Sunday, 25 April 2021

Romano-British vs Saxon

 I was stuck earlier in the week and had hoped to get a Bolt Action game in with my son but he was busy, so at the last minute I gave Rob Broom a shout and asked if he was free for some War and Conquest, to my delight Rob said he would. I decided to do Dark Ages this time as we usually play Seleucids vs Romans, Rob likes the former and I like the latter, so it would be nice to do something different. 

Rob asked me to put together two typical lists for both armies, when he does play Dark Ages he has played Romano-British, I usually play Saxons, so we swapped for the upcoming game. The game was 2,500 points and each side had six battle formations, four infantry/mercenaries and one cavalry supported by a couple of skirmish units, there were three commanders and four SIPs (Strategic Initiative Points) as well. Although the armies look the same there are a couple of subtle differences, the British get the choice of large shields which with the lack of armour in these armies is a boon, the Saxons however get Warband which helps in melee. To offset the shields I gave the Saxons two large warbands, one being the Frankish mercenaries with a heavy throwing weapon, both also had hearthguard troops led by their respective leaders.

Deployment was fairly typical but the Saxons had held back their elite troops as a reserve, so as the Dux looked over the field of battle it seemed the Saxon main line was weaker than the British and the Ceorls and Duguth 1 if they could be caught would be outclassed by the British. The Franks looked like a problem as they would probably beat the Welsh in a fair fight so I hoped my cavalry and javelins would quickly overcome the enemy skirmishers and then wheel in to help the Taff's. My trap was set.


I had to turn the Pedyts towards the enemy cavalry as I could not let them get behind me, they in turn charged and dispersed my archers, however they were so keen to pursue they put themselves in a position where the Pedyts caught them in the flank and routed them. Sadly for me both the Pedyts and my archers ended up off the table, however both rallied and would later come back. On my right I could not budge the annoying Saxon javelins, I was losing time as the Franks continued towards the flank of my line, I had held the Welsh back but now had to bring them forward to prevent the flanking move, the Franks turned towards them.


My Comitatus and Milites 1 now smashed into the Saxon line, although the enemy put up a decent fight they soon turned and ran, Duguth 1 to rally behind the king and the Ceorls to run all the way home. Duguth 2 fled in concert with their friends and things looked good for the British. The Saxon king now brought his companions into the fight and threw his men at the Dux and his Comitatus, this stiffened Saxon resolve and the Duguth units rallied, victory was going to be harder than I thought. The Saxon Gedriht got the better of the fight for a long time until their luck ran out and in a surprising turn of events the Comitatus began to push them back, both sides had suffered horrendous losses and both the Dux and his standard bearer were bleeding from wounds. Duguth 2 had now come back into the fight but their opponents were winning that fight as well due to the fact the Duguth were also struggling through the marsh. Behind the Gedriht Duguth 1 was in combat with Milites 1 and again losing the fight, men in the rear ranks began to look fearfully around them. 


The Saxon household at last broke and the victorious survivors of the Comitatus smashed into the flank of Duguth 1 in their pursuit, on the left the Pedyts were also now in a position to threaten Duguth 2, it was all over, the Saxon king was hauled off the battlefield by his remaining retainers and a wounded yet smiling Dux watched him go.


Another great game and again a bloody yet typical Dark Age bloodbath, no fancy manouvering with these armies, no sneaky tactics or strange troop types, it all comes down to combat and holding your nerve, victory has to be grabbed by the throat. Apart from my missile fire being completely useless until the last round I cannot really complain, OK the Comitatus gave me a fright for a time as the Gedriht seemed unbeatable but their morale held and they came back and surprised both Rob and I. Rob's luck again was probably just below average however his Ceorls stood a lot longer than they should and they also had me worried at one point, they might be reluctant to turn up at a battle but they, and the Pedyts, can be dangerous if taken for granted.

I still have a few troops on the paint tray and my 250/1 command vehicle and SU-100 kit are hiding from the missus at the back of the study, I have a StuG D on the way so will get the troops done first and then get the last of my vehicles sorted. I am glad I jumped into this remote gaming and it is also great to have a chat while playing and then the Recrimination Phase at the end. I need to organise another one.

