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.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Hearts of Oak.

Rob has went overboard (forgive the pun) and bought Black Seas from Warlord Games, a game based during the Age of Sail, a follow up from their WWII Cruel Seas, I was invited to take part and dutifully braved a cold, dark night and headed off to Lancaster.

I am unsure what comes in the starter box but Rob had six brigs, the rules, lots of rulers, turn thingies, wind direction and tokens, all very nicely done with the rule book looking very nice with lots of eye candy. It did have an index but again the typical Warlord Games Index Light, maybe I am wrong but that's what it looked like to me. The little ships arrive unpainted but there is a guide in the rules, these are very nice and Rob had done an excellent paint job on them and even managed rigging on most of them. Like Cruel Seas the ships will be a big attraction for wargamers and do seem to be reasonably priced.

How does it play, it is quick and enjoyable and just the ticket for a club night, granted we only had six small ships with only a couple of guns for a broadside, how you would get on with a squadron of 74's has yet to be seen. Everything is fairly simple and as long as you understand the weather gauge (wind) then you can be off to a flying start, depending which way the wind blows of course, I struggled a bit with this but caught on better during the second game. In order to deal out damage you have to get in close and personal and the best way to injure the enemy is to cross the T and rake the bow or stern.

I expected an upgrade or extra dice due to my service under the White Duster but I was howled down by the other players. The first game found the British and French escorting a merchantman which had to get off the opposite side of the table, the wind was against us (British) so the French came on very quickly, I think we had decided to sail up the right flank but the wind forced us to divert to the left, this meant an uneven fight with the three British ships against the two French brigs while the merchantman used her speed to sail off into the wild blue yonder. My hearty gun crews dealt out death and destruction to one Frenchman at close range so much so that she struck her colours, this little victory of mine was marred with my sister ships almost ramming me and one getting stuck alongside which despite hacking at spars and rigging remained an impediment as the game ended. Nonetheless I had earned a prize, my crew were very pleased.

I rake the bows of my first victim.
As the Frenchie strikes Cap'n Rob entangles me.
 The second game involved two French brigs and two British both trying to root out a nest of Spanish privateers sheltering under a fort, so in effect two vs four. Again the wind favoured the enemy however I managed to use it to my advantage and as a Frenchie hove into sight I opened up on her as the privateers sailed past, I then managed to sail past her stern and delivered a devastating broadside into her. This killed most of the officers and shattered the command and control along with starting a fire. With typical Gallic flair the French put out the fire and sailed off as fast as they could for home as I tried desperately to turn and catch up. My efforts however put me in an excellent position to take on the second French brig "Marines at the ready, make fast the enemy lads!" I laid my little ship alongside and in my minds eye I saw myself leap on to her mainsail, stick my cutlass in and glide to the deck as it shredded on my way down, eat your heart out Douglas Fairbanks. Back in reality my dice beat the French dice and she struck her colours while I magnanimously accepted her captains sword. Two prizes for Captain Anderson, the Sea Wolf, move over Horatio.

The Spaniards and a nice little fort.
I rake the stern of my second victim.
Boarders Away! A second Frenchie strikes to the Sea Wolf.
 There you go, a good evenings entertainment and I have to say a fine game to play of an evening. The mat is from Deep Cut, it is cloth and worked very well with these ships.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019


I have kind of got over my drubbing at the weekend and have now put it down entirely to bad luck, not my mistakes or Stewart's competence, this saving face exercise will allow me to continue to enjoy my hobby.

With that out of the way I received a nice box of stuff from the Postie yesterday to add to the recent order from Warlord of the Volkssturm and Soviet Engineers, this parcel contained three vignettes of German and Soviet officers to make into Jump Off Points along with two T34's, one with the 76mm gun and the other with the 85mm. I now have a nice little pile to take me through November, I have primed the Volkssturm and will start on them tomorrow night, I am at the club tonight. I shall be taking part in a game of Warlord's new Black Sails.

