Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Stockton Battleground (2021): Battle of Britain "Double Blind Game"

Stockton Battleground Wargames Show 2021

Cinderella you shall go to the "ball" (well it is actually a "wargames show"). Myself and fellow wargamer Ian took the relatively recently released PSC "Battle of Britain" Game (which older Grognards would recognise as a revised [and I would say much improved] version of the game from the earlier Airfix 1980/90's (?)edition of the "Battle of Britain" board game) off to the show to play it "double blind". This meant a partition board between the players and a slight revision to the rules. Rather than relying on the random shuffle of the deck of mission cards to provide intrigue and chance - the German would be allowed to choose or rather "determine" his targets and use an appropriate force composition - but he [as in "me" on the day] was playing fair and hitting targets in historical order (radar, airfields and then cities). The forces were selected to player preferences (although the Germans followed the rule of thumb that 50% Fighter and 50% Bomber in his formations - with at least one Ju87 Stuka and Me 110 squadron (until they ran out)). The RAF likewise controlled their force composition, naturally holding the Blenheims, Defiants and Gladiators to the "last line of defence". The German was playing with Fog of War - the RAF player being a semi-plumpire by virtue of handling all combat - the Luftwaffe player passing his cards over the wall to do "combat" and generally receiving "fewer" back. It worked really well (IMHO), as the Luftwaffe was deprived of th eobvious board game "tells" of how well (or bad) he was actually doing, so he had to do a bit of guesswork and bad guesswork often leads to bad mistakes.

The video of the Stockton Battleground 2021 event is here, with at 9:20 is a quick fly-by of the Battle of Britain Game: 

Right at the start of the action and the "view" from the German side of the Battle of Britain board (see below, a lot of Red bombing missions to perform, with the Luftwaffe intent on eating them up, by nibbling from the south coast upwards in order of: Radar - Airfield - Cities): 


Kanalkamf and the bomber formations are 'mysteriously' intercepted and bounced by formations of RAF fighters (see below, in the game the RAF player tries to "intercept" rather than "dogfight" his German opponent wherever possible, by this tactic he stands a good chance of getting to those juicy bombers without having to tangle with those nasty Me 109s): 


The first wave returns after a partially successful mission strike. According to Luftwaffe intelligence estimates of 50% of the RAF radar stations have been destroyed [explousion markers denoting dead radar stations, or so the Luftwaffe player thinks]. The second mission wave with be sent to take out the remaining stations of the Home Radar Chain Defence Network (see below, a cunning trick of the game is that the German player cannot return to a "completed mission", so to his utter amazement he keeps getting intercepted by the RAF - annoying "detected" markers appearing on his fighter/bomber formations as if the destroyed radar stations and airfields had somehow been repaired [something that didn't happen in Poland and France]): 


With the radar chain taken out it is now time to move onto the RAF airfields (see below, the RAF radar stations on the coast are burning now so the historic name of Tangmere comes to the top of the German bombing list, this is going to be the "crux of the battle" RAF fighters defending their home turf, a bit of a "sticky wicket" as they say in cricket): 


The Luftwaffe target list is slowly creeping up the board. Despite the (very) heavy losses optimistic reports are being sent to Goering about significant RAF losses and numerous infrastructure targets totally destroyed. The RAF airfields are now to be put out of commission and as a final insult Luftflotte 5 will attack from Norway (we [the German player] expect only to meet the decrepit Gloster Gladiators and outclassed Blenheims). This is now the "tussle of eagles" (see below, the south coast is burning, one more push and the English surely will be on their knees):  


