Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Albertines and Edwardians

Club night and one of the coldest I was told, it was a bit parky but slowly getting lighter, I prefer night to be night, 2000hrs lights out. Anyway I travelled light as Rob had agreed to put on a Very British Civil War game and all I needed was a ruler and dice.

Stuart and Rob shocked all by turning up early, and here was me looking forward to getting my feet up for a few minutes after a hard day in the PO. The terrain was set up, we had four players and the scenario was laid out, an Anglican League (Andy) train full of ammunition was making its way across Cumbria, Albertine forces (Simon) low on ammunition and erstwhile allies of the Anglicans wanted a share. The 'bad' guys loyal to the rightful king (Rob and myself) wanted to stop the train.

I had at my disposal a sour German squad loaned by that Mr. Hitler, a boisterous American squad (over here and overpaid) and a bunch of Britain's finest constabulary, all led by a Naval chap of upstanding character, he had two aides, one who would only work with the Germans and one who would only work with the British. I started in the opposite corner from the train with a large professional enemy force to my front, I decided not to engage them and leg it towards the train and help Rob as this was our main objective. I left the Germans cowering behind a wood just to secure my flank, my boys took some hits but managed to get into a decent position to open up on the train. This by the way had broken down and was being hastily repaired by some engineers who were taking a fair bit of casualties.

Splendid looking chap.
The wonderful train.
 Some cavalry turned up, I got the Leven's Hall Hussars which did me no good whatsoever stuck in the corner and they soon fled never to be seen again, a combination of bad dice and casualties. Andy's cavalry had a much better time of it and ran down and over the Manchester Scottish on our left flank. I had been prepared for this and my Yanks opened up on the lancers flank and they too hightailed it from the area. My Peelers were in a good position now to open up on the repair crew, just as I got the last man he flicked a switch (?) and the train began to move. The crises was approaching, Rob had lost most of his men by this time and the train began to build up speed, I heroically flung my men at the thing as it rumbled past, two failed to get a grip, two more fell under the wheels but six stalwarts mounted the engine. Simon had a lot of men lining the track and I thought he too would try and board, so I asked my men to hand me all their grenades with the intention of throwing them into the engine and jumping, they declined. Instead I increased speed hoping to derail the infernal machine on one of the bends. Simon got his main character on board and as Andy's men stood about in awe of his wondrous moustache instead of shooting him as I urged he began to heave ammo crates out the door.

The game begins.
Andy's brave but doomed lancers.
 The train failed to jump the rails so I again asked for the grenades and this time hurled them into the flames and leapt off, Simon got his man off as well as disaster loomed, we all suffered broken legs/arms as a consequence, as to Andy's men in the doomed machine, who knows. Both Simon and I were awarded laurels for our efforts. What about the Germans you ask, well once Simon had moved most of his men towards the centre of the table the Krauts attacked, I had not realised how much firepower they had with their machine pistols otherwise might have used them earlier. They were supposed to act in concert with the useless cavalry but the latter left them high and dry, only their machine guns keeping them safe, they did however take their own sweet time gunning down the opposition who annoyed me by passing every morale test.

My Coppers and Yanks with the BBC turning up for my licence.

There were some lovely pieces on the table, the train, the armoured car (again useless) and a load of wonderful characterful figures. Next week the Sea Wolf is back scouring the Seven Seas bringing fear and death to the enemies of his Britannic Majesty.

Despite my misgivings from last year I am going to Vapnartak, weather permitting, I have a list of things I need and things I want so it is a shopping expedition in the main.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Why Wargaming 8

It has been nearly five years since I looked at my journey through life from a wargaming perspective, I used the fatal words of 'almost perfect' when I signed off last time, have things lived up to that, we will see.

I had found War and Conquest and dipped my foot into traveling twice a year for games with new people and different armies, the rules reminded me of years of happily playing WRG 4th, 5th and 6th editions before 7th basically killed the community. The latter were seen as a move forward in wargaming mechanics and bringing the genre up to date, what it did of course was ruin what probably thousands of people worldwide saw as good fun just to be different, that trend continues. I digress, back in 2015 I was talking about maybe building another two armies, I built another three. I got three good years out of the WAC weekends before they folded, they did so for quite a few reasons, politics and personalities being first and foremost, a real shame, I did make some good friends out of it and we keep up through Social Meedja on a regular basis.