With some 56 years in the hobby I have still to settle down with a varnish I like, at first of course I never even thought of varnishing my troops etc. Once I had become a proper wargamer for decades I used Winsor and Newton matt acrylic varnish, this dulled down the then enamel paints but there was a satin sheen to the figures, not really noticeable at wargaming length but there nevertheless. I then went for Army Painter Anti-shine, never had a problem but changed to AP brush on varnish, as I now also played quite a few skirmish games and the troops were handled more often I used one coat of gloss, then two of matt, these were still satin, so I sprayed with Tamiya matt varnish, again no problem. I then bought some Testor's, the ultimate matt so they say, yes at times it was real matt but at others it was......satin. now the strange thing is with Testor's and the brush on is the palette or the spray tray all turned out absolutely matt, but the figures still satin, why? So what now, well I will still put on one coat of gloss and one of matt brush on but finish off with Army Painter spray, not because I have a problem with Tamiya but merely on price and volume.

I bought a dice tray recently, might have gone overboard on the size but you need lots of dice for War and Conquest, Stewart was going to get one but hasn't so far, he moaned a bit on Saturday so I called on my DIY skills and produced this little beaut with some cardboard and sellotape, job done. I have a sneaking suspicion this helped his die rolling.

It is a lovely day, I have just completed two map projects and as it is nearly lunchtime I am downing tools until this afternoon, I am exhausted having served at least three people so far.

This snippet really should be kept for a future View but I can't contain myself I have to share. The New Zealand Navy:

All Navy personnel are permitted to wear discreet make-up, clear or pale nail varnish when in uniform, “trimmed, neat and natural” false eyelashes, one pair of “natural coloured” stud or sleeper earrings and perfume or cologne in moderation. Rings may be worn on a maximum of two fingers.
Navy personnel are also allowed to use natural-coloured hair dye or have their hair “lightly tipped”, as long as it’s clean and neatly groomed. Long hair is also permitted in a bun or single plait to ensure safety and tidiness.

In my day if you used anything other than Old Spice you were suspect.

Sunday, 27 October 2019

What a shame (he said insincerely)

My son and I are giving Chain of Command a try, I have dabbled a bit recently but Stewart and I kicked off The Scottish Corridor campaign set in Normandy a month ago and got through the first game, this weekend was to see us move forward hopefully by several game turns.

The first game was on the left flank of the Corridor as 'Das Reich' and the 7th Seaforth Highlanders moved into the village of Le Valtru. I was looking forward to this as both sides had a lot of support points and it should be an even fight, I took a Firefly, a Sherman, an adjutant and a pre-game barrage, I was feeling very confident, I hoped the Germans would be delayed by the barrage and I could simply overwhelm the front line, boy was I wrong. I did manage to get a few more troops than Stewart on table along with both my tanks, the Germans had two infantry squads and next up was a Panther, just what my Firefly had been patiently waiting for, bang and zing as the shot barely took off the paint. I had decided to be aggressive in this game so when a German squad decided to pop into the open I moved my squad up on Tactical, this with the hedge gave me Hard Cover, OK maybe I would take a hit or some shock but then I could wipe out the over eager Jerries. No, that didn't happen Stewart threw almost 20 dice and got 8 hits, my boys faltered, a further volley got 10 hits, I lost teams, my leader was wounded then killed, the survivors ran for the hills, my Force Morale plummeted. The Panther meanwhile had taken out the Firefly, the Germans had settled in to the hedgelines and my miserable efforts at putting down smoke were upset by the lousy aim of the mortar team. I thought this was going to be an even stevens fight as we both had a pile of support points but as that one squad and the tank disappeared and more Germans turned up I retreated, head and brick wall came to mind.

Not only was the battle itself a catastrophe, Stewart's firepower and and his excellent die rolls stopped me dead, my after battle results landed me in hot water as my men began to be wary of Lt. Carmichael and were really unhappy with him, my Force Morale would now take a -2 hit. Kampfgruppe Weidinger from 2nd SS Panzer had pulled off a startling victory, the town of Le Valtru had fallen, the Corridor had now lost ground on both the left and right flanks.

