Sunday, 19 January 2020

How well the Raven flocks were fed....

Dark Age mayhem in the Post Office this week, Stewart and I had organised an afternoon for some War and Conquest, he brought his Carolingians and I decided to field my Romano-British whose swords were rusting in their scabbards, but in the end I settled once again for the Saxon Heptarchy army. Although we haven't played for a while I seem to remember the Saxons being beat and then snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, so they were desperate to get to grips with their old enemy, I acquiesced.

The battle was on an 8x5 foot table and the armies were 3,000 points. I decided to live dangerously this time and plan for a swift advance and clash of arms, I took no cavalry and recruited more men into some of my warbands so that I would be almost guaranteed that advantage in a fight, I also recruited the Franks once again, despite my misgivings as they have performed a lot better since I gave them more men and put their wages up. I had two household units along with the Franks to provide the backbone of the army while the rest were average troops. The Carolingians brought two cavalry units, two elite foot units and the usual suspects.

We set up at opposite ends of the battlefield and although I wanted to advance quickly a small field could hold my left flank up. I decided to quickly try and drive away the enemy skirmishers then send the archers to the right to fend off some cavalry while the main line ignored them and plunged forward. Stewart formed this cavalry into skirmishers which took some pressure off me although they can be a real pain behind the lines. I was two battle formations short so someone was going to be hit in the flank at some point, but I hoped to overwhelm the enemy left and then bring my victorious units back to even this shortfall.

The Saxon host.
The Carolingians.

The battle began and my archers did not rise to the occasion taking a couple of moves to rout one of the enemy skirmish units, I then had to move them to the rear as the Carolingian cavalry were fast approaching. The rest of the advance was going really well and as the crises approached I won the initiative and threw nearly ever battle formation I had at the enemy, I had to leave one on standby as there were two units to its front and I was unsure which one to go for. As the Saxon wave crashed against the Carolingian wall my plan seemed to be working, the enemy right flank cavalry were defeated and the Franks destroyed their target while the rest of my men slowly grabbed the upper hand in the desperate melees. It looked like an overwhelming Saxon victory was on the cards as one of my hearthguards routed and dispersed another enemy. Within a short time however the Carolingians awoke to the danger, the men on the hill now fought back with renewed vigour and stood their ground as my weary men began to waver. My second hearthguard had met the Duke's and both refused to give ground and were to fight until the end, not giving an inch while they fell in ranks. Now that flank charge I had hoped to circumvent hit one of the Duguth units and although my boys fought bravely it was too much to ask and they fled.

Saxons advance and their left hurries to catch up.
The armies close.
The Saxons charge.

I had won on the right but had been too successful and my men were too far away to intervene quickly, the Kings household refusing to change formation did not help either as he berated them to move, the same happened on my left, the victorious Ceorls also could not get close enough to help their comrades on the hill who also broke and ran. As night fell honours looked even as the fighting drew to a close, although having been two battle formations down I felt my Saxons could march home with a smile on their face. There was also a good chance the Duke would have succumbed to his wounds during the night as he had lost two out of his three lives.
Looking good.
The flank attack I had been fearing.
Both household troops fight to the death.
The end.

We haven't played in a while as I said and forgot some rules but nothing which would have turned the tide of the battle in any dramatic way. Once again War and Conquest provided an excellent game and an enjoyable, tense and exciting afternoon.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Quick shout.

After my brush last year with ordering the wrong thing for drawing I have today received what I should have ordered. My old tablet which is I think seven years old has started playing up, over the past month or so little things have been bugging me, the copy key not working, the tablet powering off and I couldn't move files yesterday morning. So I bit the bullet and ordered up a new one.

I got a good deal compared to some online and the nice lady said she would send it next day for me as a gesture of goodwill. Having no patience I leapt at this as well as the price, I received it this morning and it was like Christmas had come early, happy as a certain Larry. I was a bit put out by the amount of packaging I will now have to trail to the dump considering how slim the tablet is, Greta would not be pleased, actually that now looks like the inside of Greta's borrowed Tesla, minus the food.

 Did I mention the stylus has 8,192 pressure levels, how do they know that, who on earth apart from a computer could compute that?

Anyway, back to the mapping and have just updated to the new Illustrator 2020, looking forward to this.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Buda is a Pest

After my disastrous weekend with Chain of Command I wanted a change and organised with Simon a Bolt Action game of 1,000 points for last night. I looked through the Fortress Budapest book for inspiration, there are some really good scenarios in this book but most obviously involve heavily built up areas, it was a siege after all. My terrain is all rural for the East although it could do at a pinch. No, I am not going down the ruined city path.

