Sunday, 26 September 2021

No white flags here (or submarines)

 Sadly my wargaming weekend was brought to a halt by a virus, not Covid thankfully but a very nasty cold/flu doing the rounds in the south-west so mate Matt had to call off, being all dressed up and nowhere to go so to speak I advertised on the club Facebook page for any volunteers for a Chain of Command game as I had the table built up and the time to spare. Stuart rose to the challenge and we chose forces and a scenario from the Blitzkrieg book.

I was the French again fresh from repulsing Rob's Germans a week or so ago, this time I took a Chasseur platoon which allowed me an extra COC dice, my choice of supports was rather basic however I opted for a tank (R35) over the anti-tank gun as my main support, this was backed up by a team of motorcyclists and AA machine guns in case of a Stuka attack, none of my supports were allowed to enter the table until turn 2, which in CoC could be a long time. Stuart came with a Motorised Infantry platoon so the only armour he could get was armoured cars, he took one of these, an extra infantry squad and forward observer for a mortar barrage.

  For the first time we used the patrol phase app (sorry I have no idea who the author is) on my iPad, you only need a photograph of the battlefield and off you go, I was very impressed, an excellent aid and one I will use again.

Once again I was defending the village and I managed to get a good position on my left in a ruined house while holding a wood on my right, I was hoping for a quick COC dice in order to end the turn and get my supports on before I was overwhelmed. Stewart put a squad in the centre and then started his attack through the wood to hit my left flank, the first squad up took heavy casualties and was forced to withdraw while another squad was brought up to help, his little mortar continually sniped at the men in the house but did no damage. Over on my right the Germans brought on the little 222 armoured car and advanced to take my guys in the wood under fire, at the same time a mortar barrage was dropped on the wood but although pinning my men it caused comparatively little damage, but it stopped the armoured car from coming any further forward. The artillery fire stopped and the 222 advanced, I was forced to pull back further into the woods as I had nothing at that time to tackle the 'little tank'. I brought on my VB grenadiers with the idea of bombarding the thing but just as I did I managed to end the turn and on came my armour which gave the armoured car pause to rethink where he was going.


Leutnant Gruber's 'little tank'.


 It was going to take me a little time to get the Renault into a firing position but as Stuart now had two squads shooting at the ruined house I turned all my attention on to them, the motorcyclists with their LMG had arrived and joined in, German casualties climbed at a faster rate than French casualties. Once again the German attack faltered and withdrew, this allowed me to now turn on the squad in the centre of the table and this too suffered badly. The armour of both sides could not land a damaging hit until right at the end when the 222 was taken out of action, with the German infantry fought to a standstill and the French still in a strong position with a reserve squad still to enter the fray Stuart conceded.

Grenadiers turn up.

Pierre's little tank.

 A couple of observations, we both had the extra Chain of Command die and I thought this really helped the flow of the game, it was not a cure for cock ups though and at one point I could not order my tank forward as even with six dice I could not get a three. The Germans I thought lacked some oomph, with no decent armour to choose from I think they would have benefited from bringing the infantry gun along with the armoured car, the mortar barrage did not deliver the goods and as the Jerries were coming forward and with the rather large footprint of the mortars it became to dangerous to drop them a second time. I know they covered a large area in real life but it is a game and the huge 3 foot square to me just ruins the game on a 6x4 foot table so I never use them, I am tempted for home games to reduce this footprint quite a bit so that they can be used for flushing out defenders without being overly powerful, we will see. Anyway, an excellent afternoon was had and Stuart brought me a printed tank as a gift, an FT-17 already painted, it will join my other one for the future.

I am going to set up my St. Nazaire table this week to see what it looks like and then work out some dates to play the game.

All historical gamers look away now. I have got my Blood Bowl bundle, the main game, an extra team as one of those in the box are a bit too poncy for me, can I say that. I have built five figures from my first team and cocked up two of them by cutting off bits which I should not have cut off. Although these are fine figures I would still not go plastic for anything historical. I doubt you will see these guys finished for quite a few weeks yet.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

If you go down to the woods.....

 Big game at the club, Muskets and Tomahawks 1.0. I found myself with a dilemma having been offered command of the Scots or the Royal Navy, I decided to go with the Senior Service and found myself ashore with my crew and a detachment of Royal Marines. I was supposed to defend a small trading post but at the same time make sure a shipment of pelts which I had invested in did not fall into the hands of the enemy.

