Thursday, 29 August 2019

Much ado about nothing

Not a lot to blab about today, I didn't attend the club this week as I decided to get on with some bits and pieces which had been building up, not so much wargaming but those things which get you nagged at by a certain person. Rob was running a Cruel Seas game and I have to admit although I love the small ships it is not something I would run out to play, so I gave it a miss. I managed the small jobs and banked the brownie points for use later.

I never learn and have jumped into Chain of Command with both feet, luckily I have all the troops I need so it is the peripherals which are costing me, a bit like cream cakes, I don't need the stuff but I want it. So I got some Allied and German dice with pretty symbols for the six to use as command dice to save them getting mixed up with the 'killing' dice, not that I have done this so far but hey they have symbols on them. I actually have a set of 2nd Panzer dice which came all the way from Australia but no, they wouldn't do and no, I cannot explain it.

Next up was Too Fat Lardy markers, I am more than happy with my Patrol markers but not so with my homemade tactical ones, so I ordered them up. It didn't stop there, I needed more Jump Off Points, I have three already but when Stewart comes over I will need to provide three more and as I was impressed with the other Stuart's JOP's when playing Operation Martlett I ordered up some characters from Black Tree Design to make little vignettes. I have now heard that BTD are pretty bad at getting stuff out quickly and by that I mean more than a couple of weeks, we will see. This has also meant throwing more money at Warbases, I only have one 50mm base for the JOP's so need more, no, I won't use the 60mm bases!

I have managed at last to clear the decks and get on to those two SYW battalions which have been sitting in the drawer. I have started with the British Grenadiers, I have also used a Contrast red on the coats, I like it, it is not as bright as Vallejo flat red but it is probably more akin to the brick red of the original coats. I am wondering whether I should shelve the SYW until next year and perhaps get some Russian forces for WWII, my thinking being that although I have enough for a small game of Honours of War I do wonder when I will be able to get it on the table if I don't do it solo. This brings me also to think how many games will I manage if I build them up to Black Powder numbers, have I done the right thing bearing in mind I have two huge ACW armies sitting in boxes who are lucky to come out once a year.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Even Stephen's

Although I bemoan my lack of wargaming on reflection I do OK, I just would like to do more, I have just been through to Stewart's for some X-Wing action to balance the scales somewhat as he is happy to play historical most of the time here at Casa Anderson. Coming up along with Club nights is a War and Conquest Sunday, it was to be a weekend but I cannot commit next month to two days, so Mark Walker is making the long trip up from Leicester, a keen player considering the state of the roads. I also have Stewart coming over for Chain of Command, so not bad really. My mate Billy in Scotland has built himself the wargaming equivalent of the Wolfschanze in his garden and is open for games, I was hoping to get up this month or next but real life has interfered, however it is always an option, maybe in October.

Enough, what about the games, on arriving my grandson James was in the huff as he was not being allowed to play with Dad and Papa, so I offered him a game if he put a smile on his face, no, larger boy. Needless to say he won and went off happy with promises of more games later.

I left everything to the last minute as usual despite having time on my hands so I copied some Rebel lists from the internet, the first had a mixture of craft, a Hwk, X-Wing, Headhunter and a Y-Wing up against Scum with a Firespray and two little things Kom'rk's I think. Anyway before we go any further I am usually just target practice for Stewart as I am not a great or good player at this, this was going to show in the game as the build I had 'stolen' was far too complicated for my skills, it did look good but needed an above average player to pull it off, not me. The game lasted a lot longer than I thought and there came a point where if I had made a better decision and not rolled such lousy dice I may have went on to win, but it was not to be and although I cut the enemy forces down to two ships my four went south eventually in quick succession.

I think this is where I screwed up in the first game.

That is a Ukrainian Air Force colour scheme on the Hwk.

