Wednesday, 30 April 2014

French Sea-Wolves (Part III of III)

Rigging, sails and masts torn away the British 100 gunner is hard to move, her only choice is really plough on or face a bow or stern rake (see below):

The lead French ship is at least suffering too (see below):

However she presses on impressively fire another telling broadside (see below):

Covering the second French "Sea-Wolf" to close to the vulnerable stern side of the British ship. Not quite there for a stern rake yet, but yet more rigging hits (see below):

There is still plenty of fight left in the British ship, but with her decreasing amount sail she is slowly becoming a fortified island rather than a ship of the line (see below):

Here we called a close to proceedings. The consensus being that unless British "help" turned up the 100 gunner was a lost cause. She may have taken a Frenchman with her but it seemed almost just a "matter of time".

Two French "ships of the line" versus one British "ship of the line" had swung the odds too much in favour of the French. What was also interesting is that the jump between "third rate" to "second or first rate" ships seems to be less of an increase in killing power than we expected. "Third rates" can stand in line of battle and trade it with their bigger cousins. Especially RN "third rates"!

Coming soon to the "wet wargaming table": Three French versus Two British!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

French Sea-Wolves (Part II of III)

The French Formation Turns:

The French fleet (ahem, OK their two ship squadron) turns in succession (see below):

The British suffer 'lost sails' which makes an already  tactically challenging situation with an unfavourable "weather gauge" even more challenging (see below):

The Gun Fight Continues: 

The French have scored early hits. The British however do at last get a telling reply in from their 100 gun broadside and French sails come crashing down (see below):

The alternating shots (as the French fire 'every other go') from the French Squadron at least give them continuous fire (see below):

The Royal Navy are suffering. The expected devastating broadside of the 100 gunner is not manifesting itself as the Death Star it was expected to be. In fact the British gunners are statistically "missing" more than expected. The lead French ship is taking hits and her compatriot is bunching up to her because of her reduced speed (see below):

The second French ship is now freed for independent action rather than be masked by or mask the guns of her admiral in the lead.

Monday, 28 April 2014

French Sea-Wolves (Part I of III)

Time to stack the odds against the Royal Navy who so far have trounced the French Navy good and proper in one-to-one encounters. Two French third-rate 74's (with a total of 154 guns, er do the math?) come across a mighty second-rate RN 100 gunner "alone" at sea. It was thought that the 100 gunner would be such a devastating force in a fight the French were still likely to be blown away. Will it be the hour of the French Sea-Wolves or more broken French match-sticks floating in the sea? The scene is set below, bottom for the French, top for the British):

The fleets slowly converge with the French being slightly favoured with the "weather gauge" as the wind is blowing across at the British ship (a very nice GHQ 1/1200 model from another wargamer) so the Brit would have trouble trying to sail at the French as he would have head into the wind. The "weather gauge" was a random factor not written into the scenario (see below):

The French Commander or should I say Admiral (me) decided to take the initiative and close the range with the Brit (see below):

By choosing to close the range in the same fashion again for another consecutive turn (can anybody else see the parallel with The Battle of the Denmark Straits?) rapidly decreased the distance but caused the Royal Navy Commander to burst at the seems with an opportunity to deal a 100 gun bow -rake, though a long range (see below):

The Frenchman had the luck of the devil as the British gunners uncharacteristically missed. The helm was brought about and the lead French shipped fired. Tears and gaping holes in the British sails boasted of good French dice rolls. (see below):

The French had yet to bring the full squadron broadside into play as the French formation was turning in succession. This evened up the tactics rather than letting the French duo split up right from the start. The second French ship is constrained to play follow the leader until circumstances (such as battle damage) dictate otherwise.

PS I think the sea is pretty cool, being a relatively cheap table covering (that never saw a dinner service placed on it). I will have to keep an eye out for one!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Shameful Use of Wargaming Equipment

I have to report a serious wargaming crime (see below):

A "paste table" being used for wall papering? The second offence is the DIY instruction manual which no self-respectful amateur (DIY man) would be seen using, but in my defense it is a "book" akin to a "rule book" (first edition - some twenty years old now) of instructions on how to play" (see below)

The good news is I have half a bucket of wall paper paste looking for a none DIY home improvement use. Flocking comes immediately to mind ;)

PS Yes I had some paper "trimming" still to be done on the ceiling and skirting board overlaps :)

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Something French (with a little bit of German on the side) on the Painting Table

Modelling Projects: 

Next up, on the "Napoleonic Ship" modelling front (or should I simply say "shipyard") is the first of the French "Commerce de Marsailles" a 120 gun 'monster' (though even she was again used against her original owners after again being captured by the British, but Navwar lists her as a French ship). 

