Sunday, 29 December 2013

Russian Uniforms

My Crimean War booty has given me a few small headaches. The first is that my current paint palette was not set up for the colours I need, hence a trip to Dark Sphere near Waterloo Station. I know they stock both GW and the full range of Vallejo paints. (They also had the Warlord paints there as well). In the end having bought 5 or 6 possible, I decided that the most accurate paint for the base colour of my Russian  Greatcoats was GW Karak Stone. I could have 'faffed' around trying to mix my own colour but to be honest as the Russians are in 'campaign dress'  I can argue that the uniform was altered or adapted to match what was available at the time. Photos taken by Fenton even show British officers committing the cardinal sin of mixing uniform and civilian clothes!

The more problematic issue was to do with Russian Uniform facing colours. I am not massively hung up on getting all details absolutely correct but this is reasonably important. My research was limited to the Intraweb and some  Kindle Books ( being cheaper than their hardback or soft back brothers).

This is what I am going with unless I discover it is hopelessly wrong

1st Brigade Known as the Line Brigade
                               Belt.        Collar.      Shoulder Boards.           Cap Band
1st Regiment.     White.      Red.           Red.                                  Red
2nd Regiment.    White.      Red.           White.                               Red
Outlining?                              No.             No.                                   No

2nd Brigade Known as the Jaeger Brigade

1st Regiment.      Black.     Dark Green.        Light Blue.            Dark Green
2nd Regiment.     Black.     Dark Green.        Dark Green.          Dark Green
 Outlining ?                           Red.                     Red.                       Red  

Rifle Regiment                     Black.    Black.                  Red.                        Black
Outlining ?                            Red.                     No.                          Red

There were 4 active battalions per regiment and each battalion had different piping around the top of the forage cap

1st Btn.       Red
2nd Btn.      White
3rd Btn.       Light Blue
4th Btn.       Yellow

The one thing missing from this is the complete absence of any 'Guard'  Regiments. I wondered why that was the case until I realised that none of them were sent to the Crimea.

Now this is decided I can get on with the painting. I have already completed the flesh on my first regiment and will basecoat the greatcoats tomorrow.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Thank you

Just a short post this time.  I've now nearly had 1000 views since I started blogging earlier this year. Sheer madness in my view  as I wonder what on earth I have to say that anyone may find remotely interesting.

I make an assumption that many may have will stumbled across it looking for information on Red Admiral or Cabbage White butterflies rather than wargaming and to those that thought 'What on earth is this ?'  I apologise.

However I would give everyone else my sincere thanks and wish you a happy, peaceful, healthy and prosperous Christmas and New Year.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Russians are coming

Due to work commitments (shifts all changed no leave over Christmas)  I suspect I have had my last game of 2013.  As I am an upwards  sort of person I am looking forward to 2014 with some anticipation. I have made the decision to start on my 28mm Crimean figures starting with the Russians. This is for three reasons.

First is that the Russian figures I have are predominantly in greatcoats. This means less button, finery  and assorted Victorian fanciness to paint. Hopefully  this should speed up the number of figures painted per month.  At the moment I am aiming for  1 x 32 figure regiment/ month. This is probably ludicrously optimistic but if I then complete 24 figures which is probably what many would consider a 'standard' sized battalion then I will be happy. Target therefore is three battalions by the end of March.  Additionally I would like to add one 'luxury' per unit completed. This may be a smaller unit or Gun. I have found a few French infantry so adding them a few at a time will provide encouragement and boost my resolve

Secondly is that I already have some British Guards, Line and a few Highlanders completed as well as my Cherrybums (11th Hussars). The Russians will provide some opposition for them and I can have a stab at Black Powder.

Thirdly, if I can crack into the Russians I can then treat myself at Salute knowing that I have a chance of painting a reasonably balanced force. The one thing I am short of is Russian Cavalry so that is my target.

Having properly waded through the figures I will probably only need to buy a few more figures from Foundry to round out the units. This won't be too costly at  perhaps a single  or two packs per month. Not financially efficient but as the only male in a household of 5 I have to face unfair and unjust questioning of 'necessary purchases' from 4 ladies who simply neither understand or appreciate this hobby ! I will  need another Russian Infantry Command Unit or two plus the British Lancer Command at the very least.

I still haven't decided on Unit size but with Greatcoated Russians I can increase or decrease the size  with relative ease. You can't see the facing colours (and to be honest I don't know them anyway). I am fairly certain I will base them in two ranks with 4 figs per base and that also seems to be the 'industry standard'.