A large irregular force of Frenchies and their Indian allies were afoot in the dense forest looking for plunder and a chance to annoy the local British forces, a tall order as it turned out. I set my fine body of press-ganged men in a defensive position near a blockhouse into which I put an artillery piece from the ship, as long as my goods were well defended I paid lip service to trouncing the raiders. A large fight developed out on the left of my position where Simon and Paul fought each other to a standstill, the Scots making their way slowly through the awful terrain to join in. 

I (blue coat) see to my defences.


The bad guys.

The marines before the slaughter.

 Meanwhile I had made an effort and moved my troops forward to meet Jimi's Indians who seemed intent on forcing a fight, I had my marines to the front and expected great things from them, needless to say that was a false hope. A screaming bunch of savages burst from the woods and almost slaughtered my brave boys, they only just managed to retire to a nearby building and hunker down, my own character went with them. I decided that was enough offensive action for me, but the Indians were not yet done and another band flung themselves at some of my crew. The Redskins had made a mistake as this particular mob had been recruited from the gutter sweepings of Boston and were tougher than their opponents, the Indians fled.

The British position solidified as the Scots turned up just in time to help Simon and put the brogan's into Paul's survivors. Andy and Ed on the right flank only managed a few desultory volleys at each other as Andy had found the usual wandering Lady and her maid (why do these women wonder off into the wilderness alone every time we play) and was escorting her back to the settlement, Ed did not have the legs to catch up. As the game closed Rob counted the points and I sneaked a win having defended my loot and kept my reluctant crew from routing. Good game and a lot of fun as usual.

On the home front I finished off my new BT-7 to build up a Soviet tank platoon for early war and a truck for my French motorised squad. I wasn't too keen on the French truck, the resin part was fine but Warlord metal parts just look crap and of course there was no instructions, OK you do not need to be an engineer to put it together but would it hurt? Anyway the truck turned out quite nice once it had a coat of paint, so happy after all. I know I have said it before but that does it for WWII, no more large forces in the pipeline, I may get the odd model from Rubicon as they add to their forces but I have no need for much at all now.

 I am going way out of my comfort zone, I have now bought a Blood Bowl team and am going to hone my painting techniques on the figures having been impressed with several painting tutorials online and now that my son has the game and the club has a league it will give me something to do as the nights draw in.

Map projects continue to mount up, the ones for Charles X Vol. 1 have thankfully reached the end and are off to the author for comments, up next is the Cold War again and British forces in Nato with a book titled "Never Ready." Thankfully we were never put to the test.

A couple of maps from Charles X

 When ordering up some of the stuff for BB I saw that I had 'Reward Points' sitting and as I was spending quite a bit of spondooliks I thought I would cash them in, what can you get for .18p?

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Il Duce Land Grab

We haven't been able to get on with our Gembloux Gap campaign due to real life butting in, however I had the terrain on the table so I asked mate Rob if he was free for a Thursday afternoon game of Chain of Command. For something different he said he would bring along his Italians, putting more thought into it we came up with Italian mountain troops attacking French mountain troops, the French being the defenders and under my command.

French blue, Italians green.

 Neither side gets a large choice of supports from these lists and once Rob had made the support rolls I ended up with five points, I took an MMG and a medic, the Italians had an infantry gun, MMG, small mortar and a medic. As the game began I made a bad mistake and did not put a Jump Off Point next to a ruined building but the one behind it, this was to cause me some pain as the game played out due to it limiting my line of sight. I took up a defensive position inside a house on my left and inside a small wood on my right, I supported this flank with the MMG which deployed to the upstairs, or what was left of it, in another shelled house.

Rob was quite happy pounding away with his guns and mortars at my left flank and only slowly did this affect the squad in the house as I kept rallying shock off, he also sent a squad through the wood on this side to add to the pressure, two more squads cautiously advanced in the centre keeping concealed behind hedges and a tall wall. A very brave Italian section got too close to the men in the house and suffered for it, Italian morale dropped. As the fight continued the job of removing the French from their position was getting harder and Italian morale fell even more. I now wanted to bring on my last squad with the idea of counter attacking the wood on my left and sweeping away the enemy right and pressurising the gun and MMG but they refused twice to turn up.