The rationale of my choice being that my collection of Napoleonic 74's (bar HMS Thunderer) are really capable as serving as "dual nationality" (especially as I have not put any flags on any of them). Two out of three of them started life with the French Navy and also had 'other' French sisters of the same type. Therefore a big nasty "120 gunner" with a "74 gunner" companion in French colours should put up a decent fight against two British "74 gunners". Does it make sense to you? I hope so! 

The "Commerce de Marsailles" is shown belwo in her naked metal under construction (see below):  

As I was painting her an undercoat of aTmiya XF1 black I decided to catch up with undercoating the French D2 Infantry Tank, a 1/72 SHQ model I had assembled a while back (see below):

If there is one thing that annoys me about those "rare" metal tanks you have to buy to make up your OoB (apart from the hefty price) is the fact that to avoid casting a hell of a lot of wasted lead, the model is always artificially hollowed out without being provided with a flush bottom. 

Perhaps a small and petty thing to others, but to me it is an annoyance as it makes the kit unnatural to pick up and silly if viewed from the wrong angle. Seeing as it was only me that had this problem, rather than start a petition to the Prime Minister , I decided to add a plasticard bottom to the D2 (see below):

It worked so well (IMHO) I decided to add it to the German Propaganda Tank too (see below):

The two metal early war tanks (with 'plasticard' bottoms), the black undercoated 1/72 SHQ beasts parade their wares (see below):

Their camouflage paint jobs will have to come at a later time as "other projects" are crying out for my time. Priority goes to stuff that is needed for war games .

Friday, 25 April 2014

Warlock on Fire top Mountain

Here's one from my "yesterdays" (see below):

I took a trip down D&D memory lane. I must admit first time round I did not read it but picked it up in a bargain bookshop twenty years later in a bumper set.

am rather taken aback at the thought that its 25th anniversary has come and gone!

I recently solo'ed the dungeon with my eldest son and had great fun (although I did most of the reading and he did most of the dice rolling).

It goes without saying that at the end after defeating The Warlock, I (or rather "we", my son and I) had the wrong combination of keys and sat on the treasure chest feeling very sorry for myself (or rather ourselves)!

Rather than repeat the adventure until we get it right we are simply moving onto the next book!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Ancient Greek Reading List (Update)

Some Greek books have been read from the library:

"Xenophon's Retreat" was a book I really needed to read to 'start' the close-off of the Ancient Greek (pre-Alexander) period. It has set me up for the actual reading of the original Xenophon and it has also kindled an interest in fighting The Battle of Cunuxa (404 BC) between the Persian Satrap Cyrus and the Persian King of Kings" Artaxerxes II formerly known as his brother Arsaces (see below):

Somehow (as it has been rather a busy time for me 'out of hobby') I managed to slip "Marathon" in too. I must confess I have wanted to read this for some time, as it follows on from the earlier "Killers of Men" book. There is nice coverage of the 'sea battle' of Lade (494 BC) as well as the epic Greek versus Persian encounter at the namesake of the book Marathon. Rather refreshingly it builds up the encounter quite well over days as opposed to a line them up and fight DBA style of encounter (see below):

Historical novels do (with a touch of poetic license) set the scene in a way that more purist historical academics cannot convey (controversial point perhaps), but in a way that I find at least helpful. Interestingly Manfredi is an academic who caters in his novels to the appeal of populous historical fiction reader. His "The Lost Army" is also helping me with Xenophon (see below):

So my fictional journey has started with Xenophon before I begin reading his historical account over the summer. "The Lost Army" is one of Manfredi's better works methinks (almost but not quite at the end of it)!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

HMS Implacable gets a "It's Rigging"

I had 'almost' finished drilling holes in the ship. One last one to do remained. Two thirds the way up the 'middle sail' a hole needed to be gently drilled to fix a rope to the top of the 'aft sail'. Instead of a quick clean turn I seemed to have to resort to more force than usual. As I was wondering why this should be so I felt a peculiar and unpleasant sensation in my forefinger :(

Warning: Small metal modelling drills can be more dangerous than you think! OK not quite a trip to A&E (aka a UK hospital) but a stinging reminder to keep drill points sharp so you can keep more control over the drilling process (see below the result of complacency):

Medic! Looks like I'll live!