First task though is to clear the assorted Christmas 'rubbish' from around my painting zone.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Re basing

As I am completing my Armed Civilian unit I thought I would top and tail a few other bits and pieces before I get my teeth into the Crimea.

First up is my Interwar British Police Unit. The guts of this are complete as it has two improvised Armoured Vans and a Supervisors Staff Car. In terms of figures what I really want is to convert one or two of the pistol carrying figures and arm them with LMG's.  Courtesy of the very fast delivery from Caliver  Books, a couple of 28mm Lewis  Guns from Minifigs arrived and I have to say that the detail on them is excellent.

I also read Loki's blog entry on his basing method. I use a very similar system but use cheap filler which I can then mold accordingly. I then use Quickshade dip to both shade the base and also provide it with protection from flaking.

As an example here are a couple of scratching 15mm MG bunkers that I cobbled together out of cocktail sticks and skewers. The walls of the bunkers were built up with foam and the filler was laid over the top of that.

These are the MG nests/bunkers as they would appear at the start of the game.

This is what they end up like!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Camels and Mahdists

I have brought more of my newly acquired 'stash' home from the office and have been sorting through it whilst 'Mrs J' is at work. Amongst the goodies are a treasure trove of 15mm Essex Colonials. I counted 150 Zulu (unpainted) plus around 430 Sudanese infantry 80 cavalry, 50 camel troops and 6 field guns. The only Sudanese that aren't painted are the cavalry. Not in the style of my choosing perhaps, but they are properly painted and therefore can be used on the gaming table.

Here are the Camels and artillery

This is the mass of infantry

I am funny like this, unpainted figures are a real 'No way, Jose!' I still have nightmares of my small lovingly painted unit of Polish Lancers racing to the assistance of a pile of unpainted, unprimed and unbased Minifig Curassiers who were under attack from a heap of Russian Guard Uhlans (similarly uncontaminated by enamels). My Lancers failed to make charge contact and were then wiped out by the 3rd 'Metallic' Cossacks.  But I digress...

I was originally going to donate the Colonials but the 'butterfly' has taken grip again. For a relatively small outlay I could acquire a mid 19th Century British Colonial army that over time could be the opposition to either the Sudanese or Zulu forces. Both are 'horde' type armies and I can use a card controlled system a la Peter Guilder for Solo Gaming.....
Fortunately the figures arrived in Box Files that I can store flat in my 'Toy Cupboard'. The good Mrs J will just assume that these contain articles cut from old Gaming magazines and the pressure to otherwise dispose of them will reduce. At the very least I can delay any decision until next year!

Up until now 2013 had been a very efficient year in that not only had I painted what I had bought but I had  started completing unfinished projects as well.  At least I can have a sort out his evening and dispose/ hide the evidence. The big question for me is whether to finish the Sudanese or make a start on my Crimean Russians (especially as they are in greatcoats). At the moment the Russians are winning.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Cherrybums 11th Hussars

I have started to sort through my new Crimean figures. I would love to say that I painted these Hussars but I didn't. James told me that he even researched where the horses were branded so that the detail was correct !

My conundrum is this. I have a unit of 16 Hussars that although I may have to rebase, (still not decided on a fielder) I really don't want to spilt up. Even at a figure ratio of 1:20 that gives me a 320 strong regiment, twice the actual size of any of the Regiments in the Light Brigade at the time of the Crimean campaign.

This impacts on Infantry battalions as I don't want to have an imbalance in numbers between cavalry and infantry. What I might end up doing ( eventually) is to have one each of Hussars, Lancers and Light Dragoons representing the three Regiments who were in the 'front line' at Balaclava and 'assume' that the other units were absorbed into them. Sorry guys but the 11th are painted, the 17th were the only Lancers and the 13th Light Dragoons are my grandfather's regiment !

If I then assume that a 'standard' Infantry Batallion is commonly held to be around 24 figures I will be within the tolerances of rule sets like Black Powder. I will  have to research to see if a Russian 'line'  battalion was significantly different from its French or British peers and whether the Highland and Guard battalions were different from their Line colleagues ( I don't think they were).  Either way I will be trying to source Ospreys !

The lesson learnt is that even 'free' figures end up costing money and I haven't even started on the new paint colours and bases! The good thing is that a lot of the Russians are in greatcoats so they will be quicker to paint.

Maybe I should have thrown my hat in the ring for the  'Analogue painting' competition that starts in a week and a bit after all.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Christmas has arrived !

On of the guys that works for me (James) is clearing his loft in preparation for his retirement move next year. He is more of a painter than a gamer but is a real Victoriana 'buff'. He has an original Martini Henry rifle and Zulu Assegai in his study which also has a bust of Queen Victoria on the desk (you get the idea).