In the second game I took a force more suited to my talents and not overly complex, two B-Wings, the Hwk and an X-Wing, I was against the Empire this time with two Defenders and an Interceptor. Again it was not a quick game and Stewart started off well but this time my dice were a lot better and I saved quite a few shots, there was also a lot of ships in a small space so at times some could not get a shot off, this was better for me than the bad guys. I tried to pull my B-Wings out to medium range in order to use their laser cannons but was followed closely by the Defenders. By sheer accident I had managed to get all my ships with firing arcs on the Defenders and my dice eventually came through, both ships went up in bright explosions, I think both Stewart and I were a bit stunned, he got his last shots off  with the Interceptor which failed to bring down the badly damaged X-Wing so we called it a day, one each, result!

It was 1700 hrs so we popped along to the pub for the Recrimination Phase before I motored home, I had to have a shandy as they had no zero beer, every big brewer now has zero beer, my favourite at the moment being Peroni but still some pubs don't get it. I must admit I felt like throwing caution to the wind and having several pints of ale just like the old days but no, besides I was driving.

So, as I sit here on this beautiful day what's next, nothing today, a walk along the prom in Morecambe to take in the sea breeze, nothing tomorrow either as you cannot go anywhere in the Lake District during a holiday unless you want to spend the day in traffic jams, looking for parking, or jostling through crowds in the heat. So getting some SYW troops ready for priming and sinking some cool Peroni's are the order of the day.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Attack, nope.

Out to an almost empty club last night, only a boardgame and my game of Chain of Command, most of the troops are on R&R I believe.

So, I wanted to play a game of CoC, it was not serious and was merely a training game for both Simon and I, my games with Stewart went fairly quickly but then he has been playing the game for some time, so this would be very different.

We rolled a dice for the scenario and got an Attack and Defend situation, I was the attacker and had to force Simon's Russians from the table or capture the very end house. I took a StuG III, and an infantry gun along with an adjutant for my supports, the main troops were an infantry platoon, Simon had Soviet infantry along with a flamethrower (natch), a heavy machine gun and a 37mm anti-tank gun, a pretty little thing.

I hastily brought on a squad and put them on the front line behind a hedge, a mistake as it turned out, Simon then managed to get two squads and the HMG on, these gave my boys a lot of hurt. I then managed to get the StuG on but it couldn't hit a barn door, we have been here before. The 37mm coughed and came close to damaging my tank, I was a bit perturbed, I then forgot to bring my infantry gun on. My squad was now dangerously reduced by the weight of fire turned on it, and I did not want to bring another squad on to suffer the same fate. Shortly after this I did get the infantry gun on along with a squad which I put in the house, the gun also seemed to make a half hearted effort to kill Russians.

Survivors (forgot my JOP) so used Patrol Marker.

Everything but decent ammo.
 I then lost my first squad and its Junior Leader and suffered a downshift on the Force Morale table. My supports were failing to put any hurt on the Russians and we ran out of time. Disappointing from a tactical point of view but I had played it wrong rushing my squad on and not putting them on Overwatch, this allied to my useless supports meant I was going nowhere, Simon got a squad on his left and took the hill so my options were severely limited over the open ground. We did spend a bit of time with our noses in the rule book but that was to be expected, we did some things wrong and I still have to check a couple of things up.

I thought I had an up to date rule book but on reading the Errata found that only small changes had been made and I had to type up several paragraphs to add or change, they are now in the rear of the book with pointers in the main book. There is a lot to remember in this game.

Now just for fun I have quickly drawn the battlefield below with houses, hedges, cornfields and one hill, black circles are German JOP's and red Russian, if you are a CoC player what would you have done? Bear in mind if the supports had been even average it may have been a walkover (thinks wishfully). I now wonder if I should have used only three Patrol Markers which would have let me move much further forward and may have knocked the Russian JOP's further back as I got three free moves.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Georges le constructeur

With almost all of my buildings on largish scenic bases I find it a challenge to make up some of the maps associated with Chain of Command campaigns, my recent experience of Operation Martlet led me to ordering up two 'stand alone' buildings with small bases to add to my Normandy collection. I chose Charlie Foxtrot models as I know Colin and have gotten 97% of my stuff from him so far, the kits are easy to build and lend themselves to upgrading and personal touches.