But please note the small (nay tiny) diameter of the puncture wound, but I drilled it quite deep all because of the "gunked-up" super-glue on the end of the drill tip. Please don't try this at home (see below):

After a medicinal "cup of tea" I got back to the business of rigging, a slow and tedious affair which I am still trying to perfect (see below):

Steady as she goes, no need to rush this bit (see below):

Otherwise you will curse yourself as you see your beloved model tumble before your eyes and bounce off the carpet. Maybe it was down to the numb finger, or maybe I should have just taken a break, but I was almost finished before tragedy struck :(

Sigh, I twisted and straightened it but the bow-spit still looks a bit bent (see below):

I soldiered (or should that be sailor-ed) on and finally finished her to join the squadron of Royal Navy 74's ready to serve the crown (see below):  

Next (after a small healing interlude): Some opposition from the French Navy

Monday, 21 April 2014

HMS Implacable gets a "Lick of Paint"

My third Navwar 1/1200 Royal Navy "ship of the line" circa third rate (74), HMS Implacable, comes across the Painting Tray. The sails and deck and wooden walls get the standard three colour (shade, base and highlight) treatment and 'most' of the holes are already pre-drilled for the rigging stage (see below, sails to the foreground):

HMS Implacable is another example of a captured French warship (aka the ex-French Duguay-Trouin) that provided useful service to the Royal Navy. 

To distinguish her from the other captured Frenchman, aka HMS Canopus (previously the Le Franklin) I painted the top of her deck cabins red. Hence she can now be identified at a distance as the "red" ship so the base does not have to be picked up and annoyingly moved (never to be put back into quite the same place) from the wargames table (see below, hull now to the foreground):

While still in the painting phase I did a small trial run with the masts as a precursor to the fiddly rigging stage to see that all was well (see below):

Can you spot the difference?

I do tend to stare a lot at the 1/1200 Napoleonic Ships after I've finished the initial "painting stage" and before the treacherous "rigging stage". I think it is just a case of building up confidence before going on (see below):

Answer: The difference between the two shots being the consumption of a cup of tea by me. ;)

In Formation:

My squadron of Royal Navy 74's or 74'ish as HMS Canopus is technically an 80 gunner. I am also viewing basing sizes for the "card stock" sea I have to mount them on. There has been enough tumbling ships to date to fill my lifetime, so a more secure means of handling my Napoleonic ships is sought (see below, going left to right  HMS Thunderer, HMS Canopus and the "red" HMS Implacable):

Next: The Damned Rigging (Again)

Sunday, 20 April 2014

New Kid In Town "Blogging"

Hot tip check out TWTRB aka "Tomorrow when the Revolution Begins":

A very good read over a variety of subjects, from WW2 Matildas and Chi-Ha's to atomising city blocks and terrain-scaping them into ruins (Sci-Fi but usable for WW2 and the like). Also mentor to 16 Platoon's new commander in the Normandy "Chain of Command" campaign and knows his WW2 stuff.

I am waiting keenly for when his attention turns to Impetus and other gaming systems :)

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Project and Painting Table Review:

"Who am I?", "what an I?" and "Where am I?" are my most confusing questions. As of January 1st 2014 I certainly did not think I would be donning a "Napoleonic Naval" cap in March/April, but as the old adage goes "variety is the spice of life!")