Last week he asked me if I wanted some of his old 'lead' that had been languishing unpainted in his loft and this included 'a fair bit' of Crimean War.

I arrived at work yesterday to find  boxes of 'stuff ' as James was working the weekend and had dropped it off.  Attached was a note saying 'You will like the elephant '!

When I counted up the booty found in one box file I had over 200 Foundry Brits including 30 cavalry and 3 gun teams plus about 150 Russian Infantry and Artillery !

There is no way I could ever have afforded this (leaving aside the complete Sudanese 15mm army that is in one of the other boxes he has left me). I haven't found the elephant yet....

The generosity of some people amazes me as he wants nothing for this. I have said thatt if he still refuses something I will donate to a charity of his choice.

The other option is to  get a framed Victorian Map of the World for him ( where the British Empire is shown in Red) that he can hang in his study. He has mentioned this in passing before and I know he would like one.

I'm still gobsmacked.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Game 4 - Pont de Mouette - Defenders hit back

Yesterday saw the second half of the Pont de Mouette game. Prior to the start I made a request to Ted that Squad Member CA7 (who was at the bottom of the cliff) could equip himself with two of the satchel charges formerly carried by my SBS boss ' Blondie' Hassler who was out, injured. I was told that I could, but he reminded me that the relevant part of the special rules in place for their use started with the sentence. 'Use of Satchel Charges by untrained personnel is  NOT a good idea !'

However as I was down to two satchel charge equipped troops and had not even reached the bunker doors, I had little real choice.

At the start of the game Ted started playing an MP 3 of the 'Panzerleid' on his mobile phone (the song sung at the beginning of the film 'Battle of the Bulge'). This gave warning that the German Elite troops in the Underground barracks were now roused and could be deployed.

The Allied game plan was to scale the cliffs and assault the bunker whilst the support troops and Maquis assisted by rushing to our aid from across the Ford.

Here the Maquis and the motorised column approach the now undefended Ford.

The British Commandos and Airbourne  Units jumped into the trench sections around the bunker and the Para PIAT team fire at the inland facing blast door. Although the door was damaged the PIAT' s were not able to create a viable entry point.

More Commandos reach the Cliff.

At this moment a Tobruk pit at the end of the barracks complex activated and a hail of MG42  fire was brought to bear on the immediate para unit. This unit took losses and further further pins were added by the MG in the bunker. This caused the to take a morale test and retreat away from the bunker. A fluke response from the Para Unit at the other end of the barracks put paid to the gunner who collapsed back into the Tobruk pit.

The Commandos and Paras now encircled the bunker and the occupants were reduced to tossing grenades out of the weapon slits. The remaining Royal MarInes were by now swarming up the ropes along the cliff edge.

The HQ section made their way to the seaward door equipped with satchel charges under cover of darkness.

Typical! A roll of 1 meant that (according to our house rules)  the charge had not been correctly set and the result would be determined the following turn.

Meanwhile the arriving MarInes attracted the unwanted attention of a flame thrower that was housed inside the bunker. This obliterated the figures on the Cliff and gave what was left of the section 5 pins.  Immediately this attracted the attention of all remaining units in view who generated Fire orders in an attempt to suppress the units inside.

Unbelievable, a further roll of a 1 ( in effect a double 1) meant that the figures surrounding the blast door were located to the casualty tray as the errant sapphire fumbled his satchel charge and blew himself and his colleagues into the afterlife. This left my untrained  squadrons and a frame charge team (who were still at the bottom of the cliff) as the remaining teams with charges that could open the bunker doors.

Craig had, by now, started firing smoke shells to the barracks side of the bunker This enabled him to rally his decimated Paras and also gave cover to the second section who were securing the AA gun. The motorised column had also driven towards the complex from the Ford and was adding to the fire laid at the bunker.

Jo destroyed a second Commando Unit who had been hiding in the mortar pit and had thenn made an ill timed and careless move along the trench towards the bunker. In an attempt to Rally the troops Lord Lovat used his command skills as well as MP3 audio of 'Blue Bonnets over the Border' played by Piper Millen to rally the troops. ( On the Unit Roster 'bagpipes' was shown under 'Weapon' for Millen). The squirl/cacophony of the pipes only encouraged a further rendition of ' Panzerleid' from Ted and several Hunting Horn MP 3 tones from Craig !

We were only put out of our misery when Millen strayed too close to an aperture and paid the price fir his carelessness.

Here You can see the smoke rounds as they are blown towards the camera. Craig was lucky with the wind direction as it made maximum use of the smoke and impeded Jo's troops in the bunker.

