhelmed. Stewart put a squad in the centre and then started his attack through the wood to hit my left flank, the first squad up took heavy casualties and was forced to withdraw while another squad was brought up to help, his little mortar continually sniped at the men in the house but did no damage. Over on my right the Germans brought on the little 222 armoured car and advanced to take my guys in the wood under fire, at the same time a mortar barrage was dropped on the wood but although pinning my men it caused comparatively little damage, but it stopped the armoured car from coming any further forward. The artillery fire stopped and the 222 advanced, I was forced to pull back further into the woods as I had nothing at that time to tackle the 'little tank'. I brought on my VB grenadiers with the idea of bombarding the thing but just as I did I managed to end the turn and on came my armour which gave the armoured car pause to rethink where he was going.


Leutnant Gruber's 'little tank'.


 It was going to take me a little time to get the Renault into a firing position but as Stuart now had two squads shooting at the ruined house I turned all my attention on to them, the motorcyclists with their LMG had arrived and joined in, German casualties climbed at a faster rate than French casualties. Once again the German attack faltered and withdrew, this allowed me to now turn on the squad in the centre of the table and this too suffered badly. The armour of both sides could not land a damaging hit until right at the end when the 222 was taken out of action, with the German infantry fought to a standstill and the French still in a strong position with a reserve squad still to enter the fray Stuart conceded.

Grenadiers turn up.

Pierre's little tank.

 A couple of observations, we both had the extra Chain of Command die and I thought this really helped the flow of the game, it was not a cure for cock ups though and at one point I could not order my tank forward as even with six dice I could not get a three. The Germans I thought lacked some oomph, with no decent armour to choose from I think they would have benefited from bringing the infantry gun along with the armoured car, the mortar barrage did not deliver the goods and as the Jerries were coming forward and with the rather large footprint of the mortars it became to dangerous to drop them a second time. I know they covered a large area in real life but it is a game and the huge 3 foot square to me just ruins the game on a 6x4 foot table so I never use them, I am tempted for home games to reduce this footprint quite a bit so that they can be used for flushing out defenders without being overly powerful, we will see. Anyway, an excellent afternoon was had and Stuart brought me a printed tank as a gift, an FT-17 already painted, it will join my other one for the future.

I am going to set up my St. Nazaire table this week to see what it looks like and then work out some dates to play the game.

All historical gamers look away now. I have got my Blood Bowl bundle, the main game, an extra team as one of those in the box are a bit too poncy for me, can I say that. I have built five figures from my first team and cocked up two of them by cutting off bits which I should not have cut off. Although these are fine figures I would still not go plastic for anything historical. I doubt you will see these guys finished for quite a few weeks yet.