Saturday, 27 June 2020

The New Normal

No such thing, once again a week goes by where you need lawyers to work out who you can see or cannot see, whether you can get a haircut within shooting distance of an actual hairdresser and Elf 'n' Safety put out a 43 page tome on how to get a pint in a pub, and don't get me started on the other stuff.

No games at all this week, and at the beginning I finished off a little limber and it's handler for the Seven Years War, a grey blue limber so he will be British, I did want to put a rider on the horse but ordered the wrong horse, I don't think he would fit anyway as his legs would prevent the poles going along properly. With this complete I was left once again with nothing in the bottom of the barrel, I had ordered up a couple of buildings but was not sure when they would turn up. So, like a true wargamer I ordered up more guys I do not need. I decided on British paratroops as they would do for Normandy and the upcoming Lardy special on Arnhem so I got a full platoon and some supports from Artizan, they will be here next week.

While ordering the paratroops I also bit the bullet and got a railway station, a must really as mate Matt had given me a railway signal, it arrived yesterday. On Thursday my Russian Church turned up, I just thought it would complete my little village. The instructions I found a bit challenging, I glued pieces as shown only to turn the page and find I shouldn't have and now had a problem fitting parts in, yes I should have taken more care but I plunge ahead with MDF kits as if they are from Ikea. Another small bugbear is that the roof and other parts are very delicate and it would seem the laser sometimes went completely through and this caused me to have to glue pieces before I could glue them to the building, not many but a few. Now the good news, it is a very clever and beautiful kit, faithfully representing a wooden Russian village church, I am tempted go get some other buildings but having a complete village already I really cannot give in. My attempt I think is nice but I am sure someone with better modelling skills and more patience could really make this kit pop.

My son called me up as he has just finished painting and organising his study, he knows I have several military prints in storage at the moment because I do not have room for them all now that the Memsahib has banned them from the dining room so wondered if he could have a loan. My eventual plan is that they will all go up in my wargame room when I close the Post Office, so once he signs the papers he can have a couple. He reminded me he also has some ink drawings I did a long time ago which I had forgot I loaned in the mists of time, they too will have to come back.

I have completed my first map commission since the lockdown started, maps for the rebellions against Henry VIII in the West Country, nothing fancy but a start, I may be back on to the AWI atlas next month as well.

The Post Office is not busy at all at the moment, locals still have not grasped that I am open again in the afternoons so it is a long day, the missus has not deigned to do her bit yet and if she is happy in the garden then I shall suffer for her for a week or so yet, no, please, it's nothing. I may therefore get back to some solo gaming on a Thursday afternoon until some brave soul ventures into my den.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Another Introduction

Duncan came down yesterday for another game, eager to play any period, any army I decided to take him to the other end of the spectrum from WWII skirmish, a Dark Age battle Saxons vs Romano-British.

Duncan duly turned up at 12.30 and I took him through setting up a game and introduced him to the Romano-British, I had organised two forces at 2,000 points and to all intents and purposes each mirrored the other apart from the British having larger shields, a hangover from the Romans, so a typical Dark Age slog was on the cards. It takes a few games to work out how a system plays but these armies are far less complex than Romans or Seleucids to handle and using them is a good way to learn the rules.

On deployment I put my Hearthguard, Duguth and Pict warband in the front line, on the right I put mounted and foot skirmishers with my Ceorls at the end of the line also on the right. My idea was to assail the British left and then close with my main line, I would hold off attacking the hill until victory was assured. Duncan deployed with his cavalry and skirmishers on his right and the main battle line anchored on the foresaid hill, he had quickly grasped that the hill was good for him but I also knew that and would stay away until I felt an attack was warranted.

Saxons on the left, Romano-British on the right.

 With my left in the air I had to advance and also send my cavalry and Ceorls to defend that flank, my archers made an effort on my right and managed to have the British Pedyts chase them which kept them out of the main battle. Duncan struck first and his Welsh and a Milites unit crashed into my line, despite this my boys held and then routed the enemy within a turn or so, the Welsh ran first as my King and his bodyguard cut them down. The British Milites on the hill advanced to take on my Picts, the Jocks held but only just, however as the British leaders Comitatus had not advanced I was able to help the Picts by flanking the Milites and having failed their morale for being attacked in the flank the Milites were routed and dispersed.

The Romano-British cavalry had had to give up their attempt to flank my battle line as my cavalry got within javelin range and my Ceorls also arrived on the scene, both cavalry forces now set about each other with neither winning a victory. In the centre only the Dux and his companions were left almost surrounded on his hill, banner fluttering in the wind and disaster all around.