Commando CA7 arrives at the door and, notwithstanding the strong advice NOT to use untrained individuals sets the charge. By some miracle he then passes the tests allowing the charge to detonate correctly the following turn.

A unit of American Special Forces dismounted from their transport and made straight for the ventilation intakes on top of the barracks.At the same time a flame throwing unit enters the trench section by the barracks.

The last turn saw the flame thrower fire into the aperture in the trench section killing the troops under the Tobruk pit.

At the same time the US Social Forces ked by All American Running Back 'Jim Brown' made his dash along the roof of the barracks dropping canisters into each of the air intakes. Jo was powerless. The barracks complex was blocked at both ends and the elite troops inside met a speedy demise as the canisters contained Hydrodgen Cyanide.

At this point we ended the game. The Allies had met their primary victory condition in not allowing the barracks troops to exit and leave the table. Although Jo still had troops in the bunker a breach had been made and it was only a matter of time before the garrison inside were overwhelmed.

The game was closer than it appeared. The troops in and around the bunker took a severe mauling. The problem for Jo was that his best soldiers were in the barracks and he either couldn't or didn't get them out. The smoke was a factor and the wind direction was certainly in favour of the allies. If it had been in any other direction then the units on the barrack roof would have been far more exposed to MG fire.

We all thought that the Bolt Action rules played well. They have variety and generate uncertainty. By using different die colours for the French, British Commando, British Airbourne and US you can place some constraints without compromising the feel of the game. Pinning is effective so much so that some units were laying down suppression on one MG post in order to inflict pins and reduce the effectiveness of the MG.

The next game will probably be the assault on the Chateau which takes place simultaneously to this game.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Back to painting

We had intended to continue with the Pont de Mouette game last Friday but unfortunately work has got in the way of enjoyment and the game has been postponed by a week. As a consequence I was able to 'lay down' some acrylic paint and reduce my lead mountain to something more like a small hillock.

I have been quite responsible in the recent past and have tended not to buy and 'store' figures  on a whim. That is, of course if you exclude my 10mm Pendraken Austrian army I bought at Salute !

As a result I am now down to my final batch of 'Armed Civilians' that I can use for Maquis, VBCW, ACE or Weird War depending on the circumstances. We are now using Bolt Action rules and I can be confident of fielding the following platoon sized unit in the very near future.

3 x Sections each containing a LMG, SMG and 8 Rifles
1 x Command Unit of 4 figures (plus VBCW flag bearers if needed)
1 x Anti Tank Section with Boys Rifle
1x Demolition/Sabateur Section of 4 figures with explosives

I am working on the basis that the Demolition Section effectively replaces a Support Section found in a more conventional Platoon/ Zug. The only thing I will be short on is vehicles so I suppose I will be trawling eBay for Lledo trucks next month.

This weekend I have managed to get 80% of the last section finished. On top of that I found a few 'spare' Artizan figures that I have painted. These include a couple of 'Naval' types one armed and one unarmed as well as the Artizan Priest and Cprl Millar figures. The sailors may get used in the next 'big' game when we play that in the early part of next year

If these aren't' t finished by Friday then they will be pretty close to it. At least the end is in sight and I am getting the satisfaction that I suspect most people feel when they finally ' finish' a unit.

I have started putting the occasional non combatant figure in the painting mix as well. These figures add life and spice to the table and can occasionally be a gaming distraction but the variety they provide whilst painting rank and file gives encouragement to finish the task.

I had been contemplating where to go next figure wise, but I think my arm may have been forced. One of the guys at work is in the process of clearing out his loft prior to moving and has ' found' what he describes as 'hundreds' of figures. From what he has said it looks like I will be heading to the Crimea with a load of Foundry figures in tow.

Still that may be the excuse I need to buy Black Powder even if I find it more difficult to justify the Vickers Mk CO Light Tank and BEF support.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Game 4 - Pont de Mouette - The Assault Commences

Whilst the Royal Marine Commandos start to scale the cliffs, the first unit of Paratroops is dropped from above, albeit a turn or two late. The first such 'stick' is grouped bang on target with the exception of the weapons canister which lands in a mined area covered in barbed wire. As can be seen below a Roll of 1 meant that both the canister and the unfortunate Para who had been volunteered to pluck it from the wire were removed from play.

More Commandos disembark from the landing craft. Further and repeated rolls of 1 indicated that the supposedly agile Commandos had fallen whilst scaling the cliffs. Jo's defenders were simultaneously cutting the ropes from the grapples at the top of the cliff adding to the injury count. Surviving soldiers are evacuated to the LCA.