Active Projects:
  • Playing and Making: Napoleonic Naval (1/1200)
  • Playing and Making: (1/72:20mm) WWII 'Chain of Command' Skirmish (Normandy + others?)
  • Currently Reading: Ancients Marathon/Xenophon/Sparta and Thebes
Projects "To Pick back up": 
  • Ready and Waiting: WWII (1/200) Battalion Attack (Phil Sabin) v Miniature Rules (time to test some miniature rules [Spearhead, BGC, CDIII] against the same scenario)
  • Ready and Waiting: WWII "Plastic Kit" construction Backlog aka "The Plastic and Metal;  Mountain" - paused for respite and ready for second wind
  • Ready and Waiting: Ancients: Peloponnesian War (15mm) "The First Battle of Mantinea"  418BC using BBDBA (Big Battle DBA)
Future (and de-hibernated) Projects - "The Shape of Things to Come"(?): 
  • More Preparation Required: Circus Maximus (6mm) Avalon Hill Board (Ancient Race Horse in Chariots) Game
  • Undercoated and Ready to Start Painting: Impetus Army Unit Expansion: (25mm/28mm) Mounted Harquebusier Unit for Renaissance Period "Maximilian-Landschneckts" 
  • Army in Early Stages of Collection: (25mm/28mm) ECW Covenanter/Montrose Armies
  • Naval Musings (1) Ships Acquired but Intellectual Thoughts (Aka Rules)/Historical Reading Required : WWI/WW2 [Jutland/Bismarck Chase/Early Pacific War] 
  • Naval Musings (2) In Minds Eye Only: A strange attraction with sailing ships seems to be developing [Napoleonic has started it up (see above)] but then there is the Spanish Armada, Dutch Wars and Salamis to contend with (the latter been a "project" I know I must do)
"That's all for now folks" ... but like every other wargamer I can think of I would be very disappointed if I could not find even more material in the "loft" that I had totally forgotten about that goes "active" (did I mention my crazy 2mm Napoleonics or more traditional 15mm Franco-Prussians?)


Friday, 18 April 2014

Chain Of Command: Normandy Campaign Game (6) - Cold Sheffield Steel andShrapnel Hell

The End Came Quickly:

Another unexpected twist in the Chain of Command sequence of play. This time the British gained the advantage by throwing three sixes in their 'command phase' meaning they get a flip-flop turn and 'go again', which meant more "mortar hell" for the Germans. Pity (a rather insincere comment from the British Commander) as the Germans were waiting patiently to play an 'end of turn' Chain of Command die to stop that "mortar barrage" smothering their baseline squads. Instead their baseline morale started to crumble with British Infantry (Second Squad from 16 Platoon) poised ready for a close assault (see below):

In Second Squad went, but there was nobody left! A couple of skull markers representing KIA but there were no German defenders, the mortar barrage had certainly done its job (see below):

Meanwhile the 'cheeky' German Panzer Grenadiers had inadvertently left themselves exposed to Third Squads counter attack led by the Senior NCO from 16 Platoon. It is lucky that British Platoons find themselves with an abundance of NCO commanders who have earned their stripes at the 'sharp end'. Although no kills were scored, half the Panzer Grenadiers were left incapacitated in a severe state of shock and the threat to the British Right Flank was abated (see below):

The British victory was sealed when the British Commander personally took control of "Grey House" second floor Bren section, having judiciously re-positioned it and with a deadly burst KIA'ed a Panzer Grenadier. The will to fight on departed from the Germans and the German Commander decided to bail out (see below):

As Wellington said "It was a close run thing". In this instance the breaks went to the British just when they needed it most.

The next campaign scenario follows up the British advance through the village on the heels of the retreating Germans. 16 Platoon's adventure continues.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Chain Of Command: Normandy Campaign Game (5) - Mister Mortar UnleashesHell

Darkest before the Dawn: 

It seemed like it was well and truly falling apart for the British. The advance of the German Panzer Grenadiers on the British Right seemed to suggest 16 Platoon were going to go the way of 12 Platoon in a viscous MG42 crossfire. Even the first attempt at bringing in a ranging shot for the mortar landed off-table somewhere near Caen. This did not translate to a portent of good fortune.

However the second ranging shot was "spot on" (see below):

This was translated into an immediate "Fire For Effect" (see below):

This had a devastating effect on the Germans, not just the German Squads underneath it but the German player morale. The German defensive strategy was suddenly scuppered. They had already used their scenario freebie "Chain of Command" dice to gain a tactical advantage earlier on and could not simply end the turn, which would stop the murderous barrage.