While out for my walk the other night I ran into Duncan just back from a shoot somewhere down south, he took his halftrack and is unhappy that they painted it a sandy pink which the film crew thought was a good colour for the Western Desert, so why pay a military adviser then. During the chat he mentioned he was paid to take an APC to Cannes for the release of Expendables 3. Intrigued I watched the film last night, dire, absolutely dire, 9 guys and one gal kill almost the whole army of a small fictional Eastern European country without even a scratch, it was muck. I did find the photo below however, Duncan is in the driving seat.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Horrible Year

 It has been just over a year now since the plague hit and we are still suffering from the effects of it and others who have their fingers in the Covid pie for good or ill. 

When the club shut down I hit the ground running, wargaming being not only a hobby but a passion which has sustained me for around fifty years. I at first turned to solo gaming, I then got others involved in choosing army lists, deploying troops or giving orders, this worked quite well and kept me in touch with mates. We also had a 'club' Zoom meeting courtesy of one of the members and his business account, where about half a dozen of us turned up and painted and chatted for an hour and a half, an excellent time as we showed off our latest projects, troops on the waiting list or simply talked wargaming. I also kicked off several Too Fat Lardies Chain of Command mini campaigns, again involving friends, the campaign theme continued with two WWI naval campaigns based on the Goeben and Breslau incident at the beginning of the war as the two ships made their way to Turkey. I seemed to be getting more wargaming done during Lockdown than I did before.

I also threw myself into adding to my WWII collection and went East and added the Russians, this fired me up and before I knew it I planned to build Berlin, well a shadow of the city, OK a couple of streets. Somewhere along the line I also added a British Airborne force for Arnhem after once again watching A Bridge Too Far. After about six months I began to slow down, what was it all about Alfie I asked, face to face gaming was still out as my little part of rural Lancashire was lumped in with the dangerous part and we found ourselves at Defcon 5 or Tear 10 or whatever. As my troop numbers grew and there was still no light at the end of the tunnel I did wonder why was I bothering.

We had to stop the Zoom calls and despite efforts to sustain the meetings they never again happened, I also noticed that our Facebook page had almost died a death as well, blog numbers were also down, a malaise had descended heading into the ninth month of hell. I gave myself a kick in the pants and along with the Berlin project I ran several online games over email using my mapping skills, I took part and I ran a couple for others. Once again these died off and I have to admit a couple of times I did think maybe it was time to give up, I bought an expensive game to play on the PC which took in the Russian front from Barbarossa to Berlin but have yet to really dive in, it did not scratch the itch.

In the doldrums after Christmas Warlord brought out their new ACW Epic range and this seemed to electrify people, I had 5,000+ troops sitting waiting for an outing, so revitalised I once again dived into a campaign and managed to get two players who allowed me to lose myself in one of my favourite wargame periods and allowed me to fight three excellent, nail-biting battles.

After this the dark cloud moved in again, a third Lockdown was taxing me somewhat. Another new project, Early War on the Ostfront, I also with some help and encouragement from other bloggers turned to trying battles using cameras, why not I thought, face to face is still a way off. These turned out to be very good, not as good as having someone across the table, nothing will beat that, but I played against some mates whom I would otherwise never have played and to my surprise I manged to host them fairly easily and everyone enjoyed them, I also played in a couple hosted by Phil Robinson and they again were excellent.

I continue with this blog as I enjoy writing and use it as a kind of wargaming diary and it has helped during the present unpleasantness. I am also involved in a WWII naval campaign which Rob Martin is running and I have a remote Dark Ages game on Saturday against Rob Broom. The 17th May and a small amount of real freedom is beckoning but I don't think we will be out of the wood this year, a dour prediction but I cannot shake it. I will never give up wargaming and will simply have to b****r on.

To end on a happier note, I went ahead and got the last of my vehicles, a StuG D, 250/1 halftrack and a SU-100 are on the way, and that really is it for battles in the East. Oh, and I get my second jab tomorrow, pity I cannot call FREEDOM!