I have watched Lardy TV and Richard Clarke building and converting a Dark Ops blacksmiths, beautiful but too much effort for me, however I decided to try my had at plastering. Normally I simply paint and brush in some fine sand which works very well. So off I trotted to B&Q or some such hell hole (for me) for a couple of tester paints, a small trowel and a tube of filler. Imagine how perplexed I was when I saw many testers not in pots but in a sealed unit with a sponge on the end, duh. I did manage thankfully to find some tins, so I was set up.

My first efforts on Dormer House 2 do not look great, the areas around the dormer windows and chimney stacks were difficult, I now realise I should have given them a rub with some sandpaper just to take the edges off but, yes, no patience, but also I only have very rough sandpaper in the shed which would not have done. Next up I painted the building in Good Home's Chueca, not a clue what that is, then lightened it a couple of times and drybrushed the large areas, next I weathered the corners etc with Vallejo German Biege. The roof I tiled with Warbases tiles (I think), Colin also does tiles and I have used them in the past but these are smaller and I like that. Vallejo Burnt Red and weathered with Stone Grey and then a light brush of green, any green is fine, I tend to use a dark green. That was it, Colin sorted me out with a small base so some sand and flock, tufts and flowers and hey presto.

The second building was the Cafe de Normandie which is located in Carentan, the kit has some nice lines on the bottom level and a lovely etched sign, so naturally I decided to cover all these up and make my own sign. I had to do this as again I was using filler, perhaps I could have been tidier around the sign but my skills would probably not be up to it. My plastering had improved this time. For a change I painted the lower level a different colour, Good Home's Cordoba and used Chueca again for the rest, the weathering was the same as above although I used Stone Grey on the shutters etc. A quick look online got me the posters which always seem to add character. Colin had put a small patio on this base for me so I felt it needed tables and chairs, I got these from 4Ground and I have to say I am disappointed in them, they are very flimsy compared to some I got for my Dead Man's Hand game but I forgot where I got them. I slathered them in glue and spray paint to try and give them some body but I am not sure it will work. I don't want to glue them to the patio because that's the first place a squad of men will hide and again I am sure they will simply collapse, but for now they look good, vin anyone?


So there we are, probably the last buildings I shall add to my Normandy set up apart from some scatter, glasshouses, sheds etc. A big thanks to Colin for the extra effort.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Up, up and away!

Club night again and Wings of War. A long time ago I mucked about with the bases and added magnets and glued everything together, this was a mistake as I now need a large, deep box to hold the stands and it is a hassle finding what I want in the box, I have around 50 models. The last time I had them out I dropped the box so had to spend an evening sorting and gluing everything before packing up last night. I digress, for a change I decided to let the Armee de l'Air take to the skies against the LuftstreitkrƤfte, I also wanted the Germans to use their legendary triplanes and Albatross scouts.

My flight.
Simon's flight.
Rob's flight.

There were three of us and Simon and I were the Germans, we had one triplane and two Albatross each, a mixture of DIII's and DVa's our job was to prevent the French bombing a target behind our lines. Rob, the Frenchie, had a Spad and two Breguet 14's, if a plane was shot down it was resurrected in the next turn and started on the table edge, the French would not know how successful their bombing mission was until they returned to base.

I thought Rob had a difficult mission but as it turned out he had more than enough firepower to tackle six enemy aircraft. As the French approached on course for the target the Hun's fell on them, guns chattered and a wild dogfight ensued, the result of which was that the two bombers fell from the sky taking one of my Scouts with them, I am unsure when Simon lost a plane as I was trying to control my own planes. 