Each German team (two teams to each German squad, so four teams in total were effected) caught in the barrage was attacked with 4d6 with a 50:50 chance of a 'hit' and then a subsequent 'roll for effect' with a 50:50 chance of attaining an effect (shock or KIA), thus hurting the affected team. Nasty odds in an gaming system. Hunkering down in hard cover was no longer a sound defensive option but more of a coffin-maker.

The only way out the German Commander could see was to squeeze the hard pressed British right flank even  harder with the German Panzer Grenadiers to enfilade the whole British position (see below):

Just as the German commander's morale was wilting the German luck gets a lucky break and he gets his long sort after "Chain of Command" dice to to end the turn and the three inch mortars, what had been thought of as the saviour of the British PBI, falls deathly silent.

The situation was critical. The last thing the British needed was the German baseline infantry squads to recover and suppress the British Infantry in "Grey House" while the Panzer Grenadier enfiladed them from the rear.

The young British Commanding Officer called to his FOO in the upper floor. "We need those mortars now FOO!" To which the cool reply came, "We need to register again, I've got a new battery on the net, they'll be firing off co-ordinates." The young Lieutenant knew this would take too much precious time. "Now 'Bomber'! Now! I need them now! We don't have any bloody time!" Again a cool calculated composed response from the FOO, "Risky 'Sir'?" This time the Lieutenant's response was cool and calculated but rather curt, "My call, bring it in."  

The most important roll of the game was made, needing eight or more on 2d6 (slightly against the odds). The umpire nodded at the call, it was desperate times and risk now could make the difference. A nine was rolled, hell was once again unleashed on the German baseline squads, the German Commander grimaced and the British Commander gave a sigh of relief (see below):  

Using the cover of the barrage and direct-fire smoke from the platoon's integral two inch mortar, 16 Platoon's Second Squad moved down the hedgerow to get into an assault position (see below):

Crossing the open ground at a run was not without misfortune though as a rifleman was dropped in a KIA result from what defensive fire the Germans could muster. However Second Squad managed a perfect assault position (see below):

It was now the Germans who were feeling the pressure despite their wonder weapon MG42s.

Next: For Who the Die Rolls

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Chain Of Command: Normandy Campaign Game (4) - Fritz Wakes Up

The German Response:

Was immediate and potent. A German Panzer Grenadier Squad (that's two MG42's and some riflemen to you and me) sitting on the British right flank, the newly deployed Third Squad and Senior NCO from 16 Platoon along with the Sniper Team underneath the wrecked Churchill Tank (see below):

As intimidating was the sight of the numerous grey clad figures of two full German Infantry Squads appearing in the baseline (hard cover) buildings (see below):

The German Panzer Grenadiers soon showed how deadly they could be by moving into position and pouring murderous fire into 16 Platoon's Two Inch Mortar Team, killing the loader. This was an introduction to the "if you are on table and I can see you then I can shoot at you and kill you" concept of Chain of Command. The only thing that can potentially save you is the amount and quality of cover you are in (see below):

The deadly German ("b@$|@&d") Panzer Grenadiers shown in their 'killing posture' (see below):

Being on the receiving end of concentrated fire from two MG42 is not a nice experience. I have to admit to a certain admiration for the weapon though.

Meanwhile the Second Squad of 16 Platoon shuffles slightly left using tactical movement (which increases their use of cover and thus makes them harder to hit) while the First Squad receives a "shock" marker from the attention of the German Infantry Squads in the baseline. The 'hard cover' of "Grey House" saving them from further casualties (see below):    

Then tragedy strikes on the British right flank as Third Squad from 16 Platoon becomes another victim of the German Panzer Grenadiers and their MG42's, sustaining three KIA's (including their NCO) from an unexpected angle. My inexperience of Chain of Command 'line of sight' showing here. The hedgerows were only light cover as I was moving (non tactically) in them and the 'line of sight' extended six inches into them. My confidence was being rocked as I had lost four men in a matter of murderous minutes (see below):

Trying not to panic I tried to hurriedly gather my rather confused thoughts, much to the amusement of the umpire and now gleeful German player. If the call had come for a "Taxi at the bar!" I think I would have taken it at this point.

Next: The British Regroup and introduce the Germans to "Mr Boom, Boom" (a three inch mortar meteor asteroid shower)!