More units of Paratroops land and head towards the barracks complex (foreground).
In the distance the British 3" mortars are now firing smoke to try to disrupt the activities of the 'Heer' troops in the bunker.

I would point out that Communications between the Para Commander (Craig) and myself had to be routed through the Umpire (Ted) using a notebook, as the Mk 38  Radio Sets we were using for communications within the game were deemed unreliable. A plethora of 1's (despite changing colours of D6 on several occasions)  meant that the only radio transmissions that were decipherable amounted to the ever helpful ' Climb the B***** cliff Nige ! and the response of  ' I can't, I keep falling off !'

After a second support canister was lost to a minefield a Para unit emerged at the far end of the Bunker and put paid to the mortar unit that had set up in the weapons pit. Finally Commandos started to reach the summit of the Cliff and localised superiority forced the few remaining German troops back into the bunker.

The terrain looks as awesome close up as it does from a distance.

The Paras started to take casualties from the MG nests in the bunker and sought cover in the dead ground at the bottom of the wall.

As dawn breaks the Paras are on top of the barracks complex and Commando and Paratroops have cleared the area around the bunker. In the distance the gliderbourne support troops have finally made it to the table with their Maquis guides.

The next game is planned for a week tomorrow. This was our first outing using Bolt Action rules and I think we were all happy with them. The predictability of IgoUgo has been broken and there is a clear advantage in keeping units in game, if only to maximise the order dice you have available.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Game 4 - Pont de Mouette - Opening moves

We are using the Bolt Action Rules with additional house rules introduced for the early stages of the game. These apply to things like Sentry awareness, spotting, paradrops, mine clearing and the  beach landing. This is the first time we have used Bolt Action and as there are three player (plus umpire) we have order dice 'in the bag' representing British, British Para, German and a solitary French die. As the French are partizans the fact that they are 'irregular' is reflected by the sole die restricting when they can be activated. I thought that was a good idea.
Mixed blessings for the Allies at the start of the night. For once the weather gods were in our favour and the SBS Kayaks had no problems with either wind or tide in making their way to the landing beach both on time and unharmed.
 Kayaks are scratch built by Ted.

It took only one turn for things to start going horribly wrong. Firstly the glider units landed safely (off table) but they were then incapable of meeting up with their Maquis Guides. The Allied heavy weapon support was therefore delayed for another 5 turns.
Secondly, the supposedly elite 'Expo' of the second SBS Kayak unfortunately detonated one of the mines attached to the beach defence he was trying to quietly defuse. The fact that he was also carrying two Satchel charges whilst he was doing this only enhanced the noise generated and alerted the otherwise comatose German sentries.
 The power of the explosion was sufficient to vibrate the tripod of this long range photograph! Attempts by Maj Hasler the SBS Commander to pass all of this off as the activities of an errant Seagull fail dismally.
 German troops slowly emerge from the bunker to investigate the unexpected noise. As they do so a landing craft emerges from the gloom and starts to disembark the Royal Marine Commandos equipped with Grappling Mortars

As the Royal MarInes disembark the first grapples are fired and the defending units emerge from the bunker.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Game 4 - Pont de Mouette RAF Raid

These are the results of the planned RAF raid to soften up the defences. In 1940's terminology I think the effects amount to 'naff all'!

Game 4 - Pont de Mouette, Recce Photos

Here are some of the pre game photos that Ted has sent. He has spent a fair amount of time building up the playing surface. The cliffs are 9in high.

This is the view of the Table  from the sea.  The bunker is on the right as you look and the barracks are to the left. the wooded area at the far end is where the Glider troops will come from.

Here is a closer view of the bunker complex as approached from the sea

In the foreground we have the barracks  and the bunker is to the rear

Another view of the bunker. The complex must extend underground. Craig and I have divided up the responsibility for dealing with these

Our plan has been formulated, probability of everything going to plan ? 1% if that