Goering and Richthofen get in a tizz.
 The second wave of bombers came on and somehow another Spad arrived, perhaps I felt sorry for Rob, another mistake, the Spads turned out to be a thorn in our sides as we concentrated on the bombers. This time however they got through and unloaded over the target, soon after one of them spiraled earthwards as did  two of my scouts. This may have been fortunate for the new fighters came on in an excellent position to intercept the returning bomber. Simon's planes had been concentrating on the rear bomber and when it went down found himself well behind the one heading for home with no real chance to catch it. It was down to me, I flew my damaged Fokker triplane out of the way and sent my two Albatross' after him, I flew very badly and my pilots had to spend their time trying not to collide rather than shooting at the bomber. I eventually managed to get one shot off as the Frenchie flew to safety, an exciting chase.

The Frenchie makes a break for home.
Too little, too late.

Rob had made it by the skin of his teeth and my rashness sending two aircraft into the same airspace, it turned out one point of damage would have seen his badly damaged crate fall to earth, it was now time to see if his mission had been successful, Sacred Blue, yes! A great night and a nail biting finish, perhaps I should book another Tiger Moth flight.

I have started work on my two new Charlie Foxtrot buildings, this time I have skimmed the first with plaster, I have painted the walls now and will work on the windows, doors and roof hopefully tonight. I am unsure whether I shall plaster the second building.

I also received my two grenadier battalions from Front Rank yesterday, so these are up after the buildings. I also ordered up three more books, my ready use locker of books will then number seven, so I better get a move on. The news books are Rod Liddle's "The Great Betrayal" and two from Mark Bowden "Hue 1968" and "The Last Stone", Mark wrote the excellent "Black Hawk Down".

I almost forgot, do you sit and ruin movies for your better half by insisting that that armour is too late, too early, the uniform is wrong, the tank is a fake, they just didn't fight like that etc. Then have a shufty at this interesting little piece, it doesn't let the movies/TV off completely to my way of thinking but the guy does have a point.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Imperial War Museum Duxford

As you know I went to Duxford to take a Tiger Moth flight, but I didn't mention much about the museum so here we go.

The place is easy to get to but if you come in from the South the Sat Nav puts you in front of the Staff entrance, the real entrance is just a bit further up the road. On arrival the first thing I noticed was the throbe of a real aeroplane engine, I espied what looked like a P40 Warhawk or Kittyhawk taxing for take off, a splendid start. Because I had a flight booked I got in free and the family was half price, another good start.

Once through the shop we were on the airfield, it is a sprawling set up with several large hangers containing either aircraft or exhibitions, there are two new buildings at the far end, one contains American aircraft and the other tanks. The main point of Duxford is that all the aircraft can fly or are in the process of being restored to flying condition and there are some real treasures in the hangers. On the runway taking off at different times of the day but always giving the crowd something to look at were several marks of Spitfires, Warhawks and Mustangs along with several trainers and the Tiger Moths. Also sitting there and instantly recognisable to all of us who saw the Battle of Britain film years ago was one of the Spanish built but Merlin engined Bf109's or the HA-1112. I loved it, especially when one or sometimes two of these roared around the airspace climbing, looping the loop and diving for our entertainment.

Two things to avoid, the 'Simulator' which is basically a box which moves while showing you a very blurry video, you do not get to fly anything and the whole thing is bereft of any sense of excitement. Also I found it strange that the box art was all Spitfires but you are shown the video from the seat of a 109. Next to the box is a line of airliners which, if you want to walk in them costs you a fiver, why would you pay a fiver to walk along an aisle on a plane, robbery. I can't be sure but it may have been a fiver for each aircraft!

I did not have time to see all the exhibits having spent time getting something to eat, what I did see in the hangers I enjoyed, especially the excellent American exhibit. I would certainly recommend a visit here but bring your own lunch.

