Wednesday, 27 November 2019

The Sea Wolf Returns

Fairly quiet at the club last night, a Saga game, Age of Sigmar with some very strange figures but all beautifully painted, real works of art, a WWII boardgame which I think concentrated on logistics as the title was Quartermaster General and my own game with Black Seas.

Andy couldn't make it so there were three of us, the first scenario had a frigate and two brigs of the Royal Navy and La Royale (the Frenchies) bearing down on a Spanish treasure ship watering at an island. The Spaniard quickly recovered her crew and set sail with the weather gauge which meant she was coming straight at me, the French were struggling against the wind so I thought I would get in quickly, board and seize the filthy lucre, to this end I laid my two brigs alongside after first giving her several broadsides. The French now turned up and dealt out a lot of punishment to my starboard brig while most of her crew were in combat on the Spaniards deck, in the confusion the brig struck her colours but the Spaniards could not take advantage as my other brig now sent across her boarders. Within minutes the Spaniard was captured and the White Duster again run up on my second brig.

The Spaniard up anchors and I prepare to engage.
La Royale arrive.
 My frigate attempted to join the fray but the wind was against her and the rocky outcrops and sandbars of the island were too close and had to be avoided, she did manage to get hits on the French but nothing serious. The Spaniard manged to ungrapple and I decided discretion was the better part of valour and put a final broadside into her and sent her and the treasure to Davy Jones' locker, I then sped away as fast as I could as the wind had at last turned in my favour. Could have been better but one Spaniard down and no gold for Napoleon (spin is not new).

The second game had four Royal Navy brigs against two La Royale frigates, an interesting little battle. The Frenchies this time struggled to get around the island while we, with full sails closed the gap, paraphrasing Lord Nelson I could not go wrong if I put my ships to the Frenchies, Ian meanwhile wandered off to clear the rocks and sandbars. In a 'Nelson Touch' I ran my brigs through the French line and let off broadsides which raked the stem and sterns of both frigates, my shooting was spectacular as my veterans rained death and destruction on the French ships. I then received a reply and the French pounded one of my brigs mercilessly and she slipped beneath the waves, it was time for the Sea Wolf to 'leg it' in naval parlance.

Easy does it.
Now that's sailing.
 La Royale did not seem to want to put up a fight as they limped to the south, Ian had now tacked and caught up with them, cannonballs flew and destroyed bulkheads and crew, the captains of both French ships were killed along with a replacement officer as the veteran gunners of the Royal Navy found the range. The brigs like terriers continued to close with their wounded prey, one Frenchman had had enough and struck her colours, the other continued to fight. The Sea Wolf had now rejoined the battle, having cleared the decks of dead and wounded gunners, delivering several broadsides along with Ian's ships which sent the second frigate to a watery grave.

So there we go, two excellent little games, fast and furious, I had also worked out the wind rules which helped me enjoy the game more. This is far better than the WWII version for me and has an almost cinematic feel to it, we added one of the advanced rules this time where you could fire as you passed a ship rather than fire at the end of your movement, a very good rule. I don't know how a game with a full battlefleet will work but these small engagements typical of many during the wars are great fun.

I almost forgot, if you like to paint near your PC, as I think most of us do, and you like some mindless background try Strike Back, I am on Season 7 now and have enjoyed each one immensely. It must be targeted at young lads but it matures as it goes along and the story lines and twists and turns are first class. Warning, there are women in the team and you know how I normally feel about this, but hats off, these girls really look like they know their business for a change. Yes it's daft but it is great entertainment, well I enjoyed it, one word of warning, the first series is just OK, the rest are top notch.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Nelly the Elefant.

The last piece of the jigsaw puzzle for, hopefully, my upcoming campaign was a Jagdpanzer IV L70A, my knowledge of tanks etc. has jumped quite considerably in the past few months and I can now tell the difference between the Jagdpanzer IV L48, L70 and L70A for instance. As of this moment in time you cannot get an L70A in 1/56 so I settled for the L70 the difference being that the former had a larger fighting compartment fitted, much like some of the heavier Jagdpanzers. Anyway I noticed in the Warlord Black Friday sale that I could get some great prices on resin kits and jumped straight in giving myself an early birthday present from my oldest son, I let him know once the order was in, I saved him £16 which was a bargain.

I was never a fan of the Jagdpanzer IV, it just looked like a squat box, which of course it just about is, but once I had the model in my hand it looked quite nice. Very simple to put together, nicely molded with only one drawback, there was what looked at first to me as an extension to the front plate armour. It was only once I had primed and base coated the tank that I looked a bit closer at photographs. It shouldn't have been there so I had to cut it off, very strange.

The second kit was simply for pleasure, the huge Jagdpanzer Elefant, again this went together without any problems whatsoever and it does look good, big, chunky and dangerous although in hindsight a hideously waste of time and effort.