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Game 4 -,Pont de Mouette

A lengthy period has elapsed since my last blog. Lets just call it real life !
The next game is called Pont de Mouette and it is scheduled for this coming Friday. The last few days have seen frantic exchanges of emails and new information being disseminated piecemeal by Ted.
I will post pictures of the new gaming table that Ted has built (which includes a 9 inch cliff face) as soon as I wrest the iPad from my daughter Ver 1.3  Impressive is an understatement, but more of that anon.
In terms of date and time Pont de Mouette is to be gamed simultaneously with Game 4 which is a covert mission into a Chateau.
For practical reasons we cant obviously run both games at once but this scenario has the ability to influence the Chateau game.
Whilst agents and Commando's infiltrate the Chateau a plan has been created by Allied Command  to neutralise the Bunker Complex on top of the cliffs at the Pont de Mouette.
The bunker complex sits close to the cliff face with seaward facing defences. Inland a smaller bunker protects access to he complex via a road that passes through a ford.
Information on numbers disposition and troop quality of the defenders are limited at this time (My Maquis spies have not yet returned).
It is intended to hold the Defenders within the confines of the bunker complex and to prevent them from reinforcing the Chateau.
This will be a Combined Operation using Air, Land and Sea.
1) A Glider force including some heavier equipment will land, meet their Maquis guides and then travel overland to intercept any units leaving the Bunker and support the assault.
2) A seabourne  assault led by Kayaks from the Royal Marine Boom Patrol Detachment (RMBPD) will land on the beach at the bottom of the cliffs seaward of the bunker, clear the beach and facilitate a strike team of RM Commandos who will then scale the cliffs and assault the bunker.
3) Concurrently a force of paratroops will be dropped on top of the bunker and will assault it in conjunction with their RM comrades.
Three operations all timed to concide with a 4am start time - what could go wrong ..... Clearly the chief planning officer is in line for Chairmanship of the Guild of Village Idiots!
That being said Craig has the Para's , I have the Royal Marines and Jo has the Germans.
Cue feverish planning.....
This scenario is Bruneval meets Eben Emael meets Op Frankton meets The Dirty Dozen. I only hope that Ted misses the Tiger Tanks from Kellys Heroes

Monday, 12 August 2013

Osprey is on Kindle

Oh dear, I''ve just discovered that the Ospreys are available on Kindle. Unfortunately the Amazon account is in my wife's name so she will 'find out' .

You can only get away with one not knowing about one click buying once once so I might as well make it worthwhile

Friday, 9 August 2013

Holiday Frustration

I am on holiday in the West of England. I love the area, I love the surf and I love the Beer. Even the sun has made the decision to come out and I spent a whole day at the beach without even a hint of rain.

So why is it that I feel frustrated ? I spent the morning glued to an Ordnance Survey Map and have been able to bore the girls with finding the site of 'Braddock Down'  1643 as mentioned in an article in the last issue of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy. If you are really interested what is described as West Tophouse is now known as West Taphouse and it is off the A390 between Liskeard and Lostwithiel.

Am I suffering from a lack of internet access alongside my 15 year old daughter who is pining for her boyfriend. Anyone who knows Cornwall will realise that 3G coverage is sporadic and Wifi is a luxury unless you can piggyback access at a cafe or hotel. As a consequence I am unable to Google stuff at will as it comes into my mind (Crete 1941 - I am reading an Ian Gale novel) or check to see what Vallejo paint is the equivelant of GW Elf Flesh or vica versa.

I cant even check Blogger to see what other people are up to as phone reception in the cottage is awful unless you lean out of the bedroom window (it has always been thus).

Most of all I miss the 'opportunity' to paint. It is the opportunity to do so rather than the actuality that is the issue. I have some more partizans that need finishing before the next game (that will give me over 30) and I have a hankering to buy and paint a full strength Early War British Platoon in 28mm. I also want a Vickers MkVI tank  to go with them.

This year has been productive in terms of painting for me. All my 'Salute' purchases are finished with the exception of a radio truck for my 15mm Luftwaffe Felddivision and my 10mm Austrians. I have also finished some Artizan and additional Foundry figures (all 28mm). As I was on a roll before I came away I think I want to hit the ground running when I get back hence my frustration.

This is coupled with two really enjoyable recent games.  I know Ted is terrain building at the moment and I suspect we will move towards  Bolt Action rules although I like the look of  Chain of Command by the Lardies.

Perhaps it is the prospect of another good game in the near future that is flirting and toying with my gaming tastebuds.

Either way, although I will be sad when we come home after a break that was really 'needed'  at least I have something to look forward to

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Combat Stress - off topic

I was at work yesterday and met a guy who was at school with and was friends with my cousin. He confirmed what I had long suspected in that my cousin left the British Army suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)  and filled me in with some of the details. Like many who leave this was was never identified as being the reason and he had no support after he left. I rather suspect he suffered in silence for far too long and couldn't or wouldn't speak to his friends or family about it.

The conflict in the Balkans in the 1990's was a particularly nasty and inhumane affair and my cousin was out there in a 'peacekeeping' role. From what I understand the 'rules of engagement' were so strict that he saw incidents that he wanted to stop or prevent but was not allowed to do so. This obviously played on his mind with inevitable consequences.

In the UK my preferred charity,  Combat Stress, supports those who suffer PTSD after they leave the Services. Henry Hyde of Battlegames was a prime mover in getting this charity some publicity.