Sunday, 18 April 2021

Back to the Farm

 My second game this week and a second German attempt to force their way past Collective Farm 452, this time I commanded the Kampfgruppe against Phil from News From The Front blog. This will be my third game against Phil so I hosted for a change. Once again it was Chain of Command and as the Germans my supports included a Pz38(t), just to get the model on the table and in the same vein I took a 250/1 halftrack, again something you do not see very often on a table,oh, and a pre-game barrage to slow the Soviet deployment. My thinking behind the halftrack was that there was a lot of open ground for my troops to traverse and as the Russian support would be limited surely it would be safe to bring a transport. Phil took a minefield and as he knew I had recently finished a nice little BT-7 took the BT-7.

Bit scrappy as the original was elsewhere but you get the gist.

 The game started badly for me with only one extra move for my patrol markers, so I did not make a lot of ground however I got quite a few double phases in the opening rounds and deployed my full Kampfgruppe, I kept one squad in the woods on my left along with the tank while my other squad deployed on the right and my halftrack joined them with a squad in the back. Phil deployed into the Blue House near the crossroads and started a firefight with the squad in the wood, one which he began to lose and eventually had to attach a Senior Leader to to keep them in the fight. Another Soviet squad deployed in the centre of the village near the 'donkey enclosure', shortly after as the Jerries moved forward from their right, a third squad hunkered down in the large yellow barn.

 With large numbers of Russian infantry dropping Phil brought on his BT-7, for the rest of the game this tank duelled with the Panzer on the road, neither managing to land a mortal blow. This meant however that the German infantry advancing on the Russian left were free to concentrate on the barn and soon this squad broke and ran to the rear, Soviet morale was plunging. A Red mortar team desperately tried to help the troops in the Blue House of Special Purpose but fell to German fire. At this point the Germans had lost one man killed while Soviet losses were approaching 20, Phil took a desperate chance and moved his last, almost full squad from the 'donkey enclosure' to assault the nearest German squad. Things went awry for the Russians and as the dust settled their morale fell to zero. A German breakthrough.

 A good game and the farm proved only a slight speed bump as Barbarossa drives forward. Once again Phil had some bad dice luck and his men were usually killed while evading shock, although this eventually caught up with some of the troops. The scenario is fairly well balanced but if one or other tank gets knocked out it can spell disaster, this I think would normally force the Jerries to bring two tanks or a tank and an anti-tank gun just to be safe, my choices could have backfired had my tank brewed up. The Soviets do not have this luxury with half the support points of the Germans so perhaps a tank and a satchel charge as back up. I am not so sure dedicated tank hunter squads would have been employed in the first weeks of the war and the dog mines didn't turn up until October '41 and according to most sources were pretty much useless, although you could still find them in '43.

The dead pile tells a story.

 Not sure what will be next as the 17th May is still a month away, Phil wants to try Battlegroup again in a fortnight so I shall have to give some thought to the next game.

I don't do a lot of social media, I have a few Facebook groups on which I like to admire the photos of other peoples wee sojers and terrain and I manage to keep in touch with a handful of like minded people whom I probably will never meet but somehow I know I would enjoy a beer with. I have decided however to give up asking questions as the replies leave me struggling to find the effort to take my next breath. I asked a simple rules question the other day and immediately got a question back in return, then you get the comedians jumping in with their unhelpful and unfunny one liners. You also need to almost get a lawyer to frame your question so that it covers every eventuality or you can be sure someone will come back with something completely unrelated to what you were looking for. Then if you get that far the post is hijacked by people bringing up their own rules or experiences which have nothing to do with your original question. A typical example is someone asking about rules for large scale ACW battles, up pops Joe Bloggs with "Somesuch" is brilliant for Dark Age skirmish, duh, and yes I have seen it, or something akin to it. So I ended up with 34 comments and counting where only about three were any good to me. Lesson learned, I will use my own commonsense in future and merely enjoy the pictures. It is just a shame that the helpful answers are overwhelmed by the rubbish.

So not much coming up this week apart from getting my second Astra-Zeneca jab, and I am more than happy to get it. I did get those odd figures I sent for so I will be painting at some stage. Since opening up full time again I am really missing those afternoons off.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Collective Farm 452

 When I first got back into Chain of Command I watched a game on YouTube where Richard Clark introduced the game to one of the guys from Beasts of War, the scenario looked really interesting and it was intimated it was a pig farm. Now that I have my Barbarossa forces 99% ready I watched again and set up my own pig farm for a second remote game with mate Billy, we played Bolt Action the first time so it was CoC this time with the added bonus he has played CoC before.