War and Conquest took up a good few years of my time, weekends away and as I said the building of three new armies. I made an effort to continue the weekends here at Casa Anderson as I have the room and could easily place four and at a stretch five 6'x4' tables in a 'closed for the weekend' Post Office, but that was a failure. I did however manage one small WAC weekend last year and also a Bolt Action weekend and both were a delight, I also managed some solo visits by friends which also were a joy, these along with my son have kept the home front going.

The club continues to scratch my wargaming itch and I can immerse myself with like minded individuals who know just how important the hobby is to we few, we happy few, this will continue as long as the club meets up on a Tuesday, no matter which games are being played.

With regular WAC games gone and no need to add more armies I looked around for something else to do and if you remember I was going to jump into Muskets and Tomahawks, for some reason this became completely skewed and I went for the Seven Years War about which I knew and still know very little. As I normally do I jumped in with two feet without thinking, I got rules and troops, I always need both sides and chose British and French, I painted up two small forces to try out Honours of War and then .... everything stopped for tea. I wondered what was I doing building up a large horse and musket force when I had between 4-5000 15mm ACW figures which hardly saw the light of day, how many times would I get the SYW boys on the table. I got an attack of commonsense and called a halt, for now at least.

This of course did not stop me adding more wargame figures to my collection, I then spent much of 2019 adding to my WWII terrain for Normandy, I now went a bit crazy and added more troops and vehicles, a lot of vehicles, especially German. Because I have been drawing maps and reading quite a bit on the Eastern Front I jumped for a Russian force, I tried to fight this urge and convinced myself it would be my 2020 project, but as 2019 waned my Russians were ready. I don't get a lot of WWII gaming in so why, why not came the reply, the same voice is telling me to get Volksgrenadiers next and up my Waffen SS squads into a full platoon, I do have plenty of British and Russians in case you call me out for lack of diversity.

My collection taking over the Post Office, more in the house.
 So the club is going well, home games not so much, I never seem to get enough, and it is the latter which is causing me to pause and take stock, I can still concentrate on terrain, especially for WWII for this year at least, but I do have to ask myself should I spend more money on forces which might only get used once in a blue moon. The money I have no problem throwing at suppliers due to the Legendary Map Fortune, it is the actual gaming side which has yet to catch up with the logistics or will I just never get enough, the latter might be truer.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Scraping the barrel

I turned up at the club expecting to be playing Black Powder Napoleonics as Stuart was organising a game, I turned up to find Stuart had brought General d'Armee instead, I used to have a set of General d'Brigade deluxe edition but never played them and passed them on to a mate. It was a big game and each of us commanded five infantry battalions, two cavalry units and two gun batteries, there was a lot of nice stuff on the table.

There is a fair bit of die rolling before you get to move your troops, like most games, you can muck this up and not move at all. You also roll for ADC's these are pips which allow you to do things, it completely baffled me and I never really got it. My end of the table only managed a couple of charges and not much shooting so I can't really comment on these, my opposite number, Rob, failed command rolls and didn't get moving until well in to the game, I had bad reinforcement dice and rough terrain to traverse so we didn't get very close. There was quite a bit happening at the other end of the battlefield which meant we were left on our own until we could question rulemaster Stuart. I believe the rules are popular but I cannot really say as this was a first foray.

Next week Rob is putting together a Very British Civil War type game, so probably some good fun wedded to many shabby tricks allowed to the players.

I am down to literally scraping the barrel, I have no figures to paint and to while away my time I dug out these crates and barrels and set them up for scatter terrain, I think they all came from Debris of War and I had left them so long because they are large pieces, but no point in having them in the drawer. Still undecided whether to go to Vapnartak, 60/40 for, I do have a list just in case.

 Seemingly our guest bedroom which gets used once in a blue moon is in vital need of having a ton of money spent on it and I had been totally unaware. Every time my missus gets an idea it always means I have work to do, I spent Monday night dismantling wardrobes and taking doors off to move old furniture into the back cupboard, I am sure she thinks the cupboard is the Tardis. Yesterday it was the old bed, needless to say I did not have the right spanner so I reached for my new tool and sorted the problem very quickly. The real workers have now turned up and I am hiding in the PO out of the way and doing a Pontius Pilate on the proceedings.

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.