Both tanks got the usual base coat of Dark Sand, although I found quite a few nice paint schemes online I simply went for something easy, the smaller got a sponge dab with green and I left the larger one alone with only the base coat. A few decals and then some weathering finished both of them, I really like the way they have turned out especially the Elefant, seemingly this gun was known on occasion to knock out enemy tanks at up to 4000 meters, although 2000 was more normal. I should be able to knock out my opponents vehicles before they leave the house.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Lady in Green

I thought I would take a break from WWII last night so jumped for a game of Dead Man's Hand, I was offered a place in a Western Desert Battlegroup game which used Andy's vast collection of 20mm but declined. It may come as a shock but I think I am all painted out, I have completed what I wanted and although a couple of things remain they are not yet required, so I am going to take it easy now until the new year, still paint but slower.

Anyway back to last nights game, there were only two of us so within five minutes we came up with the 'Bounty Hunters', a dangerous female killer with a large price on her head was hiding in the town of Carefree and two different groups had decided to find and bring her in, alive and not dead or the bounty was nullified. To search a building at least three men had to enter and a die roll was made, whoever having initiative for that turn rolling first, a 1 or 2 on a D10 signaled success. The posse then had to get the prisoner off the opposite end of the table from the building she was found in.

As the game started four of the seven buildings were found to be empty, soon only two were left, Simon's men found Bella in the Aces High Saloon, a girl of low repute obviously as well as murderous tendencies. I had set up some riflemen on the roof of the Wells Fargo office and another near Halloran's Place while the rest of my gunfighters closed on the saloon, the rest of Simon's men now made a run to meet up with the guys holding Bella as they made for the stables and then hopefully a quick run across town to escape. Although my rifles swept the main street and hit quite a few times they could never get enough wounds to actually kill anyone, Simon was having our usual trouble with shotguns in that despite being fired at close range they never seem to hit anyone, this continued until Fat Pedro bit the dust and dropped his useless weapon.

Time was running out and Bella had manged to be dragged to the Livery while a large gunfight took place at close range just outside, when the dust settled Simon had lost three men and I had lost two. There was still all to play for and at least two more turns were needed to give a clear winner however the clock had struck 10 and we reluctantly packed up.

Although dreamt up on the hoof the game had turned out to be very good and exciting, it definitely needs to be played again. Elsewhere we had the usual Age of Sigmar along with Saga, Bloodbowl and the very nice Western Desert game.

I completed my latest Jump Off Points for Chain of Command a few days back, two German and one Russian, this now gives me three for each force, British, German and Russian. The figure sets are from Rubicon while the two dogs were extras in a Warlord pack, the bulldog is a bit big but hey no point sitting in a drawer. I mentioned before the maps which came in the Rubicon kit, as there were two I used the second on top of some spare fuel tanks for the Russian Marshals. I cannot shake the feeling that the Germans hovering over the map look more like little dolls than wargame figures, Ken without Barbie, I think it is down to the way the hands have been modeled.

The PAK 43 is on the tray and I have a forgotten Russian MMG in the drawer, two more vehicles are on the way but as I said above I am taking it easy with these for now and not rushing.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Little and Large

This collection now finishes all the armour choices required for my Russian Front campaign, which I am desperate to start but will have to be patient.

The little armoured car is a BA-64 with a camouflage pattern, this is unusual for Russian vehicles in WWII apart from being splashed with white during the winter months. Despite being flimsy over 9,000 of these were built and used for all sorts of jobs including officer transport, communications, infantry support and reconnaissance.

Next up and a bit bigger is the T70 light tank, mainly used for reconnaissance and rear area duties like guarding headquarters, it was not a very good tank and strangely for a scout vehicle was not very mobile, however as a stop gap machine there were a lot of them around. A Lieutenant Pavlovich in an engagement in 1943 knocked out four German tanks (one a Panther) with his little tank, a brave man. I have put some foliage on this vehicle, again to make it stand out and a few did attempt this kind of camouflage.

Now for the 'Beast' the large ISU-152, looking on the internet I found a lovely four colour camo scheme which would make this tank stand out on the tabletop, it was seen in the Ukraine and other places as the Soviets swept into Europe, again just something to break up the green ranks. I used Yellow Ochre, Black Grey, Cavalry Brown and Russian Green. I also managed to scrounge a couple of tank crewmen from somewhere and they fit perfectly in the large fighting compartment. I think one was from the BA-64 but there is no way a crew member would fit in that little turret alongside the machine gun.

Although that completes my Soviet forces for now Christmas and my birthday are coming, so I suspect we will see some more vehicles turn up, nothing I need but some I want. I was also informed of Warlord's Black Friday sale and the price cuts on their resin vehicles were too good to pass up, so on behalf of my oldest son I bought myself an early birthday present, an Elefant and Panzerjager IV. Will I ever get this lot on the table, who knows, maybe not, but I do like painting up these kits, a bit like when I was a kid building Airfix planes and hanging them from the ceiling.

Little and Large were a British comedy (and I use the term loosely) duo from way back, one of many who tried to emulate the success of Morecambe and Wise, which no one ever could.

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.