Most of the photos are from the American exhibit, the only reason I can think for this is that the aircraft in the hangers looked more like works in progress and workhorses and the planes here were actually spruced up and on show.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Murder in the Woods

Club night and summer continues to be rubbish, warm enough but grey and still lots of rainclouds and as we say north of Hadrians Wall "the nights are fair drawing in". No matter, Rob served up another Muskets and Tomahawks game and this time I went out on a limb and took charge of a bunch of eco friendly First Nations, no only kidding, a large blood curling war band of Red Indians hell bent on murder and mayhem. The scenario was simple, there were a couple of bunches of civilians roaming aimlessly in the woods and we had to either capture them (Rob) or kill them (me).

I found myself up against Simon and his Irregulars, in keeping with my character I decided simply to bludgeon my way forward, this plan was scuppered in that the Yanks managed to leap across the table at a great rate of knots and give the civvies protection before we got close. The second turn also seemed to favour the Yankees although Rob assured me we had activation cards somewhere in the deck.

Nonetheless I did manage to threaten Simon's right flank and after letting loose with a few good volleys I threw my warriors into close combat, these were bloody results for both of us and the American allied chieftain and his men bit the dust as did quite a few Irregulars along with a lot of my braves. Over on my right the Jocks were commanded by Rob and were taking a pounding from the Americans on that flank, nothing was going right for Rob or the devils in skirts. My attacks had however frightened Simon and he led his group of civilians out of harms way and I had pushed him almost back to the table edge, but I had run out of steam, Rob likewise. I only managed to take down the odd civvy with my long arms but not enough to come close to victory. Time was up and that was that, another bit of fun and an enjoyable evening. Elsewhere we had a boardgame, some Bloodbowl, X-Wing and a Chain of Command campaign game.

I have continued to add bits and pieces to my WWII forces, to add to the smoke markers I made explosion markers with clump foliage and BBQ skewers, sprayed with black and then a dusting of grey. I noticed that I could also use some minefields, these are six inch squares in CoC so I dug out some old cardboard which the Post Office always has in abundance and cut out eight lengths with pointy ends. I then stuck bits of matchsticks on them before dipping them into my Sharp Sand tray, after this a coat of Vellejo Flat Earth, then two drybrushes with Gold Brown and Dark sand, the matchsticks I painted with Panzer Aces New Wood. Next up was flocking, flowers and tufts then I added some 'barbed wire' which I had given a wash with MIG Dark Rust. This only left an internet search for suitable signage for minefields which I printed out and stuck to more matchsticks and voila. Not perfect but perfectly presentable I think.

So what's next, well I have two more buildings coming from Charlie Foxtrot which I will put on smaller bases to make them easier to fit in for scenarios as most of what I have now have rather large yards. Colin at CF is doing bases for me and has also offered to 'pave' them, great guy.

I completed the great wargame survey being done by Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy in order to get the free tank commander sprue from Rubicon with four excellent sculpts on it, a terrific gesture from those guys. I have to use my code in the next day or so but am toying with getting a couple of vehicles along with it, I just have to make my mind up which.

Stuart, whom I have been playing Chain of Command with has some really imaginative Jump Off Points and although I have some of the usual oil cans/crates etc. I really want to try and get something like Stuarts, so I am looking out for character figures for WWII.

This all means of course that the SYW is getting left behind, I plan to order more troops for September.

I am a big Seinfeld fan and have all the Seasons which I watch every so often, I started again from the beginning a few weeks ago. There is a particular episode in which Elaine eats Jujyfruits and I always wondered what they tasted like, my son was in the US recently and guess what.......

And like most sweets, you only get so many of the one which you like the best, the black one!

Monday, 5 August 2019

View From The Window

My sons have given me some excellent presents recently, I got Tankfest last year which was incredible and a great weekend and then I got a ticket for a flight in a Tiger Moth at Imperial War Museum Duxford, I had obviously been waxing lyrical about my admiration for WWI pilots. We had organised another family gathering so I ordered my flight up for the Sunday on the way home. The big day came and my granddaughter told everyone that Papa looked nervous and she was afraid for him which did nothing for the butterflies in my stomach as I pooh poohed such questions as "do you get a parachute" "what if it crashes" etc. I wondered if just in case I should tell the Memsahib I love her before I took to the skies.