I sorted the troops out as per the Chain of Command lists for Barbarossa and rolled for support, the Germans got nine so I rounded up and gave the Russians 5, I have two games organised for this week, Billy yesterday and Phil tomorrow. In this game I was the Russian defenders as the Hitlerites poured over the border, I knew they had enough points to bring at least a couple of tanks so I needed some kind of anti-tank capability. In the end I went for the BA10 armoured car whose main gun was just as good as on the T-26 or the 45mm anti-tank gun and as a bonus it had two machine guns, I also gave one of my squads a satchel charge just in case the panzers got too close. Billy took a PzIIIG and a PzIVD.


I played it cool in the opening rounds and kept my defenders hidden off table, the Jerries advanced a squad and set up in the Blue dacha on the outskirts of the village, the lines of fire were slightly obscured but enough to get an LMG and a couple of rifles to cover the far end of the village. Another squad lined the wood just outside the village on the right flank, it was time for me to get some troops on the table, I set up in a large house near the crossroads and battle commenced. My squad in the house obviously did not want to be there as their fire went everywhere except at the Germans, the enemy return fire started to whittle away at the defenders and shock climbed, being large thirteen man squads the latter wasn't so bad but the number of killed was a worry and I pulled them back from the windows. I brought on a second squad, NKVD border guards and they took up a position in the large barn and again after a brief fire fight with the enemy in the far woods retired to the rear.

 Getting a double phase and no threatening enemy the Germans set their third squad up the road at a run supported by the arrival of the Panzer III, this began shelling the house at the crossroads and more of my men fell. I had to do something so on came the BA10, out of sight of the German tank its machine guns began to take a toll of the infantry on the road, I also moved my squad back to the windows and Jerry casualties at last began to climb, albeit slowly, too slow for me as my dice continued to be dire.

 With Billy pulling back his men on the road and bringing more armour on, the PzIV, I threw caution to the wind with a double phase and moved the BA10 to bring its gun to bear on the side of the advancing PzIII, the shot did not knock it out but it did destroy the gunsight. Billy decided to retaliate but I interrupted and this time the tank went up in flames, my elation did not last long as in the next phase he interrupted me and the BA10 blew up. Faced with the threat of an almost invincible Panzer IV roaming the village I brought on my third squad and fired down the road at the survivors of the rash squad, these guys had already lost their leader and one team so the lone survivor now broke and German morale collapsed.

 A good little game and perfect for a remote clash, we had both started with 9 on our morale tables (I always add one to the roll) and we kept pace with each other as leaders were wounded or killed. Without managing to kill the last squad I really do not know how I would have dealt with the remaining tank, probably have had to play hide and seek and get the satchel charge close enough or go after the remaining infantry. Anyway, I have Phil to play tomorrow and I am the bad guys this time.

 I am almost finished with what has morphed into my large Eastern Front project, which now stretches from Barbarossa, through Case Blue, Kursk, Bagration and then to the streets of Berlin, not bad considering I was never going to do the Ostfront. The latest additions were a BT-7 tank, a really nice resin kit from Warlord, I hear bad things about their resin but cannot complain about any of the stuff I have had, for the Germans I finished a Pak 38 5cm anti tank gun. Although transport does not figure much in WWII skirmish games I like to have it so I added an Opel Blitz, Maultier and Gaz AA to the pot. 

 Am I done, well almost, I do not have a Soviet SMG squad and found that if I add eight riflemen to my Volksgrenadiers I can field either a Rifle or Assault platoon, so they are on the way as is a Russian command group which contains a medic and a radio operator, of course the Russians had medics! I still have a small wishlist of a 250/1 as a command vehicle and a StuG D for early war, so, almost.

After a very busy time with maps I have had a quiet week but now I am back in the Western Desert with a book on the Italian army in WWII and a second volume on the Anglo-Spanish war 1655-1660.