 When they did turn up it was to save my army, from being comfortably in front in quick succession I lost a Junior and Senior leader and my men in the house routed. Rob took advantage of a triple phase and French morale in the end mirrored that of the Italians, both being on a shaky five. Flushed with the scent of victory the Italians now threw it away by moving on my squad in the wood on my right flank, sadly for them I was waiting and managed to get a hail of fire on them from the defenders, MMG and rifle grenades. Rob had hoped his men would weather the storm but the shot and shell was too much, meanwhile my reserve squad had deemed to turn up and managed to get into the vacated house on the left to oppose the Italians opposite who had now taken roost in the damaged house I should have taken at the beginning of the game. Italian casualties climbed and Rob surrendered.

An interesting game with no armour and not much in the way of support. A tough one for the Italians as it usually is when attacking in Chain of Command, although Rob was putting a ton of lead into the house on my left flank at first he mainly caused shock and few kills, I had to counter this by using my Senior leader to bolster their morale. Once he had killed both leaders it was all up for those men and the survivors fled, it was unfortunate that his men advancing on the position were still a turn away from getting there and my reluctant reserves turned up at just the right moment. To cap it all Rob had brought two of the excellent pork pies from the butcher in Grange, so a double win for me.

At the club on Tuesday night we ran through some rules written by Stuart for his take on Battlestar Galactica, all the models and playing pieces had been designed and printed by Stuart on his bank of 3D printers. I have to confess that it was only at the end of the game that I got a grip of the movement system so I think it is back to the drawing board for Stuart. He had brought some WWII ships for Rob which had been newly printed and they were simply beautiful but I really do not want another period.

 I received my two new buildings which I decided I needed for Project Operation Chariot. I was very happy with the large factory from Gamecult for only £20, it looked to be complex when I opened the box but it went together quite painlessly. I think I now have enough to complete my harbour complex so it only remains for me to organise the big day. Not next weekend as I have mate Matt coming for a weekend of gaming.

 Also off the production line are my three new Panzer 38(t)'s for a future campaign in Russia, I also managed to get a good deal on these and they came in at just over £12 each. They are a lovely kit and very easy to put together.

 I am not done yet as I have a Russian BT-7 for the same campaign to paint and a truck for my French motorised infantry, I do not doubt I will have these ready for next weekend just in case.

The LMF (Legendary Map Fund) has taken a hammering this week as I have invested in a new mouse for the downstairs PC, a new keyboard for the upstairs one and a cover so that in future I do not cover this one in paint. I also treated myself to another scholarly tome covering the war between the Byzantines and the Persians which allowed the rise of Islam as both were exhausted after decades of warfare.

Friday, 10 September 2021


 I was still on a high from my game with Mike Jordan last Sunday, leading my favourite army against a worthy opponent is one of the highs of wargaming. War and Conquest like wargaming with WRG back in the day gives me butterflies in my stomach as I hone my choices for the upcoming battle and as both sides deploy. Once the first orders are barked, the die is cast and everything settles down and may lady luck smile on the victors.

The club this week was a throw down game of Dead Man;s Hand, a great little game without the butterflies. Newcomer Jimi has invested in DMH so I set a game up as it had been a few weeks since we had a gunfight. We had a three way off the cuff scenario where a bunch of cowboys were determined to protect the stage carrying their payroll to the Wells Fargo office while two local gangs of Desperado's tried to steal said payroll.

A gunfight erupted between Jimi's guys and Simon's cowboys ensconced in the saloon across from the Wells Fargo office, I manouvered my own men towards the office and tried to keep them all together, apart from Fat Bob who went hunting with his shotgun towards Jimi's end of town, while Pecos Bill sniped away with his rifle from a nearby rooftop. Jimi began to lose the fight as men dropped in the street, his rash attack melted away and he returned to his starting point to seek shelter, I was still slowly walking down Main Street as the stage swept past me and screeched to a halt out side the Wells Fargo office.

 I ignored the stage as time was of the essence and marched my boys up to the saloon containing the cowboys, I had a bad run of cards which meant I had to move first and Simon took advantage of this, but I only lost one man before the whistle went. In the end I still had five men standing, Simon four and Jimi three however the money was still not safe and we needed more time which was not forthcoming. A nice little game but we really need to sort out the scenario and its rules before starting, I wanted to take or attempt to take the stage as it rattled past but I don't think that would have been a popular move. Next week Stuart asked me to help playtest a set of rules he is writing for Battlestar Galactica.

Matt and I have been unable to continue with our campaign this week, so we have penciled in next Friday for the attack on Villeroux. I am still awaiting my Panzer 38(t)s after getting Hetzers sent instead so I painted up all my new Chain of Command tokens. I also started a project which has been eating away at me for some time, Little Wars TV played a Bolt Action scenario based on the St Nazaire raid in 1942 ( here )and I thought I would love to play in something like that, and the only way I could see it happen is if I did it myself.