This game could have went either way with forces of the same ilk, my dice just happened to be better then Duncan's, also I had managed to hit the Welsh warband with my elite Gedriht who were more than a match for the Taff's. Duncan did manage to hit my warband but it held out long enough for support to come to its aid. I have know for some time that my warbands are not large enough and as they have no armour and only a shield they really suffer and do not get their warband advantage, I may have to look at recruiting more men.

What else this week, well I finished my terrain pieces, an oil tank, water tank, railway signal and fountain, I had hoped they would last me a bit longer but they were all simple builds and easy to paint. I do have some simple railway lines and am trying to find a ready made ballast, there is a foam type you can get which would be perfect but it seems to be sold out everywhere. This brings me on to getting a railway station, well if you have a signal you may as well get the station, no?

On the tray for now is one figure, a draught horse and a small Seven Years War limber, probably a couple of hours worth. I am getting a vision, it's coming closer, I can see it now......British Paras!

My followers have dropped from 80 to 79, has someone 'cancelled' me, have I been banished from the platform or whatever the expression is, has the train left without me? I have had a couple of run ins of late on Social Meedja so perhaps the mud slinging of me coveting weapons of destruction have stuck. Or perhaps the guy has just given up with Blogger, and why do I care because I am 67 and lived on a planet far far away........

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Lockdown Week ............... whatever.

What's happened this Groundhog Week, not a lot, I finished the Road to Bremen campaign and didn't want to start a new one as Duncan the Pakman (geddit?) wanted to be introduced to modern wargaming as he hadn't done anything since he was a teenager. I decided Bolt Action would be better than Chain of Command so got mate Matt to put an army list together for Normandy Germans that Duncan could use, I took the British, the forces were around 1,000 as when I looked at the 1200 point armies I decided they were too big for an intro game and cut out a few units on either side.

I chose a simple scenario from the rule book where a briefcase full of important papers had been left in a jeep in no mans land and both sides wanted to retrieve them. I haven't played BA for a while, maybe since last year so might have got some rules wrong but I made a mental not to look them up later as I didn't want to spend most of the game buried in the rulebook and put Duncan off. I decided to take things easy and then about mid game make a run for the jeep from an orchard I had been hiding behind, I made a small foray on my far left with one squad and a Sherman, to find myself in a duel with a Puma and a Marder IIIM, as usually happens with my armour the Sherman came off worse and duly exploded after initially having the turret jam. Duncan meanwhile had taken possession of a large building directly overlooking the jeep, he was a bit cautious of trying to get to the jeep and the squad he did send was none too keen and even less keen as casualties and pin markers climbed.

I now advanced all my troops and was getting close to the objective, however time was up and as the Puma ran riot in my rear area and the Marder moved to cover the jeep it was obvious I was not going to get the papers back, but also the Germans despite their armour also would not be able to reach the jeep, a draw.

We also managed a lot of chatting while playing the game and one of Duncan's friends turned up to tell him he was going to work on an engine recovered from a Russian BRDM personnel carrier, I think I have that right. He is perhaps going to replace the engine with an electric one and then hire it out as an eco friendly war machine. Thankfully the wargame did not put him off and he will be back at Casa Anderson for more games in the future, his mate also promised to get the Kettenkrad up to Duncan's so I can have a spin in it at some point, result!

I had a really good day yesterday, mate Julian came all the way from Kendal to bring me a pot of white paint which I am in danger of running out of, so he gave me the paint and I gave him eight Perry Highlanders which he wanted to paint up, Julian is an excellent painter and I did not need the figures having ordered too many. We had a coffee and a chat over the table for the afternoons game while customers came in and stared. I then had the game and in the evening I had a Zoom 'Show and Tell' with the guys from the club for an hour or so which was good fun, a lot of busy wargamers and a lot of enthusiasm for various projects when this nonsense is done with.

If we do get down to a 1m social distance I would like to do more games here as my table is 9'x5' and Duncan and I were on opposite sides all afternoon so there would be no problem in upsetting anyone.

I am back to normal hours from Monday, a real shame as I have been enjoying my afternoons off due to the lockdown, every cloud etc. I have had my first map commission in since lockdown, the book is about the rebellions against Henry VIII in the West Country, there are 11 maps to be rendered. On the tray are the 88th Foot to be based so they should be complete tomorrow, then I have a SYW limber to do, a few hours worth and then some scatter terrain, an oil tank, water tank and a fountain. I also have on order a beautiful Russian Church from Scenic World and a small round, brick well, I don't need them but with a full Russian village why not a church?

Just had Rob from the club pop in to post a parcel from a PO with no queue, I gave him a discount and put the secret Postman's mark on his parcel.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Road to Bremen VI (Bob loses out on the girl)

As Colonel Bob and his men approached the industrial outskirts of Bremen only the old men and youngsters of the Volksturm stood in his way, would they surrender or fight, Hauptmann Krosbi had survived several combats and evaded the squads carrying out summary executions of 'traitors' in the rear areas and managed to convince the local Gauleiter that he had to make a stand.