There are similar charities in other countries. I've just made another donation to Combat Stress. No one deserves to go through what my cousin saw but if they do the least I can do is help them try to deal with it through charities like these

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Recent Recruits

I have been busy at work recently whilst at the same time I have had to delay painting the rest of my partisans due to to family  holiday 'preparations', which in my case means clothes left on top of my painting area. I rather suspect that I won't have time to get anything else done before we disappear to the West Country for a couple of weeks.

I have, however, realised that I failed to produce a close up of the GPO (General Post Office) rocket team that I bought at Salute and finished a mere two months later. This was the team that so spectacularly failed to hit anything at all throughout the course of the entire game. Useless !
My father is something of a stamp collector but his knowledge of 1930's Post Office  uniforms amounted to 'dark blue I think'. So much for the esteemed membership of the GB Philatelic Society then! As a result I guessed but they have come out OK.

I like Musketeer Miniatures and I especially like the fact that Bill will bring out something 'different' for those of us that are not talented converters. I know that is always a risky prospect for a manufacturer which is why I have tended to support his range of Interwar figures.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Small Unit Tactics

I have spent the last three days working at a music festival. One of the benefits (aside from the overtime grafted though stupidly long hours) was the opportunity of chatting to and generally chewing the cud with Dave Brown, author of the General de Brigade rules, who was working the event with me.  I have known Dave professionally for years but it wasn't until a year or so ago that I put two and two together over our mutual hobby interest.

He was telling me that he is approaching the final stages of completing a rework of his WW2 company sized rules Battlegroup Panzer Grenadier at the moment.This was followed by an interesting discussion over the power of sustained fire Medium Machine Guns in WW2.

Given the recent debacle in my last game and the pre read that Ted has given me for the next,  the issue of tactics in attacking a defended position arose. As a 'youngster' I admit that I failed to see the point of the humble 2in mortar as used by British and Commonwealth troops but as I 'approach' middle age it is now instantly clear that I would like loads of them to lay down a real 'Pea souper' of a smoke cloud next time I attack.

Funnily enough Rich Clarke of 'Lardies' fame addresses the same issue in the most recent issue of Miniature Wargames. I have to say that I am a British doctrine style player by nature  rather than one who prefers the straight use of suppressing fire. Equally I am not the sort of person that could adopt Red Army or Korean War type wave attacks. My old gaming partner of yore had the flaming red hair to match a Commissar's mentality and regularly threw hordes of conscripts towards me from one side of the table to the other with sometimes inevitable consequences. The fact that I used the word as sometimes probably indicates why this strategy continued.

What struck me was how the same topic of thought arose at the same time to three different people. Now it is time to cancel my order of figures who were to be my U/E Boat Crew and look for some Early War Tommies and a Mark VI Vickers Light Tank that I can paint up as my grandfather's. (or perhaps I will just 'forget' to cancel the sailors!).

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Game 3 - The Farm - I have no one left to debrief !

This was a sorry state of affairs. A comprehensive and complete victory for Craig. You only have to see my casualty box fill up as the day went on. Normally my figures are insulated from the elements but this might give you a hint of my frustration !

Where did I go wrong?

 I had nothing really capable of stopping his vehicles. My ATR and 6pdr couldn't hit a barn door at 6 feet. Not a single hit between them all game. My rocket unit was 'experimental' so it was bound to fail.

Even if I had declared or asked for some of my units to be equipped with Panzerfausts or similar Craig's vehicles were never really close enough  to make an impact with the exception of the Sdkfz 250. The Lysander was my main asset but it never had a chance of landing.

I will chalk this one up as 'one of those things'.

One final thought. The 'rule of the new figure' was in evidence today. Brand new Panther - breaks down on the first move. Brand new Panzer IV - breaks down. Brand new Rocket Artillery - fails to hit a thing.  Brand new Commando Unit - appears ' at random' right in front of two tanks with predictable consequences !

Game 3 - The Farm - I need a new plan

At the first available opportunity I ordered the Lysander to make a strafing run along the route of the proposed landing site in an attempt to stop the pioneers from ruining it. I had mixed success and was able to immobilise the truck but the pioneers were able to manhandle their explosive drums out of the back. The following round I targeted the Panzer IV that was heading East towards the farm with my sole bombing run. I missed ( the story of the day for me) and this directly led to the complete annihilation of the Commando Unit. The sole survivor was the Sergeant who avoided being shot whilst tanding out in the open ground.

At the northern end of the farmyard my my partisans were caught in enfilade fire by the dismounted troops from the Hanonag. In two turns I lost a whole unit including the leader Paul Camembert. Another unit of German riflemen approached the farmhouse from the North.

