Tuesday, 23 January 2018

New Russian Threat?

Better get my moderns down from the loft (see BBC News link below):

Monday, 22 January 2018

Al Stewart - Roads to Moscow (WWII Themed Song for the upcomingChain of Command Stalingrad Campaign)

From "The Year of the Cat" to "Roads to Moscow" (sung from a Russian soldier's perspective) Al Stewart plays them all:


You Tube:

I particularly like this verse from the middle of the song ..
... Two broken Tigers on fire in the night. Flicker their souls to the wind. We wait in the lines for the final approach to begin. It's been almost four years that I've carried a gun. At home it will almost be spring. The flames of the Tigers are lighting the road to Berlin. Ah, quickly we move through the ruins that bow to the ground. The old men and children they send out to face us, they can't slow us down. And all that I ever. Was able to see. The eyes of the city are opening. Now it's the end of the dream ...
While I am talking about WWII Eastern Front you have got to check out Service Rations Distribution posts on his Kursk and Stalingrad games:


General WW2 Stuff from SRB

Re: Song - I am just showing my age! It also demonstrates the power of the Internet and Google's search engine as I could not remember the title of the song. So I type in "Al Stewart General Guderian". Al Stewart is fair enough but the reference to General Guderian comes from a line in another verse, but it came back with a decent match.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

New Year Wargaming Targets:

Rather than make a host of rash New Years Resolutions I have eased myself into 2018 and decided some First Quarter Goals (as in American Football it is always good to put some points on the board early on in the first quarter of the game):

  • Simulating War, Fire and Movement Game: Play a "Skype" Game with a Distant Friend
  • Portable Wargame: Replay the WWII Scenario from the Book with my 20mm WWII Kit
  • Paint a Platoon of Stalingrad Soviet Infantry Figures (28mm) for WWII Chain of Command
  • Paint a Platoon of Stalingrad Soviet Infantry Figures (20mm) for WWII Chain of Command
  • Play a Game of Star Gruntz (15mm Sci-Fi)
  • Play a Game of Modern Chain of Command (28mm: Other People's Figures)

All of the above by the end of March (31st March 2018)

Friday, 19 January 2018

Russo-Jap War Naval: Port Arthur Break Out (Part 6) Freedom or Death?

Yet another similar looking Russian photo of the "enraged" cruiser action (the lighter ships do seem to get hurt when they get hit). A this point the Japanese cruisers seem to have the upper hand. The Russian battleships seem to have a fairly straightforward run off table (see below):

A vicious round of gunfire sees a damaged Japanese battleship (red hit) top left, in the middle of the battle line, but in return a pounding of the Russian flagship causing a critical hit, a steering jam pointing her to the side of the table (away from the target bottom edge) and a morale failure which hurts even further the thought/chance of getting off table [insert Japanese smile "emoji"]. Meanwhile another "silenced" Russian protected cruiser but a huge crippling explosion on the lead Japanese protected cruiser ("silenced and dead in the water"). Additionally the Mikasa is majestically leading the two damaged armoured cruisers is leading the ad-hoc formation (the armoured cruisers are actually using their own command dice) back into the fray (see below):

Not caught on camera was the escape of the battered Russian protected cruisers to Vladivostok via courtesy of the of the world/table edge "fog bank". The Russian battleships were in chaos as despite fixing the steering the Russian flagship could not fix its morale as quickly. So as they headed for the wrong edge of the table the remaining (one had sunk) Japanese protected cruisers sallied forth in a "do or die" torpedo attack on the meandering Russian First Battleship Division. They took severe damage from the Russian battleships but also managed to silence the last remaining Russian cruiser [the Rurik I think] in the run in (see below):

A lot of action was missed but this photograph helps in a way fill in the missing gaps. In the top of the picture (middle) the old (obsolete) Japanese battleships are departing along with the Japanese protected cruisers. For all their valor they (the protected cruisers) scored no hits with their torpedoes. They did however delay the Russian battleships to allow the Japanese (modern) battleships and armoured cruisers to close to effective range. The Second Russian Battleship Division is seen middle right. It has to be said the Japanese obsolete battleships still managed to deliver telling blows on each Russian battleship, as all the Russians carry a red permanent damage marker. Honour, praise and respect for their courageous commander (aka we all thought he would get sunk). Down at the bottom of the picture the First Russian Battleship Division is making its bid for freedom. However the Japanese Battleship Squadron is "peppering" their tail vigorously. The Japanese armoured cruisers are once again in the fray in a supporting fire role [the lead two ships on the left], but trying not to block "line of sight" from the bigger more deadly battleship calibre guns (see below): 

The Russians are in the home stretch, they can literally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Then "kazam!" there is a huge explosion from the last in line Russian battleship [First Division], as she goes from "damaged", to "silenced", to then "crippled" (aka dead in the water). To remove the crippled status it would take too many "Command Points" so the Russian Admiral pragmatically knows she is doomed. Lightning then strikes twicw. "Kaboom!" In the background the Second Russian Battleship Division's rear ship also suffers a critical hit leaving her chugging along at half speed. Not what you wanted when you were two "full speed" turns from exiting! (see below):