Meanwhile on the right flank Kampfgruppe Frey from 1st SS Panzer Division was attacking into Mouen having pushed the British from the outskirts, as I was the defender this time I only had six support points to the German 15. I decided to take some entrenchments and as there would inevitably be a German tank turn up two PIAT's. I simply lined a hedge line right across the enemy advance. Sure enough a PzIV rumbled on to the table and began to pick off my guys who could not really reply to the tanks big gun. I did manage to get several PIAT shots in but as the tank stayed at long range from this weapon it really was no threat at all, Panzer grenadiers slowly made their way forward on my right and although the entrenchments helped my guys started once again dropping dead. My bad luck continued and I was forced by a random event to deploy my reserve, I compounded this by putting it in the wrong place. As teams started to die or rout my desperate Force Morale dropped even further, very soon I was on four command dice and as things got worse and I could see no way of stopping the Germans I once again left the field.

Again Stewart's shooting had been deadly and my bad luck allied to being rubbish had done for my boys, Carmichael was thoroughly disliked by now and he was hovering on the brink of losing more morale points. Mouen had now fallen and things were getting desperate for the British.

Back to the left flank and I decided not to fight this as again I only had six support points and that would certainly not be enough to halt Weidenger, so as the Jerries exploited their win at Le Valtru the combat moved again to the right flank.

I played my Wild Card on this next game (we got this wrong but hey ho) so hoped my counter-attack could retake Mouen, I took a Churchill this time, an extra squad and some support teams, the enemy were also hit with a pre-game barrage, what could go wrong. Well let me tell you, the left flank was wide open and the ground deadly, I had to start behind the hedge line and as Stewart managed to get a squad opposite so anyone moving there was going to take a lot of hurt (see terrain mistake below). I gingerly put two squads up on my left and had one hold that flank while hoping to advance the other along with the Churchill, the same Churchill which had had its sights damaged by a PzIV, for the rest of the game these tanks hurled shells at each other from almost point blank range with no effect, added to this I had a PIAT team also firing, hitting but doing no damage. Once again my morale hit rock bottom as a squad disappeared along with a couple of teams who broke, crestfallen I called the risible attack off.

After checking my officers opinion and that of his men it became obvious that the Corridor was going to be cut as I had lost my counter-attack and my morale now started at -3 while the Jerries were at least +2 over the maximum and as they had held the ground and won all the games only had one gefrieter with a slight graze on his elbow as casualties. In consequence Operation Epsom had to be called off and the Normandy campaign put back by at least three weeks.

The loss of the first game was in great part due to the exceptional die rolling of Stewart, he was not so deadly in the second but my bad luck did seem to continue, as I said I am not the best WWII player and no doubt could have done things different but what? The third game I did expect to handle much better but it was not to be, maybe I should have gone with a couple of tanks rather than rely on the Churchill's heavy armour which was not as heavy as I thought. Oh, and I have just realised while typing that because I did not have enough low walls we had used hedges with stone walls in them and then promptly forgot this, so I should have been able to shoot across them but didn't, I have found my excuse however and will wheel it out whenever Stewart crows about his victories.

A good weekend playing on some lovely terrain and pushing some nice wee sojers around, I must do better. I wouldn't be me if I didn't have some gripes, and while most of it was either bad luck or bad judgement on my part I do find that Panzergrenadier squads are over powerful, yes you can use smoke, yes you can use fire and movement but if you don't get the command dice or your smoke goes astray or your men get almost wiped out by the first volley as they move into the open then your goose is cooked. For some reason you cannot choose heavy mortar support in this campaign and it was sorely missed.

What next, I will work on completing the Russians for the Konigsberg campaign, in the meanwhile perhaps we can get a Johnny Reb or War and Conquest game organised, I feel the need for a win.