It was at this point that the 81mm mortar section conveniently found their range and scored a direct hit on my 6per gun. Compounding the rapidly worsening situation was the irritating Lt Gruber Gruber who was leading a charmed life in his Sdkfz 222. He seemed to be able to drive around at will shooting up any of my units that were visible.

It was clear now that I would be unable to land the Lysander. I simply had no units that were capable of taking out his armoured vehicles and the Panzer IV was lumbering inexorably towards the landing site. I decided that I would try and create a small corridor along the centre of the table, race my jeep from the 'garage' at the Eastern Table edge to the farm, drag the professor and Yvette on board and try and escape off of the western table edge.  I thought I was in with a chance as the next round saw the Panzer IV break down.

In order to give myself a turn or two to accomplish this I ordered the Lysander to make two South/North starting runs just to the West of the farmhouse. In a straight line I hoped to pin (in order) the pioneers, the squad who had decamped from the Sdkfz 250, avoid hitting my squad in the road and then strafe the German Squad who were approaching from the North. Needless to say this was doomed to failure. Almost inevitably the squad who suffered the most damage were my own. Compounding matters the Germans returned fire at the Lysander damaging the engine. With glycol pouring out of the engine cover the aircraft returned to England, the parting words of the resistance were that they suggested the rear seat gunner attended Gunnery School.

Notwithstanding this I was already committed to this escape. As my jeep hurtled down the road Yvette and the Professor made their way from the farmhouse. It was typical that it was at this point that the mortar team accidentally dropped rounds significantly short of their intended intended but slap bang on top of the escaping duo. As the dust settled there was no trace of Yvette and the Professor lay mortally wounded..

The jeep approached the duo and picked up the professor but as they started to drive off they were confronted by the German backtrack that had turned to face them in the country lane.

The result was inevitable.....

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Game 3 - The Farm - The Lysander(and others) arrive

Aimed rocket fire at Gruber was awful and the only damage was a dirty great hole in the potential landing strip. At the same time Craig was dropping oil drums and Pioneers out of the back of his truck and the troops north of the farm were making slow but steady progress. Gruber then suppressed my rocket team with 20mm cannon fire and at this point I declared that I would reveal my 6pdr and attempted to blow Gruber to smithereens.
Awful dice rolling or alternatively 'lack of familiarity or experience in handling the weapon'  resulted in abject failure. This only encouraged the German 81mm mortar team to shell the barnyard with gay abandon.

Meanwhile to the West one of the Boyes crew met his demise whilst the motorcyclists in the open also became casualties. Of partisan rifle fire from the orchard. Craig seized a chance to split my forces forecast sending his APC between the orchard and the farmhouse. However as his men debussed into the orchard they were met by small arms fire from the upstairs Windows of the farmhouse suppressing the MG crew in the open topped vehicle and driving some of his battle hardened troops to ground.

As the attention of the partisans in the woods had been drawn by the APC and the squad it carried, the pioneers continued to lay down oil drums of what I suspected to be High Explosives.  I was also notified that a squad of Royal Marine Commandos who had been expected for some time had appeared at the far South  Western corner of the table. Freshly recruited (painted)  the team of 10 emerged from the woods with the instructions to make their way to the farmhouse. (The exact entry point was entirely random based in dice throws).

At the same time German reinforcements also appeared on the table. Straight from the repair depot and rushed with great haste to support this operation a prototype Panther and a Panzer IV G lumbered onto the table. Unfortunately for my commandos they appeared on the road right by the side of the woods that the the Commandos had just exited. Bad fortune goes both ways however and the Panther immediately rolled  double 1 on 2d6. Whoever had been responsible for the refit had obviously put put more  attention into the paint job rather than the engine.  The engine misfired then stalled and then died with no hope of recovery.

(It was not worth taking a picture if the Commandos , they were not on the table ling enough !)

To the North a Hanonag turned a corner rather too closely to an inauspicious looking milk churn which was then detonated by hard wired plunger. Losing the front  wheel the APC shuddered to a halt.

My suspicions proved true when the oil drums were set off by pencil fuses. The clear intent was to crater the runway. I exchanged fire with the Panzergrenadiers in the orchard and rushed and killed one in hand to hand combat. My glee was short lived as a well thrown grenade took out 3 of my partisans. To the east another squad of 5 Partisans  left the barn and ran west to support their colleagues in the orchard.

Grubers little tank had by now reached the rear of the barn and was engaging with my Bren carrier in the race eastern enclosure. At this time my sporadic contact with Grey Ghost confirmed  the Lysanders arrival