 I have the table so bought a load of polystyrene sheets to cut the harbour from, these were packing pieces and quite cheap. I duly cut them to size although I had to shave off 12" from the original map as my table is five feet wide and not six, but I deduced that if the Commandos got that far onto the back of the table the Germans would be well beat and the game over. I then needed to paint the tiles and thinking that an acrylic spray would not melt them I blasted away, but yes, they melted. I then scoured the house for old paint and found some which, mixed up I decided would do, I didn't want to spend a fortune on what might be a one off game. Happy with my 'harbour' I decided I needed a few more industrial type buildings, I do have some but not enough, I managed to get some from eBay, two sheds and a factory type building for decent prices, I can sort out everything else. I hope to get the game played early October. I already have a few volunteers for a dangerous mission lined up, should they accept ........................

My son bought Blood Bowl to play with his son, now this game has intrigued me now and again as the club has a very healthy league and everyone seems to enjoy themselves. Having some spare time I have been looking at the game and especially the figures used, I also watched several painting tutorials and was really impressed by the results, I also thought I could do that. For once however I am unsure, I have been close to buying a team and getting the 'official' paints but have not done so yet, I should really try to get a game at the club as it is something which is way out of my comfort zone. Watch this space.

Map projects continue to come in at a lively pace, the campaigns of Charles X of Sweden, the Battle of Lissa, Battle of Hastenbeck, Transylvanian Armies and once again some World War I maps.

Monday, 6 September 2021

Legio XII Fulminata Victrix

 Early doors yesterday morning as mate Mike had come up from Leicester for a game of War and Conquest with his Roman army, I was looking forward to it as Covid has hit my WAC gaming quite badly as my son has been unable to join me or me him for some games. I did as you know get two games in with Mark Walker recently, also Mike's friend.

I have experience of fighting Mike and had a good idea that his core forces would be two large auxiliary archer units along with three legionary cohorts and then supports. The large archer units are a pain and can cause a lot of damage to light skirmishers and even battle formations. I chose two army lists and on the day went for three legionary cohorts with German allies and my usual horse archers, skirmishers and Auxiliary light infantry (Lanciarii).

Once the terrain was laid I formed up with my Germans on my right supported by skirmishers and the light infantry, this strong force was to advance swiftly and knock out the enemy left then turn in and help the cohorts. My left had my own large archer unit and the horse archers. I wanted to advance these guys in skirmish and take out the enemy slingers and possibly their cavalry, the horse archers could do a dance with the enemy archers. My cohorts I decided would have to go forward, if Mike won on his right my line would be in danger of being flanked and shot to bits, I had to advance and it was fifty/fifty anyway as no one had the advantage in the centre.

Thunderbolts on the left, enemy Legion on the right.

 I pushed my whole right flank forward and managed to get on a small hill before the enemy Auxiliaries, my light infantry also followed and took the enemy horse archers under fire, killing some but not sending them running. On the left I tentatively advanced but my massed archers proved completely useless at using their bows, my own horse archers were even more cautious and hid in a wood not daring to show themselves. Mike kept getting the initiative and he hit the Germans first, I was expecting a win by the large warband but it fought halfheartedly, when their mates went in again I expected great things as they plunged downhill, but although winning the enemy did not break. Time was of the essence here and it was slipping away. The only good point was that the Lanciarii had routed the horse archers and dispersed them.

The Germans take the hill.

Mike was forcing me back on his right but it was slow going, he managed to eventually rout my archers but by this time I had come within charge reach of his centre and being in combat could save my flank for a little while at least. Over on my right I lost a warband and the Tribune in command fled alongside them, the first time I have ever lost a commander to fear rather than steel. Never mind, I had set up a good attack by my cohorts, and Cohors III was well placed to take out the large archer unit, but sadly as usual in this game, Mike won the initiative yet again and he instead came storming at me. I looked around the battlefield and prayed to Fortuna but still felt that things were about to go pear shaped.

 As the dust settled my prayers had been answered, all three cohorts had held, although just, and the First had actually won their fight, my warband also managed to start dealing death to their foe, I breathed a little easier. Having withstood the storm it was now the second round and the Legion relished it while Fortuna smiled, this time all the enemy in contact took horrendous casualties and fled, only to be caught and dispersed. Mike had gone from being on the cusp of victory to losing his army, he offered his sword.

