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.