I am glad the Volksturm were going to fight otherwise my new industrial buildings would have remained on the shelf until 2525 when the lockdown is lifted. These forces were much weaker than the army and Waffen-SS troops which had gone before and consisted of two infantry squads variably armed with SMG's, assault rifles, rifles and panzerfausts (sadly the old type), in support they had a Pak 36 upgraded with the steilgranate and a panzerschreck. The area was too large for this small force to defend so Krosbi decided to use his forces in the complex nearest the rear and abandon the other. The British kept 1 Platoon in the spearhead as it had taken very little casualties in the last fight, this time two of the infantry squads were carried in halftracks while the heavy support involved one of the remaining Shermans, the plan was to be aggressive and rush forward to overwhelm the defenders.

As the Germans waited for the British to show their hand one enemy platoon advanced quickly on the left flank towards the empty complex, once that had arrived the halftracks were ordered forward covered by smoke and the Sherman. Krosbie now brought on his anti-tank assets and they both opened up on the Sherman, over a couple of phases when the smoke cleared they managed to damage the gun sight and kill the gunner while inflicting some shock, but never managed to knock out the Sherman which still managed to support the British attack. It was now time to bring on the Volksturm, however one squad trying to make for one of the buildings took heavy casualties on the way and only just made it to cover, the other defended against the debussed British infantry who had managed to close the gap to the defence line due to smoke cover. These brave men put up a gallant fight against larger odds but soon found themselves whittled down until only Krosbi and the Junior Leader remained standing.

With the writing on the wall the Germans surrendered amid the chaos, in a later interview a wounded Krosbi confirmed there were no more troops between Hope's men and Bremen, the British were relieved. Sadly though the Germans had managed to sneak a minor victory due to their tenacious defence of the Hedge of Death for three turns, well done Matt. The maps are a work in progress, I hope eventually to cover all the vehicles etc. I have and to tart up the terrain, I didn't have time to work with a Pak 36.

A fitting end to a great little campaign, I was very happy that both my new buildings and Fall of the Reich units made it into combat and very pleased the old men had fought so well considering the odds. The campaign is a very fitting fight for solo gaming as the Germans have to commit all their forces apart from possible reinforcements to certain tables so the onus is on the British to clear the way, my thanks to friend Matt for allocating these. The mechanic whereby the Germans might think twice about dying for Hitler and surrender is also quite brilliant. Could anything improve the game, possibly, I think some of the maps are a bit too open and would have liked more choices for my British support but perhaps as they start with three platoons that would be a bit greedy. This Campaign is in the Lardy 2017 Special and is well worth the few quid, I would like to play this again in a face to face encounter.

I have played quite a bit of Chain of Command since the lockdown and during these games introduced several house rules from the Lardy Forums, some worked, others I dropped. The big one is how to reduce the effect of one side getting two or more phases in a row, I tried dropping a die for every subsequent phase but all this did was limit the amount of orders you could give and actually stopped you taking advantage of the double or triple phase. I found the best way to limit this was not to let anyone fire twice, this means you cannot simply wipe out an enemy squad with impunity and you can focus on maneuver more, both players are then happy, or happyish. I also made the mortar blast area a 9" circle rather than a square, not a huge difference but a bit better, I might also try an 8" beaten zone, again a circle at some point. I also allow pinned troops to move away from the enemy without losing movement to shock. I had also at one stage introduced a sixth die for the attackers, this really didn't work for me mostly because I was just unlucky with the throws, managing to get 4, 5 or 6 with it which in the event were useless, but I still think in some games it is worth considering, especially in games where the attacker has a lot of support, too much to manage with five dice.

As you know I did not have a Pak 36 to use with this campaign so just had to buy one, and as luck would have it Matt rolled one for support in the last game, so I spent a couple of days getting it ready. The kit is from Rubicon and is an excellent model, a lovely little gun with five crew, it is marked as early war but I wanted it as a last ditch weapon used during the late war by garrisons and ad hoc units in the paths of the invaders. To this end I gave it a late war camo scheme and painted two of the crew in camo jackets so that they fit better with my existing Volksturm and Volksgrenadiers, I am happy with the result. You get a steilgrenate with the gun which is what allowed it to be used until the end of the war and the new ammo could penetrate 180mm of armour (basically all Allied tanks) at close range, I decided not to fit the grenade but leave it on an ammo box just to remind me the gun had one.The crew are also far better than the normal 'Ken doll' types you get with Rubicon, and you get five!