In the end I went for a table which had buildings around two edges bordering a large park, the park was the target for a Luftwaffe supply drop to the beleaguered garrison. Canisters would be placed at random in the park by both players, then sides were diced for, once you got within 3" of a canister a die was thrown to see what was revealed, we only managed a poor four cannisters. On move four of the game a glider would crash into the park, possibly landing on top of something or someone.

I took two German platoons supported by a sniper, flamethrower, Hetzer and PzIIIN, Simon had one platoon with an MMG, flamethrower and KV85. I do not normally take the sniper or flamethrower as I hate meeting them but hey, it was time to doll out hurt to the enemy.

The game started and I planned to hold a couple of the small woods then make an assault when my second wave turned up. Guess what, my vehicles turned up fine but the two squads did not, the game was half way through before they decided to turn up, Simon had the same problem with his flamethrower and his tank was late allowing me to position the Hetzer to wait for it. The Hetzer fired, hit and took off some paint chips, but it did mean the tank riders had to debunk, the KV missed for most of the rest of the game. My PzIII now opened up as the Russians advanced towards the middle ground, I love this tank and the Stummel, they deal out death to infantry squads, sure enough it stopped two Soviet squads dead. The glider now turned up and crashed almost in the centre of the park, the Russians now made a move to capture the wreckage, my squad on hand to stop this refused to move and handed the game to Simon as the clock struck for time. With the help of the PzIII and an extra turn or two I might have took the middleground but it was not to be this time.

My flamethrower gets the drop on the enemy ......... gah!
Just a hop, skip and a jump but no.

 Notable points in the game was the reluctance of two of my squads to turn up when I wanted them, my sniper who had failed sniper school and my flamethrower who forgot a match. Simon had some issues as well but not as bad as mine. The canisters which had been found and opened contained small arms ammunition, food and two had Iron Crosses for the gallant defenders, a fat lot of good. Anyway although a bit rusty we had a good game and it was an interesting scenario.

I had said that 2020 was to be my terrain year, but in the last few months I have completed a lot of terrain items, most for the Eastern Front some of which at a pinch could be used in Normandy. I am not really sure what is left, hopefully I will get inspiration when the terrain book turns up. The Dacha's as I said are a bit on the small side but nice kits, the windmill is huge and it takes real care not to hit the bleedin' big arms, it may be a nightmare on the table, nevertheless it is an impressive kit. The buildings got watered coats of paint over a grey primer, the windows were painted and drybrushed separately so no big deal there. The windmill was simply grey primer drybrushed with an off white and then an olive green, I have not yet put on the sails and my not do so, we will see.

I have also finished a bunch of sandbag defences and some hasty works/barricades, the former simply painted, washed and drybrushed, the latter pretty much the same but with oil cans, metal parts etc. picked out. What now, perhaps some civilians, more low walls and trees, I got some rail track and may raise this rather than leave it as is, so maybe a signal box at some point. As for soldiers, still no idea where to go from here but whatever happens I have no plans to buy any for a month or two.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Sunday Morning up with the lark...

Not early but probably earlier than most on a Sunday, I put the finishing touches to the two latest kits the Tiger II and Flakpanzer IV. They have been sitting around for a while as I concentrated on my terrain for the Eastern Front campaign, but in the last few days I have got to them and now they are complete.

The Tiger II was from Warlord and has been built as a vehicle from Heavy Tank Battalion 505 which was an army unit and served exclusively on the Eastern Front starting with Kursk in 1943 and ending the war in East Prussia in 1945. The paint pattern is called 'ambush' and there are several different variants of it. I can now put a little Kampfgruppe together from a heavy tank battalion with a Tiger I, Tiger II, and support from the PzIIIN and the Wirbelwind, now that would be a nice fight.

The second kit was of course the Wirbelwind and it was from Rubicon, a very nice kit and went together fine, do remember if you get it to paint the inside of the turret first also the inside of the top part, which I of course didn't think of until I had to put it together. The camouflage scheme is generic and the number a guess, actual photos show most without markings and the odd few with numbers.

With the tanks sorted I popped out to the supermarket for one item, got stuck behind a couple buying 'his and hers' and taking all morning as if the assistant was there merely to see to their wishes, then as I closed in on the till, an old dear butted in front and asked for her receipt which she had forgotten five minutes ago! To top it all as I put the Ghost into reverse I saw a woman standing behind me beckoning her husband to come through and pick her up while stopping me moving.