And to the game, I did not win the initiative on any of the turns despite using Strategic Initiative Points and my shooting had been completely useless, this is happening a lot of late. Things turned my way once the legionaries had clashed, having survived the onslaught the second round was deadly for Mike and he failed his morale throws, up until then things had went well for him and had been disappointing for me. The last two battles had been a win and a loss for the Twelfth, but this time I felt the boys were back.

A good game against a good opponent, the pressure had really been on and I appreciated that Mike had
driven from Leicester to play, have some banter and a pint at our local brewery.

Nothing else happening at the moment, my shipment of Pz 38(t)'s turned out to be Hetzer's, so I await the proper tanks, my last French WWII squad, the motorised infantry is finished, next up will probably be to paint my new Chain of Command tokens. I have also ordered up some polystyrene sheets for a new project, more of which anon.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Johnny Reb in da Club

 The nights are fair drawing in, dark now when we leave the club, soon be dark when we get there. The club has certainly come back with a bang since opening, we have a couple of new members who seem to be intending to stay, there has been a trickle in the past but none became permanent. We also have had several who answered on our Facebook page that they will be attending but have never been seen. Anyway we are back and there has been an upsurge of interest in Black Powder games, this being brought on by Dan bringing his SYW armies and a couple of the guys building up the Epic scale Warlord American Civil War. This has had a happy side effect for me in that several members are now willing to play Johnny Reb and so far it has been great for me as it has proved popular. Although Rob was playing BP last night he brought in several Zouave regiments for me to look at and very nice they were too.

Simon had asked for a game of Johnny Reb while he paints up his Warlord figures so I organised a game for last night, four players with three new to the rules although Stuart has played one game before. I therefore kept it simple and we had a brigade each and the object was to take a large crossroads to enable following forces to deploy more quickly. This time I was Confederate with command of the Texas Brigade while Alex had Georgians whose officer was George T. Anderson, not a relative, Simon had the Second brigade of the First Division and Stuart had the First, the Iron Brigade.

The Georgia boys held the left and I took the right, my plan was for Alex to simply contest the crossroads while I swept Simon away and rolled up the Federal line. The flaw as it turned out was that both Simon and Stuart were able with their large brigades to hold the centre in strength and attack on our left, I was too intent on moving against the Second brigade to send help and Alex's line was pretty thin. It also did not help that Simon's artillery was very deadly and managed to take out my battery and then turn on the Texan line.

Union centre.

The Texans sweep forward.

The Iron Brigade advances.

 As the 5th Texas suffered shot and shell I threw charges in against the extreme Union left and swept it away, my elation was short lived as the Yankees took their revenge and in turn destroyed our left and centre in a series of charges. I decided to call it a day and pack up with twenty minutes remaining, a convincing Union victory and once again I had done my bit, albeit at the expense of the battle. It is also quite demanding running a game like this as you explain the rules and give advice to your enemies as the bullets whiz by your ears, I had a hoarse throat by the end of it. No matter, once again I had managed to get my boys on the table after years of R and R and of course, I had done my bit.......

I was supposed to have played the third game in our Gembloux Gap campaign by now but Matt's internet died and he was sent a new router which turned out to be the wrong one, so TalkTalk have managed to do what the French 1e Division d'Infanterie Motorisee have been unable to do and halt 3rd Panzer.

Villeroux, next stop for 3rd Panzer

 On the bright side this has given me time to complete my new Jump Off Points for the French, I got a pack of Refugees from 1st Corps and put four to a base, this way they can double up for civilians in other games if needed as well as JOP's. The bases are not suitable for putting a lot of clutter on and were too small for a cart, however maybe once shows are back on the agenda I might pick up some wheelbarrows or prams and rehash them. I almost forgot that Stuart printed off some new Patrol Markers for me embossed with divisional badges for my WWII forces, I could not find a suitable French design so went with one of their armoured tactical markings.

On the tray is a squad of Dragons Portes, French motorised infantry, I will get them a truck at some point. Due to be delivered tomorrow are my extra Pz 38(t)'s which I managed to get in a sale, this will give me a full tank platoon for a future campaign in Russia, I also need one more Soviet light tank but that can wait, at least for a week or so. I had planned to get some more Chain of Command done at the club but it will have to wait for another three weeks at least as I promised to host a game of Dead Man's Hand next week and the week after Stuart asked me to help playtest a set of rules he has put together for a sci-fi game.