The big event was delayed by half an hour as a Spitfire and Messerschmitt buzzed the field followed by a Mustang and another Spitfire, I took it in my stride. Eventually I went for my briefing and got kitted out with my leather jacket (Tom Cruise eat your heart out), helmet and goggles, I was then instructed how to enter the airplane and to enjoy the trip. The cockpit was not large but once in there was quite a bit of room for my legs, not enough to stop the joystick hitting me in the thighs as my pilot, Bob, went through his checks, and then we were off, hurtling down, OK, speeding down the grass field. It was great, once up Bob explained everything very well, there are only about five dials and a joystick, he put the nose down and up a few times and then said I could do it, only use your thumb and two fingers she is very responsive, I think I did it fine although I am not sure it moved much, I could only think of me falling out of the sky and Bob shouting to stop. He then told me to turn, no that was too much, my son paid for the flight Bob, you fly. We then did a couple of tight turns to left and right, wow. I did take a few moments to try and look around for the Hun in the Sun, you really do not get to see much to the back, it was a real struggle to turn my head, the fuselage also reduced my forward visibility which I was surprised at and to get a clear look ahead you had to either dip the nose or look out the side, and if you did the latter the wind caught you. We landed successfully obviously and I had a new admiration for those blokes who flew machines like this in combat, a great experience.

My 'kite' waiting patiently.
Tartan Baron.

Now for the other stuff, why is our customer service so bad, we got lunch at Duxford and the canteen for that's what it was, restaurant was too posh a word, was not built on the premise that a lot of people would want to visit and perhaps eat there. I will digress here for a mo, warm, lovely day, hundreds of visitors and one ice cream van with one teenager in it! It took us a while to find a table, which as usual was dirty and had scraps on it, others still had the remains of meals on them. We found four seats and needed one more, however the people next to these seats had obviously bought a family ticket as it included Grandma, Grandad, boy and bag. I kept looking while Grandma did her best to ignore me clocking the seat with the bag, just as I was about to tell her to move it my son found another dirty table with no bags on it. The 'food' turned up, a lukewarm plate of pork hot pot for me with two buns akin to my ECW cannonball door stop and three fish and chips with Tartare Sauce literally ladled over the meals and some kind of potato mush and peas for the wee yin. Mrs A., fresh from a refund on her horrendous hotel breakfast went in to action and yes, another refund, leaving in her wake a surprised and chastened waitress whom she had passed talking about her attitude while on the way to attack the manager.

Bag on his way home without Grandma.
 Did I mention the expensive, quaint, country hotel was dirty, I wouldn't floor my shed with the reception area carpets, the actual room was so tired I heard it groan when we opened the door, thankfully it was clean otherwise we would have been gone.

We have brought our granddaughter back here for a week, so a stop on the motorway was required on the way home, the place was like a refugee camp. Kids have to have a meal in a bag with a toy in it, so we were forced to Burger King, one guy on putting meals together, one guy on the till and tens of customers waiting and baying for food, no one on table duty so I actually had to go and buy wet wipes so we could feel comfortable at the table.

 Can I also say that I am not letting off the great British public here either, it seems that the word Public translates thus; you can trash, litter, break and pee over anything which is not yours and someone else can clean it up.

Now, you are a Woke, global company and you want to show your climate change credentials and decide to discuss the 'emergency'. Do you invite eminent scientists from both sides of the spectrum to discuss sensibly whether or not we have an emergency or do you instead give Harry, Meghan, Katy Perry, Oprah Winfrey and such a platform to tell the plebs where they are going wrong and the sooner we all live in caves the better. Option 2 obviously.

Bare feet, he must know what he is talking about.
The bum is Katy Perry that well known scientist, what a shower, maybe that speed boat runs on grass.