Alas, the Englanders have other plans. Luftflotte 5 reports disastrous losses. They found Spitfires and Hurricanes waiting for them - the converted long distanced Me 110s stripped of the rear gunners for extra fuel tanks could not protect the bombers. There losses were irreplaceable, tLuftflotte 5 are now a spent force. Meanwhile the fighting over the southern English coast is simply ferocious. "How are the Tommies still intercepting us?" A final wave of fury is unleashed on 10 and 11 Groups airfields, the Port of London and naval towns of Portsmouth and Southampton are also targeted. Another attempt to take out Tangmire is launched. The destruction is wanton, but the Luftwaffe is down to its bare bones of bomber formations, the crews are tired and dispirited. The London Docks blaze savagely and are totally destroyed in game terms, Portsmouth and Southampton are damaged, RAF airfields smoulder but somehow 11 Group, Keith Parkes boys, rise like a phoenix rises from the ashes, a punch-drunk boxer raising himself defiantly from the canvas one more time and slugs out at the arrogant Aryan. He lands a  body blow, a body blow, another body blow and then solid punch to the jaw. The airwaves are full of Polish chatter, Heinkels fall from the skies and dogfights mesmerise Londoners. Luftwaffe suffer terribly (see below, their bombs land and buildings fall, Luftwaffe pilots confidently tell their superiors of the destruction reeked.If this is true then is it time for Sealion? Tomorrow will tell):  


The RAF is ready and waiting in the morrow, in far better shape than the Germans think. Yes, the Germans will come but they will see the RAF still in the skies, not down the their last fifty Spitfires as Goering boasted. No, it is not the time for operation Sealion, disperse the invasion barges, send the infantry to the East ready for Russia. More bombing missions will follow, different towns will burn but the RAF has not been cracked or broken (see below, German intelligence cannot simply understand how the radars, how supplementary airfields have been used so effectively and how pilots are trained so quickly to replenish British losses. It is "the few" who stopped them by their persistence and doggedness "To keep buggering on" as Churchill said (see below, although seriously damaged the RAF are not down and out. 10 Group are reeling more than 11 Group, 12 Group supporting them on the South East coast. The constant  problem for the Luftwaffe player is that they do not known what to try and hit next - it really played well as a double blind game, particularly as the German had to "estimate" rather than know the RAF losses): 


Honourably mentioned in dispatches, the "other few", spare a thought for the "other" British fighters of the Battle of Britain. Along with the Spitfire and the Hurricane there were a fews RAF fighter squadrons who flew twin engine Bristol Blenheim Fighters, the twin seater Boulton Paul Defiant (a rear facing turret but no forward firing guns) and even the famous Gloster Gladiator biplane (see below, painted up in 1/300 from the PSC expansion pack): 


Other spoils from the Battleground show. Next year we plan to do the Battle of Gazala, so these 10mm Pendrakon Italian CV33s, British 8th Army Infantry and A13 Cruiser tanks (maybe not, too early in teh Desert War but I have a soft spot for them) are but the start of a long term painting project (see below, a small lead mountain to attack in the winter months):  


These will reinforce my previously purchased and now painted Pendrakon Italians. I wa hoping to pick up the tiny Italian L6s, but alas that will have to come in a later postal order.  

Monday, 22 November 2021

Naval Wargaming Podcast (Man Battle Stations) and Episode 55 introducing Naval War (FREE downloadable naval wargaming rules) Link

Just discovered the "Man Battle Stations Podcast" .. Naval - Air and Space gaming, past to present and speculation into the far, far future (see below, each episode is quite long but maintains its interest, albeit w with a US focus): 


Of particular interest was the reference to this set of naval wargaming rules, focusing (I think) on WWII (see below, create a FREE account, verify you are not a Bot [the email may take a half an hour to send so go make yourself a coffee] and then you are off): 


There is some kindle reading for me to catch up on with teh dark nights closing in ;) 

Monday, 15 November 2021

ACW Musings and Distractions

My recent wargaming discovery is that of the late Paddy Griffith, his literature and his life's work in games (courtesy of the gentlemen of Wargames Developments and The History of Wargaming Project) (see below, two of his most inspirational books, let the reading begin):  


On the back of this inspirational reading I decided to finally try and paint up some of the Warlord Games ACW (Epic Scale) ACW I had purchased over the last year of lock-down. To help me I followed the following painting tutorial for inspiration (there are tons available, not even sure the one I ended up using is in amongst this lot:

Confederate: 

Union: 

And in Spanish: 


Yes, the first pilot was significantly over painted (as is always the case)! So it is one ten man sprue down only 239 to go (gulp)! Time to have a look at the Union troops now ;) 

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Let We Forget

The local church memorial (see below, each one a locally knitted poppy): 


If it stops and makes you think then I think it has done its job.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Book: Upheaval by Jarred Diamond

Finally finished this. It was a good read, not a vivid page turner but it rewarded the persistent reader with a few golden nuggets of information that made you stop and stare, as well as a lot of history I was totally unaware of, Indonesia a being a prime example (see below, a nice bit piece of Japanese artwork associated with Commodore Perry's arrival to Japan in 1853 and a rather rude awakening to Western industrialisation by virtue of being on the receiving end of large caliber high explousive shells):  


The premise of the book is that countries and humans share a certain capacity to survive or be destroyed by unexpected "upheavals" and it is how they (either a country of a person) react to the "unexpected traumatic event" that is the key to their survival or destruction. Though provoking as he lists out his key characteristics ... best read the book for that description ;)

Sunday, 7 November 2021

Good Old Fashioned Board Game Fun: Stratego

Well, this was a 'second chance impulse' buy. I first saw it in a local "Yorkshire Store" shop, one sells all manner of goods, with a rambling toy section [sometimes useful for picking up cheap "counters" and the like for games] - I had it in my clammy hands but put it back down. Driving home, I regretted it, though I was in a little bit of a quandary as to what it actually was (and for £20 was I going to just get a pile of "plastic tat?"), A fortnight later I was in the same store looking up at (probably) the same box and it was a case of "green for go in my head" <the sound of the cash register follows or rather a "beep" in these modern times> - done deal, item bought (see below, I opened it up and was well satisfied that it was not the feared "plastic tat" but a nicely presented, mounted board, with good plastic playing pieces, simple instructions and even better, "something" that could be extended in traditional maverick Wargames Design fashion): 


But who would play it with me "out of the box"? My youngest son (11) started but he then aborted after a few moves, sad emoji. Next I tried my "old sad puppy dog eyes" on the wife and much to my surprise she acquiesced and we played a couple of games, in the wings my eldest son (16) eyed events with interested curiosity but it was my (14) daughter who took up the gauntlet - egged on by the wife ("you go beat him" [I gave no mercy in my games with the wife]) and I'll be damned if she nearly did and took me to the wire (I was facing a "female team" at this point). Great fun, great fun, so it looks like the dark nights will be partially filled with more than a few battles. Thank you Yorkshire Store and Jumbo Games ;) 

Update: The daughter expressed an added interest to move onto chess :)   

Saturday, 6 November 2021

Interesting TV I have "Binged" recently

Some thing also that has been keeping away from blogging is a bit of intensive TV programme binging. Netflix and BBC iPlayer in particular: 

AI related (see below, a BBC Panorama classic IMHO): 

Are You Scared Yet Human: BBC iPlayer


And following on from that the BBC iPlayer recommended the following series called: "Can't get you out of my Head" which was a bit of a trippy all over the place journey .. sort of related to AI, historical events  of world politics and a dystopian view of the word, ultimately saying "don't change things because you make things worse - make the best of what you have got". I watched it al the way through just to see what sort of ending it came up with (see below, the headlines give you a gist of the confusing things that are going on .. and it is right, I cannot get the thoughts and images out of my head):


Finally I turned to the insanity of the Squid Games, despite what I considered a dodgy popularist theme (as in the kids liked it) and a very slow episode one .. I got hooked and (sadly) can recommend it (though not taking art in one). The eldest kid was slightly impressed that I guessed the ending (see below, it now has a fully fledged cult following):  


I am just waiting for the spin-off merchandise to make it to 28mm scale. Although the menacing "Pink Troopers" are probably the more memorable iconic image you take away (see below, perfect for Halloween trick or treating): 


Back to some wargaming now.