Sunday 31 October 2010

WWIII: The bridgehead at Dinnersdorf (1)

A hypothetical Soviet invasion of the West set in a late 1980's or 1990's context. The Russian tide is sweeping west but is threatened in a sector by a bold NATO counter stroke. Soviet XXX HQ have informed XX HQ of a dangerous flank development. West German paratroops have seized a bridgehead over the Anna river. The Anna river line had previously been the right defensive flank of the advance. This is now compromised.

The West German bridgehead must be crushed before a NATO armoured column relieves it. Two Soviet Motor Rifle Regiments are detailed to perform a hasty attack. WG paratroops hold the above half of the board.

The Russian half of the board with the two MR III advancing in parallel, both regiments choosing supported (two) battalion attacks in the centre and a flanker battalion to the left and right. Poor reconnaissance rolls did not reveal any NATO troop dispositions.

The Soviets race forward finding deserted NATO picket posts but no line of resistance. Pre-planned 122mm regimental artillery hammers the above built up areas.

Friday 29 October 2010

The Naval Past and Climate Research

God bless the RN and their log books say the climatologists (if this indeed is the correct title for the set of learned people endeavouring to an understanding of when/how much/why the earth's climate has changed or is changing).

The pedantic way the RN records in minute detail the weather on watch (under pain of punishment for falsification) can give a wealth of previously hidden data to past periods in places (namely at sea) untapped but equally as important to the study of climate (we are on an aquatic planet after all). Circa WWI.

Trouble is, it's one thing to electronically scan past documents en masse, but it is quite another to have the AI to understand them

BBC News article on the Project:

Akin to various astronomy projects, Joe Public has been asked to step into the breach and record (i.e. data entry) it for them, all in the name of a good cause. Actually seeing where WWI ships travelled to has a certain appeal to me. Their wanderings are quite interesting, rather than just popping up in the pages of a naval history tome to fight a battle it is just as interesting to see where they travelled to.

I hope it succeeds and it is an interesting source of information in itself.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

End of Ancients Campaign

Started way back at the beginning of the year the DBMM Ancients Campaign has been officially wound up. The Spanish Ulcer proudly taking its place for regular weekly entertainment. Announcement of the end was forestalled as we were planning or rather thinking about one big last battle (in a winner take all sense) to decide the top civilisation.

After the last post/battle-report of Greek v Roman intrigue the campaign settled sown to more board game style than table top wargaming action, as fighting a battle purely for the sake of one would have been very counter productive for most (if not all) players. The economic negatives of losing your seat of power crippled Rome and she was barely left with enough men under arms to defend herself against Carthaginian probes.The former would-be masters of the known world were hunted to near extinction in the backwoods of Gaul and Germany.

Greece too suffered from economic pressure of the eastern Hellenes (aka the Seleucid) losing cities more by influence and cultural invasion that direct military action. So the ancient world started to crumble from centre, becoming a hollow vacuum exploited by two superpowers (the Seleucid and Carthaginian) with "safe" borders. In hindsight the mutual mistrust and opportunism of Rome and Greece was their own undoing, hubris being a rank cake to eat cold, but it did have a splendid intensity to it. The game in a sense continues with two players down and one to go but would take an age to conclude in a "last one standing fashion" and mediocre fun just doing a points count exercise.

As it has long since stopped being the battle generator it has to make way for the Spanish Ulcer. Perhaps we shall return to a big Carthage v Seleucid DBMM battle to put a name on the trophy as peaceful cohabitation seemed unlikely.   

Monday 25 October 2010

Small Spanish Game (3): The Spanish Ulcer (again)

Ignoring the frittering exchanges of fire on the Spanish left which although sometime vicious was just in reality a pinning action, all eyes could not help but be centred on the the "Hill". Time after time the Spanish were tested reformed into a contiguous line until all their reserves were finally committed.

The swirling mass of melee that lasted for several turns:

Until the situation finally breaks decisively one way, as the Spanish "dubious horse" (seen yellow above and missing below) is broken:

This leaves the Spanish infantry on the "Hill" isolated and outflanked and hit by a nasty combined arms attack.

With one inevitable outcome of a disintergrated Spanish right wing, but full honours to the Spanish who fought damned well (fine praise indeed coming from a Frenchman).

The army morale cracks and end of game (spot the difference in the above, the surrounded Spanish infantry can now be canistered as well).

Lessons learned
  • The game still played too long taking four club nights
  • An average unit size of twelve is now too big for AoE
  • We will try it next with eight/nine as the average size!