Back at Casa Anderson I started a batch of priming, new buildings and some hasty works. I had built the Sarrissa Russian windmill this morning before breakfast and it does look impressive, so much so that the little Dacha's beside it looked tiny and out of scale. I wondered if I had ordered the 20mm version or been sent them instead of the 28mm, I checked the size on the site and my buildings were short. I went back to the site but no, they were only available in 28mm, but they did not measure up, ah, the measurements include the slanted roof and are not for the ground taken up by the walls/floor, very strange. It will also be impossible to get a full Russian squad in the building, it really is small but has more windows than you can shake a stick at, a very nice kit but I felt it could have been a tad larger.

So in the coming week I will be painting the buildings and entrenchments, no big hurry as they are merely add ons for the terrain I have, I think I need some farm animals.

Before I go we had our annual club meal on Friday night, it was a really good evening and as ever with these guys a good laugh There are a bakers dozen regulars at the club and only three missed out. We all had to take a pencil as Julian had a little game for us involving sending Elves out to work to earn cash, think of Fagan as Santa Claus. Thankfully we played before large quantities of alcohol were consumed but even so I was completely lost, and didn't win.

 I almost forgot the most important news, a totally unexpected honour from the Post Office for twenty years of dedicated service and hard work, now before you all send cards in there is another Warton Post Office about forty miles away............

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Here is one (or two) I forgot earlier.

In all the excitement of having a Chain of Command weekend a couple of things got left behind, the main one of which was a game I had the Thursday before. Julian Lopez, who is the World Champion at Art de la Guerre Ancient/Medieval rules and a local when not travelling, emailed and asked if I was up for a game during the Holidays not ADLG but a new set by the same people, my French can get me a coffee, beer or directions to the train station but I think they were Battle (for) Europe, the English language version is not out yet.

Anyway I turned up and we were fighting a game based loosely on the Battle of Fleurus in 1794, I was the Austrians and Julian the French, it was a simple stand up fight with the basic rules. The units generally had four stands with single figures depicting skirmishers, the Austrians had none but they did have battalion guns, the cavalry were either six or eight figures if memory serves, each division had a leader and there was an overall commander. You put an order chit down for your division, Attack, Hold, Reserve etc. and normally you take it in turn to move a division, there are ways to activate all your divisions before the enemy. You also roll for 'pips' and these determine how many units within the division you can move, this is also reflected in the troop and commander quality. Combat is quite simple and brief, once you reach so many casualties depending on the type of unit it disperses i.e. 2 for skirmishers, 4 for infantry, movement is equally simple and fluid and you get a ruler with the game.

The game is designed to be played in three hours so it will fit in well with ADLG which is a very popular competition game, which is why Julian is World Champion and not simply UK champion, it is also played on a 4x2 foot area. How it would scale up for some of the larger Napoleonic battles I don't know, also I like a nice, big table with nice terrain, this does not seem to be a priority on the competition scene for obvious reasons. I enjoyed the game and would play again, I wouldn't invest in it though, it is just not for me nor do I need another period.

How did the game go you ask, well sit back and I'll tell you. my first look at the table found me thinking I would advance my right against a hill and wood which the French would obviously sit on or in, I intended simply to shoot them out of the terrain. I would hold in the centre and left. Julian obviously intended to overwhelm me and came on at a good pace, as the smoke settled I found my centre had held and my left had roundly defeated the French opposite, it was time to roll up the enemy line as his right hand division retreated. I found that my command throws were not good throughout the game and I got an inordinate number of 1's, also my cavalry had left its elan back in Vienna and failed to beat their opponents in several charges despite outnumbering them. Overall however my infantry in the centre held and my boys on the left were victorious and opened up the French flank. Time was up and as the points were added up it was a full on Austrian victory. Now as the points were added up it at first seemed there was not much in it, but looking from a generals point of view the French were definitely on the way out with their centre shattered and their right retreating, well that of course was from my viewpoint.

The battle begins.

The French come on in the same old style.
My centre about to be tested.
French attack halted and my left advances.

I finished up a couple of Charlie Foxtrot minefields after the village, I had seen these on Colin's site and simply took the idea from there, a shell hole, barbed wire and although you get loads of signs in the pack I printed some off in colour. I had made up some cardboard pieces with barbed wire but found them to be rubbish bases, these were to double as a minefield and hasty defenses, Colin kindly cut me some MDF to use instead, I will get round to these later.

I am very busy with maps at the moment and have a large project to finish so have got several wargame issues on hand, the King Tiger, the Wirbelwind and three MDF kits from Sarrisa for the Ostfront just to add some diversity (10 points for slipping that word in). I have had to build the Wirbelwind turret and paint the crew first before getting on with painting the full vehicle otherwise with the slanted turret it would have been impossible or a complete mess. Hoping to get back to 'normal' in a week or so.

No club last night either, again due to having to do some 'overtime' on the Atlas project, Club annual meal on Friday then Bolt Action next Tuesday if all goes to plan.