Another "almost duplicate" Russian photograph. The only thing to add was that the unfortunate half-speed Russian battleship also became silenced (see below, well actually she is the one Russian ship you cannot see is off table top left silenced):

End Game: 

The game as it ended (there was a family keen to sit down and eat their supper) as night fell. Where have all the Russians gone? All off to Vladivostok I suspect apart from one crippled stationary battleship and one critically damaged half speed battleship (their names sadly escaped me) that the Japanese have eyes on sinking. A third lingers top right but will depart into the "end of the world" fog bank with her next move and there is nothing the Japanese can do about it (see below):

The verdict?

Well most of the Russian Fleet is off table heading to a friendly port (albeit some perhaps looking a bit like a battered colander). However they are shell torn (certainly the cruisers) and battle worn (battleship wise) but are free from imprisonment. The Japanese Admiral was keen to claim the two Russian "limpers" as sunk or captured. That would mean an even 4:4 ratio in battleships, but Tojo also has a squadron of armoured cruisers. Yes he did lose a couple of protected cruisers (and a few more damaged) but it was the battleships he was after. A tactical win! Now strategically the Russian can feel more happy. As he knows the Second Pacific Squadron (along with the Third Pacific Battle Squadron) is en route (if they can get past the Hull fishing fleet that is). So when they turn up instead on a breakthrough to Vladivostok Operation Mark II, Togo is facing a potential "pincer movement" and a fight for his life well outnumbered in modern battleships (the Russin "Borodino" class to be exact).

Tactical: Japanese

Strategic: Russian Advantage

The rules: Simple and brilliant, highly recommended, all I have to do is now go away and read them! As it was a "spontaneous game" we had just thrown a mat down without consideration about the "table edge end of the world" syndrome. Not a great matter here but something to consider for more meaningful campaign games .. where results from one game get pushed into another. The sum of little things counting!

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Russo-Jap War Naval: Port Arthur Break Out (Part 5) Tooth and Claw

The Russian Admiral seemed to like to take very similar "pairs" of photographs. Perhaps Russian intelligence has developed a stereoscopic 3D image viewer? Anyway, top left you can see a pesky Russian destroyer flotilla have laid a defensive smokescreen to cunningly shield the main squadron of Japanese battleships from hitting the First Russian Battleship Squadron. Over to top right, the reverse situation is in play where a Japanese destroyer flotilla shield the Japanese Obsolete Battleship Squadron from Russian battleships. Meanwhile the two squadrons of protected cruisers (one Japanese and one Russian) fight it out at the bottom of the picture. One Russian protected cruiser has received critical rudder damage and it sailing in the "wrong direction". To the left hand side the Mikasa and the two Japanese armoured cruisers have reformed from their disorder and are attempting to reenter the battle. The Russians are hoping to vigorously "punch through" (see below):

The same scene from a slightly different angle. The Russian heavy forces look like they might just have enough momentum to push on through, if the Japanese Protected Cruiser Squadron can be disposed of (see below):

The smokescreens dissipate and a maelstrom of battleship gunfire erupts. Although it is within effective range the renewed opening bout of salvos are strangely bloodless. The Russian destroyer flotilla (now without torpedoes) which has strayed too close to the Japanese Battleship Squadron is however "damaged" for its troubles. The major conflict here is between the protected cruisers at the bottom of the picture  (see below):

Spot the difference? A missing orange tape measure? Note the Mikasa bottom left, taking "a pop" at the protected cruisers (see below):

Again the Russian Admiral was keen to take "composite" shots of the scene from various slightly different angles. Nice photographic composition (see below):

Note: The edge of the table seen [right] below is no good as the Russian Fleet has to escape to the bottom of the table, past the Japanese protected cruisers.

Panning out you can just see the "exit table edge" to the right hand side and the orange Japanese tape measure on the left hand side (see below, bottom right):

The cruiser action up close. In the initial exchange the Japanese were besting the Russians as all the Russian ships were carrying permanent "red damage" markers. It is just the question as to whether the Japanese can get in a killing blow. A second hit is "silenced", but a third would be "crippled". The only thing to add is that the Russian battleship van is also "carrying damage" with two out of three of the battleships carrying a "red" hit (see below):

The battle is approaching its climax!