Sunday 24 October 2010

Small Spanish Game (2): The Spanish Ulcer (again)

Let battle commence, the French try to pin the Spanish Left, attack the Spanish Centre to draw their reserves in and sweep away the Spanish Right by taking the hill and rolling up the Spanish Army. Sounds a good plan but what saw the fates and the dice? 

The French Artillery tickles (rather ineffectively all day, as per their Spanish counterparts):

The Spanish Left starts to get a little disordered:

The Centre/Middle/Hill starts to get very busy:

The Spanish cavalry commander could not resits a flank charge into the French infantry as it attacked the "Hill". Although he bounced the French infabtry had to go square and suffered at the hands of the Spanish artillery (for once). This opportunism on the Spanish Right leads in turn to a flanked "Wing of Horse" which left bruised but not totally beaten.

The dice were evenly split with the French being initially rebuffed in their first attacks but because of the larger unit sizes (as per AoE change made from the last game) they were not spent and could "go again". Likewise it could be said that the Spanish infantry had more staying power but incremently were feeling the power of the French musketry over successive rounds.

The deciding factor seemed to be the optimism of the French infantry commander who seemed confident of "throwing tens" despite statistics to the country. Was this to be a case of French folly or fame?

Saturday 23 October 2010

Small Spanish Game (1): The Spanish Ulcer (again)

Exhausted by the size of the Salamanca (campaign) battle a relatively small Spanish versus French campaign encounter was chosen for a rules-test for "Age of Eagles".

The major change being a transition from average unit sizes of six (this being found to be too small for a AoE unit) to doubling the factors so that an average sized unit became twelve to see how this played out.

Of note: The defending Spanish force was slightly larger than the attacking French force, but given the superior French combat factors the game seemed interesting as it was balanced on a knife edge, perhaps depending on a few choice combat rolls.

Early manoeuvring saw the Spanish ejected out of good defensive wooded terrain by vigorous French bayonets, but this only meant that they formed up in a formidable continuous line making good use of a "hill". This line would have to be breached. 

The Spanish defensive position (Left Flank holding "The Church", with seemingly with ample reserves in the background):

The Spanish Centre and the crux of the Spanish defensive position "The Hill" (once the woods had been lost, as per the French infantry streaming out of them):

Right Flank (seen top above) holds a "body" of Spanish horse of doubtful quality that served to attract doubtful (as in poor) dice rolling.

Next: The crux of the battle

Thursday 21 October 2010

Another Salamanca: The Spanish Ulcer Continued

Another Salamanca Battle Report:

News has filtered through to the French Command in Madrid that the Spanish Ulcer is continuing to be a painful sore to the Emperor who is currently nursing his piles somewhere in Russia.

A strong French army was beaten, nay routed by a stronger Anglo-Portuguese-Spanish force under the command of a certain Arthur Wellesley near the Spanish city of Salamanca (note: NOT the historical scenario but a campaign generated one).

Pictorial evidence may be forthcoming, but despite it taking an epic six club nights to resolve (using "Age of Eagles" with the armies too far apart and too many small units made it an exercise of rolling of the Reserve and Tactical tables). Incredible as it may seem, I forgot to take a camera on each occasion.

The French it has to be said were unenthusiastic and listless in regarding fighting the battle and were hoping to gain a campaign consolation "sneak-away" but Wellesley it must be said had other ideas. Bringing the goods home on the penultimate round before blessed night, Wellesley saw to it that the French army morale was broken and at that point it became less fraternity more every man for himself.

Wellesley held back the Spanish on his left and the British/Portuguese forces in the centre sending the bulk of his elite fighting forces round to his right which smashed the French left. The British/Portuguese centre had a few hairy moments (and two British units even routed past Wellesley himself on his charger) but the almost wavering centre was rallied by the sight of hairy highlanders legs emerging from woods, driving all French before them. The Devil's Handmaidens were on good form. 

Seeing all was lost the French Commanders discreetly left the field each blaming the other in true egalitarian committee style management.

(Campaign note: Wellesley pursued the remnants of this army to destruction in the following campaign turn to make it a rather comprehensive Anglo-Portuguese-Spanish victory)  


Of note in the game was the infamous "Wing of British Horse" with the galloping eight battery (three deadly actions starting from the limbered state: move, unlimber and fire combination at canister range). This Horse Artillery STUG formation slew remorselessly as it progressed across the board, claiming French unit after French unit that could not get out of its way because of poor manoeuvring. (OK it killed my French units)

Lessons learned:
  • Use historical topography rather than a randomly generated battlefield. 
  • Start the armies closer to gether.
  • An average size of six elements is too small a unit for "Age of Eagles", one hit renders the unit a liability (and most of the units in the game were size six).    
Hopefully I can source some photographs of the battle at a later date and retrofit them in.