Russo-Sino War

Tudor Art of War

Argentina Falklands


Saturday, 10 April 2021

Hans Rudel wins the day.

 Had my second remote game hosted by Phil Robinson last night, back to WWII and this time we used the Battlegroup rules, these are generally for large actions but can be cut back to platoon level, I have experience of these rules from games at the club and they are quite popular among some of the members. Phil sent me all I needed and I was intrigued enough to look at the rules, quite expensive but they cover a lot of the big events i.e. Kursk, Arnhem, Normandy etc. The production value is very high, nice books with a lot of information in them. But I don't need more WWII.

I was the commander of a Volksgrenadier platoon with a Panzer IV in support along with a couple of mortars, Phil was the British his platoon also had mortars and a Cromwell. I was attacking and again decided to be aggressive in the opening moves, my first wave included the tank and I sent one rifle team out on the left towards a ruined building while the rest of my lads made for the first line of hedges.

 This went fairly well and my left flank rifle team got to the house and dispatched the unlucky sniper hiding in the ruins, I wanted to throw my right forward but I had forgot my LMG teams so decided to wait a bit. After exchanging fire for a couple of turns with not much happening we both got our reserves but sadly I did not get enough orders to coordinate an advance so it was fairly piecemeal to the second line of hedges. I had obviously disturbed a hornets nest as within another couple of turns I had a rifle team wiped out and had to take some chits to unpin half my army. You have a morale rating and at times you have to take a chit, once these number the same as your morale you lose the game, instead of numbers some chits have events to help or hinder one player or the other. My rating was 16 and at the halfway point in the battle I had collected 10, it seemed the writing was on the wall.

 Wait, a high pitched scream and from out of the blue the iconic shape of a Stuka dive bomber swept the British line cannons blazing, the annoying British MMG disappeared, a cheer went up from the German lines. As I reorganized my badly battered platoon the Stuka continued, despite some desperate AA fire from the British squads, to cause havoc, I also picked on the small teams as the aircraft easily wiped these out if it hit and this caused Phil to reach for chits. The British were having to concentrate on the Luftwaffe instead of finishing off my infantry they also ran their Cromwell forward to try and break the stalemate, the shot bounced off the Panzer IV and the return fire brewed up the British tank, more chits.

 Although Phil still had three almost untouched infantry squads left all his support teams, armour and HQ had been killed and at last he took one chit too many and had to withdraw, a relieved German commander watched them go.

 The pendulum had swung for both sides during the game, I made a good opening but was then halted and suffered quite badly, partly my own fault for having left off the LMG teams and also on occasion having dire order throws which allowed me to barely make a brew never mind hurt the British. Phil had better luck in this game than the last but suffered from not being able to bring in his mortars and when they did it was 'danger close' and he cancelled the order from fear of hitting his own troops. I didn't have much luck either bringing in artillery, and me being an old Naval Gunfire Support hand. Orders or lack of them are very important to this game as is the pinning mechanism, the rest is fairly standard and easily picked up. So once again a great way to spend a few hours with a chat afterwards and thanks to Phil for taking the time and hosting. Another report here.

Phase III is finished, it has taken me a week this time, having said that the Pak 40 crew have not been painted although I did start them last night and I have only just taken delivery of the lovely little BT-7. Once again a simple Panzer grey sprayed over a black undercoat, I did not give any of the grey vehicles a wash as the paint was pretty dark to start with so merely drybrushed them with Blue-Grey, I think it worked. While looking on the interweb to find out about markings it was noticeable that most of these early vehicles did not carry a lot of stowage, so despite getting quite a few pieces of canvas in the PzIV kit I decided to leave the tanks alone. The early halftracks also did not carry a lot of stowage nor did they seem to have that extra tire on the front which Rubicon gives you, but I did notice quite a few fuel cans here and there on them, so decided to go easy on them too, but the end result still has a few items hanging on the sides.

 I still had a small amount of Royalties left and with £7 of 'Rubi Rewards' in the bank I ordered Phase IV, these are not needed but they will 'complete' the collection; one Opel Blitz, One Opel Maultier and one Gaz truck. Is that me done, well I am not sure, Phase V could be a 250 halftrack for the HQ or as a Recce vehicle and an SMG squad for the Soviets, watch this space.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021


 I was so impressed and had such a good time playing Phil's scenario for the last days of the Reich I decided to steal it for a game of my own, I was talking to mate Billy from north of the border and although he has never played Bolt Action he is a veteran wargamer and took up my challenge.