Friday, 5 June 2020

Road to Bremen V

After the 'Hedge of Death' episode morale in the British ranks had slipped somewhat, especially after driving unopposed through the German countryside collecting prisoners at every turn. Resistance was now stiffening as 1 Platoon supported once again with two Shermans approached a small hamlet having left 3 Platoon to lick their wounds around the Hedge Line. The Germans were once again prepared to defend the Reich, the remnants of once proud Waffen SS formations and a small team of Hitler Youth armed to the teeth with a couple of panzerfausts each were moving on the same hamlet.

At first the British were completely confident that this time their tanks would blow away the opposition, despite this not being the case over the previous 36 hours, once both sides had made their advances the British held one house on the outskirts while the Germans settled in to the remainder to await the onslaught. The approaches to the village proper were covered by barbed wire, but the British had a wire cutting team on standby. The tanks began to pummel the nearest German stronghold with impunity, I thought as the Jerries had no heavy anti-tank presence I could just about wrap the game up as it was turning out to be very bland. I contacted Matt and told him what was going on so he threw caution to the wind and ordered his men to be more aggressive.

To this end I brought along the panzerschreck team and threw a die to determine which panzerfausts had been issued to the infantry, a 6 meant the best, panzerfaust 100's, so during the next German phase out popped the 'schreck team and the men in the first house opened up on the nearest Sherman, the 'fausts both missed as did the 'schreck. This however gave the British tankers a real fright, however they were too slow at moving back and in the next salvo the 'schreck brewed the closest Sherman, the other although shocked and the driver stunned managed to get out of panzerfaust range. The 'schreck team down to one man ran for cover and waited an opportunity to pop out and take another shot, this could be suicide as the British had now managed to bring on a section and move along the right flank and was waiting on overwatch for just such an occurrence.

Things now began to go the right way for the British, a section was now sent to the left flank, in the spirit of Matt's orders the German section there had an idea to move out of their house to open up lines of sight but were caught short of cover and a complete team were shot to bits, the other remained in the house. In the house nearest the British both MG42 teams had been whittled down to a couple of men and looked ripe for an assault as the wire had now been breached and a British section were approaching the blind side of the house. There was no need as the remaining Sherman rained destruction on the inhabitants and wiped them out, this tank now turned its attention to the only full remaining German section in the barn. German morale fell, it was time to surrender.

The main problem for the Germans in this game was that they had no heavy AT capability, this is of course at a premium for this campaign and to get some the Jerries need to hold the British off for a time, they managed this but sadly their replacements have been a bit on the light side so far. I of course use my own buildings and these were bereft of windows on the sides although had plenty back and front, this was not deliberate, it was just how they were put down, this played a bit of havoc with lines of sight for the Germans. The British also managed to get five free moves for the Patrol Phase, this also put the Jerries on the back foot as I think only one of their JOP's was in a really good position in the town centre almost and allowed easy flow into the barn and the opposite building, the barn did have good LOS.

There are three tables to go and the core of the German defence has either been defeated or surrendered, the British have lost almost half their armour and casualties have been heavy in two of the platoons. Intelliegence now suggests the British are up against the old men and young boys of the Volksturm, will they fight or will then fold, we will find out.

What else has been happening, well I finished my first Highland unit for the Seven Years War, the 87th Foot, Keith's Highlanders. The figures are from Perrys American War of Independence and are very nice and fit well with Front Rank, I have not gone overboard on the tartan and I have gone for the suggestion rather than a perfect set. They were military tartans back then so they were not fancy unlike the colourful stuff we get today where every man and their dog 'has their own'. These guys had a dark green set and the 88th which will be on the tray soon have dark blue/green.

My wargamers OCD kicked in again, for the Bremen campaign one of the choices for the Germans is a Pak 36 with steil granate, so I bought one from Rubicon, it will not only do for the campaign but for other games during the fall of the Reich when local forces and garrison troops have to be thrown in to the defence. A recent book also showed Panzer II's and other early tanks including French machines being used as the Russians closed in. I got the gun yesterday and in three hours it had been built and primed, today I got started before opening the PO and I can see it being done and dusted for the next game some time over the weekend.

I nearly forgot that I made another visit to Duncan's emporium on the Crag, I had some books to take back and he asked me if I would like to take a spin in one of his Kubelwagens, I tried to be nonchalant as if I drove in WWII vehicles every day but it didn't work, yes please. We set off on a small journey along the Crag road and got some very odd looks as we turned around in the little car park and sped away again, well I say sped, drove off again. It was a real treat, the car has nothing fancy in it at all, completely basic and a button start would you believe, I was glad no one would be shooting at us as the petrol tank was right in front of me where a dashboard should normally be. I dragged out his panzerschreck for a closer look and wandered around a bit while Duncan got us a cold drink, we then sat and chatted for an hour or so before I returned with a huge smile on my face to Casa Anderson.

The lockdown continues to be a pain as does the madness in the outside world, thank the lord I live in a village off the beaten track and a great distance from London.