Tuesday 19 October 2010

The Mighty Maus in 1/72 [1]

From Pegasus Hobbies, Museum Miniatures range (I think). Never thought I would get my hands on this silly super tank, but I did.

Assembled (and there are a lot of bits that go together to make the silly bogey arrangements you do not see) and under coated, waiting for that Panzer Yellow dirty wash perhaps (I could justify myself doing Panzer Grey as anything goes in 1945 German paint shops or even a anti-rust primer driven out to the front)?

I cannot think of a valid WWII wargaming reason to have it, but it was a wacky must! It is also huge, as you would expect, next to even an IS-2!

Follow on: A splendid de-motivational poster from the comments below

Monday 18 October 2010

France 1940: Battle of Crehen: AAR Summary

I followed with fascination the NZ (Paul from Plastic Warriors and Al from Twentieth Century Wargames) Command Decision 2 scenario of the Battle for Calais 1940 (and I am very much looking forward to its forthcoming conclusion). Partly out of my own interest for the period and party for the fact that I was also finally getting round to play a similar game set in 1940 (after many years of collecting the kits in 1/200 scale). French v Germans in Belgium set in the opening days of "Case Yellow" set around the village of Crehen.

The Scenario:
The French are faced with a delaying action, the Germans are pushing forward as fast as they can without the usual artillery and air support. Recon (or death) by contact and a Panzer battalion hits a mixed force of French (Motorised Infantry - Dragoons and their integral armour support) trying to block their path.

Who will prevail?

An excellent After Action Report (AAR) has already been posted to the BattleFront Forum (see below). Well worth the look as it contains different and far better quality photographs than this post. Plus an impartial review from an official umpire ;),42898
(Click on AAR in the posting to go to a rather large document, but well worth the read)

In Summary:
The Germans thrust through the middle and were horribly ambushed. As a riposte to this the Germans tried to out flank to their left and were again horribly ambushed. In an attempt to drive past this resistance they impaled themselves one the final French defence line and "broke a company" (see below - middle of Crehen is at the top of the photo, the field of burning German tanks being the French right flank).

The stragglers running in panic off-board (suppressed and disrupted) to the amusement of the French (see below).

The Germans tried to outflank right, suffered casualties but pushed the French back (who tried to use a smoke screen [white card in photo] to cover their withdrawal, see below).

The Germans initial success stalled as they met hastily re-deployed French reinforcements from the victorious French right battle described in the previous photographs (see below, stopping the Panzers, French tanks have firing positions off-camera to the left).

A stalemate ensued and the Germans tried to force the issue with their third medium company of Panzers which start hurting the French tanks. Tank carnage ensued as French tanks started to hurt and burn in a one for one exchange that the Germans could afford, the French not.

However during this exchange the German second light company suffered one too many losses and broke thus stalling the Panzer battalion and gaining the French their victory conditions (i.e. the best French outcome of an "orderly retreat" not rout - sums up France 1940 really). Note: The German medium company PzIII's and PzIV's were untouched in the exchange, which was something disturbing and a point to watch out for in the follow on battle.

Photo below shows French tanks redeploying from their right flank to their left/back as a final "Alamo" defence line. 

It had been a tight run thing and the French just got out of Crehan before being surrounded (see below as the infantry transport safely extract the Dragoons despite the attention of two cheeky PzI's). Of note, I have also never seen so many German tanks burning on table in a wargame before, over 50% of tanks committed were knocked out!

The game was played over two successive nights at the venerable Hartlepool Wargames club in the north of England using Battlefront the WW2 rules (if I say I think Command Decision gives a Battalion view of a battle, then I think Battlefront scales down to the Company eye-view; Note: my own opinion). This is a set of rules I have possessed for many years without actually playing/reading them. Luckily I was in good hands as several of the club members are active contributors to the Battlefront Rules forum and know the rules inside out. As the BF "virgin" I was given the job of commanding the elements of French 3rd DLM tasked with stemming the German tide, the more experienced Battlefront player (Paul) commanded the forward elements of 4th. Panzer Division.