Next: The Final Push

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Russo-Jap War Naval: Port Arthur Break Out (Part 4) A Crisis Point in the Breakout Battle

The battle has formed as the Japanese Admiral Togo wants it. He it heavily engaged with a portion of the Russian battle fleet (thus having a slight numerical 4:3 advantage) and is trading blows to his advantage. Also by threatening to cross the Russian "tee" they are changing course, The old obsolete Japanese battle squadron (made of captured ex-Chinese battleships) is catching up and his protected cruisers are on course to intercept the Russian protected cruisers. Tojo is much more interested in stopping the Russian battleships from escaping than anything else (see below):

A close up of the battleship action sees that the Japanese have traded two 'red damage' hits given to one taken. At this point it is critical they follow up and cripple the engaged Russian battleship squadron by pressing home and taking the initiative (see below):

However the Japanese Admiral faces a dilemma as at the rear of his battle line, where the armoured cruisers are stationed in a separate division, they have been worsted by the Russian protected cruisers and long range battleship gunnery from the second Russian battleship squadron. The lead armoured cruiser is silenced with critical steering damage, swinging out of line of battle (see below):

Suddenly all is chaos. There is a profusion of destroyers laying defensive smoke screens (using the ever so useful 'belly button fluff' from the tumble dryer). A Russian destroyer flotilla shielding herself from the long range fire of Japanese obsolete battleships (see below, top left), a Japanese destroyer flotilla shielding the obsolete Japanese battleships from the Russian second battleship squadron (see below top right) and finally retreating armoured cruisers from the Russian protected cruisers and long range Russian battleship fire (see below, bottom right). Confused? That's how the battle was. Very confusing! In addition to all the smoke the Mikasa had suffered a second red hit silencing her and in addition took a critical steering hit. This deluge of damage demanded a morale test which Togo failed (in a very untimely and uncharacteristic way) and the Mikasa sadly limped out of line (see below bottom left above the Japanese protected cruiser squadron). The three remaining Japanese battleships still managed to maintain contact with the Russian first battleship squadron, keeping the contest "hot" (see below):

The Russian Admiral senses a chance to achieve his "breakout". He is over half-way down the table [two thirds if you look at the lead Russian protected cruiser squadron -see below bottom/middle right] and the Japanese barrier of impenetrable (mostly British made Vickers Armstrong) steel has been broken into three parts. The obsolete Japanese battleships are engaging the Russian second battleship squadron to their disadvantage, the three Japanese battleships are crossing the reverse "tee" of the Russian first battleship squadron and Mikasa has been recovered (spending lots of command points to remove the second red damage marker indicating "silenced") and has formed a composite battle squadron (see below, middle/bottom left) with the disengaged Japanese armoured cruisers. Finally the Japanese protected cruisers have positioned themselves in a good place to cross the Russian protected cruisers "tee" (see below):

The Japanese commander has command and control headaches. Togo needs to bring the disparate elements of his battle squadron together and attack the Russian battle squadron before they "turn the corner". This may mean sacrificing the obsolete battleships (well fully committing them .. to almost assured destruction ) and bringing the Mikasa back into the action as soon as possible. The down side is that the Russian Admiral, with an uncharacteristic national attribute (for a 1904-05 Russian Admiral), has been astute, resolute and has managed to coordinate and concentrate his forces effectively.

Note: At this point the Japanese Admirals camera phone "ran out of power". Fear not, the Russian Admiral took over and has supplied photographs from the "Russian perspective" of the second half of the battle. The "race to the edge of the table/world".

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Russo-Jap War Naval: Port Arthur Break Out (Part 3) Fire All Guns that bear at the Bear!

The Russian destroyers sweep past their Japanese counterparts unabashed and bravely face the "obsolete Japanese battleship's secondary armament" which proves to still have teeth as well as ornate paintwork. One Russian destroyer flotilla is "dispersed" (some sunk, some damaged and some morale broken) and takes no further part in the battle. The second Russian destroyer flotilla conducts a torpedo attack but is unsuccessful (see below, red shell splashes indicate where the first Russian destroyer flotilla used to be):

From the "viewpoint of the gods". The Russian Fleet is steaming down the middle of the table, bar the destroyer attack on the top right of the photograph. The objective of the Russian Admiral is to breakout to Vladivostok with as much as his fleet as possible. The Japanese have him hemmed in on three sides (see below, Togo and the battle fleet to the bottom, protected cruisers to the left and obsolete battleships to the right):

The Japanese main battle line find the range of the leading Russian battleships. The Japanese Admiral chose (unwisely) to engage opposites and thus spread damage along the enemy battle line, whereas the Russian Admiral chose to concentrate his fire on the Mikasa (and Admiral Togo) and try and take him out of the battle (see below):

The IJN Mikasa bears the brunt of the Russian fire but sails majestically on (see below):

Meanwhile the Russian "protected cruisers" come into range of the two Japanese "armoured cruisers" trailing the main Japanese battle line and score a damaging hit on the leading Russian ship (see below):

Good shooting by the Russians "returns the compliment" and the IJN Nishin is rather unexpectedly damaged in the exchange of fire. At this juncture the Russians are in danger of having their "tee" crossed but paradoxically they need to surge through the enemy lines at all costs (see below):

Telling blows are being landed at this point. The Russians and Japanese are committing their battleships to a "slugging dual". The end of the table is an artificial "end of the world" and represents either a fuel limit or fog bank that saves/hides any ship that enters.

Next: Forcing the Gate (or not)