I recommended he take the Russian steamroller but he opted for the hard pushed Jerries, this time around I gave the Germans two Volksturm squads and one regular Volksgrenadier squad with assault rifles, in support was an infantry gun, a Pak 40 and a Jagdpanzer IV L/70, much the same forces with which Phil defended. I do not have as much armour as Phil so I took a T-34/76, T-34/85 and a lend lease Valentine IX, I also got a T-70 light tank, a 120mm mortar and an infantry gun. Now, Phil's Russians also had a nice little SU-57, I do not have one of them (yet) only an SU-122 or a JSU-152, both of which I thought unsporting to bring to the fight so I left them back at HQ, after all I had swept all before me against Phil (forgetting how bad his die rolling had been).


Once again I decided to simply rush the German position, the opening rounds from the Pak 40 and the Jagdpanzer both missed, I was on track for a second Order of the Soviet Union. As my troops ran to keep up with the armour my T-70 suddenly ground to a halt immobilised, nearby the T34/85 blew up, I chose the Pak as my main target and opened up, nada, my mortar rounds fell nearby showering the crew with dirt and not steel. I did begin to whittle away the Volksgrenadiers in their entrenchments along the hedge of the ploughed field. Bang, the T-34/76 now erupted in flames, a jubilant Jagdpanzer commander waved his hat in the air, if this kept up I would have no tanks to run off the table edge and snatch victory, I nervously looked backward and thought of that SU-122 sitting at HQ.

I threw my infantry at the German line and suffered for it, however my mortar found the range to the Pak and destroyed the annoying gun, to have any chance now I had to get the Valentine to knock out the Jagdpanzer and get some of my surviving infantry to sprint for the end of the table as the remaining Germans, the Volksturm were over on my right flank and the Volksgrenadiers had been wiped out. I now found out that the British had sent us a dud, the 6pdr gun hit but bounced off the Jerry tank, they also missed but it was only a matter of time, to my horror I also found out that the Valentine was 'slow' so even with a clear run I would not make the table edge. I looked over the devastation and decided to work on my excuses for HQ as I threw the towel in.

As expected Billy did not put a foot wrong and he rolled far better than Phil did, the lack of an infantry anti-tank weapon with which to possibly take on or give pause to the Jagdpanzer was a bummer, all the German squads had panzerfausts and one of them eventually put paid to the immobilised T-70. I should perhaps have taken the SU and perhaps stopped for a turn and poured HE on to the enemy positions, but I was flush with victory and threw caution to the wind and suffered for it. No matter, a good few hours of gaming and some chat with a good mate, not face to face but the next best thing.

Phase Two of the Early War project was finished a week or so ago, a Pz38(t) and a 231 armoured car, I ended up with a 233 due to a mistake in posting so I thought I may as well paint it up, alongside these was an infantry gun with an early war crew and painted grey. I also managed to get some crew figures for the earlier open topped models, I was really pleased that once I had cut their bases off they really looked the part, I also spread some empty shell casings on the decks.


I also finished the last of my Russian infantry, an Airborne squad from Warlord, again a very nice little bunch and well animated, and more importantly easy to paint. I also added the anti-tank dogs and the ampulomet anti-tank mortar. That really should be it for the infantry components for both the Russians and Germans, OK, perhaps a naval squad for the Reds when we get to Stalingrad, but all done for now, I know that is tempting fate for a passionate wargamer but there, I have said it.

 Phase Three turned up on Saturday, a PzIV, PzIII, two Sdkfz 251's and a Pak 40, that leaves only the Russian BT7 to arrive. I have a tentative Phase IV which would be transport for both sides but that is not a priority. I have now built and primed them all so I can paint them at my leisure.

I seem to have done quite a bit in the last ten days or so.

No interesting characters in the Post Office this week, no wait, there was a lady who thanked me for being here and continuing to provide a service. I had to look up my online copy of the Domesday book to find out when she was last in.