The Wargaming Team:
My gratitude goes out to the Hartlepool Wargame Society regulars involved in this game. Ken for compiling the AAR report and umpiring, Andy for the scenario design and umpiring (yes two, we were spoilt with a 1:1 players to umpires ratio!) and Von Paul for being my erstwhile opponent despite coming off a horrendous twelve hour shift pattern (the fatigue factor which some could say was shamelessly exploited by the French). It goes without saying that I am looking forward to the follow on scenario and to see Paul's thirst for revenge after my bit of "beginners luck".

Figures Footnote:
Although I like (and am basically addicted to 20mm modelling, see 20mm blog entries) I have a love-hate relationship with them on tabletop. For "infantry" battles I like the scale, however for battles that bring in swathes of armour a Panther and a Sherman barrel to barrel leaves me cold (that being the worst case depiction). It is that dreaded scale versus visual presentation thing, hence I have a second preferred "armour wargaming scale" for WWII. For early war I see 1/300 (or 1/285) as too small so I chose (maybe just to be odd) the 1/200 range from Skytrex. In fact I am happy mixing 1/200 vehicles with 10mm infantry (Pendraken). For latter-war WW2 I intend to use the more conventional 1/300.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Painting Tray Update - Something Naval

The American GI's have been shuffled into a box for their own safely and out comes the 1/3000 Navwar ships. Just the thing for when I want to do a small scale "fiddle and fitch".

These are forces I need to paint for the forthcoming Battle of the Java Sea (and some other random bits and pieces from the Pacific). To the left some ABDA (American, British, Dutch and Australian) cruisers and destroyers, to the right and middle some IJN destroyers, light & heavy cruisers, plus some Carriers (to make up the Pearl Harbour deadly six - not needed for the Java battle)

The battle will be fought using GQII rules and is a tough one for the ABDA boys to win.

Friday 15 October 2010

Men of Thebes: DBA I/52(d)

The Hoplite Phalanx, in DBA terms that is 9x4Sp:

The Supporting Arms and General, 1x4Sp (Gen), 1x3Cv and 1x2Ps

All the above from Irregular Miniatures,  their Hellenistic/Greek range paint up really well and are one of my favourite Greeks figures to paint "en masse".

The above are for the desperate Thebes player in the Greeks in Peril 480BC campaign. To send "Earth and Water" (submission) to the Great King and be hated by the rest of Greece or be defiant? Eternal enmity with the rest of Greece or face total annihilation and be teh first Greek City State to go down?

Normal battlefield set-up: Central mass of 5 doubled up 4Sp (including General) with 3Cv and 2Ps to the flanks (2PS in cover, 3CV in good going) .

Wednesday 13 October 2010

A field of Valiant American GI's

After many hours spent with modelling knife, plastic glue and super-glue behold my Valiant American GI's from Normandy line up in raw plastic.

The trial batch were processed a while back, so the rest of the "battalion" makes its way to the production line. As per the instructions in the packet the figure poses were chosen to field a Rapid Fire US Infantry Battalion 1944 with a few (or more than a few) spares left over (see below).

Also seen is an Italeri M8. Nice to see new mouldings hit the market and it goes well with my Skytrex metal M8 and M20. I will probably get the Italeri M20 if I see it (and if it is under a £10). It is a nice kit though with fiddly parts, to counter this they have wargame mode instructions which leaves out the bits that will probably break.

That way I have the makings of a US Combat Team Recon Group. My (old original ECSI) M3 Scout Cars, plus Hasagawa M3 and M4 Half Tracks should do nicely as transport for the Armoured Infantry.

Seen here in nude plastic wanting, nay yelling for paint. One could also ask where oh where are my metal Platoon 20 British 1944 Normandy infantry, left so near to completion at the start of this year. Waiting patiently is the answer


Monday 4 October 2010

Note to Self: Painting Sea Bases fro 1/3000 ships

Painting Recipe used for 1/3000 WW2 Pacific ships used for Battle of Java Sea
 (IJN versus ABDA)

Ships mounted on card-stock 
Cruisers: 30mm wide 80mm long
Destroyers: Combination of 30mm wide by 50mm long and 20mm wide by 60mm long
(Latter version is better/preferred for larger destroyers)
Navwar 1/3000 figures washed, filed of flash and glued to base using wood-glue
Note: Basing note important for GQII rules used

Wave Effects
After wood-glue sets (or alternatively painted ship "plonked" into wet filler
DIY Brand (Focus) Flexible Gap Filler, ready mixed in tube thinly spread over base
Rough irregularities represent waves

Sea Painting
Base left to dry overnight
Mixture of Anita Acrylics: Midnight Blue/Navy Blue + Jungle Green (50:50) applied to base and sides
Uneven coverage requires second application of same mixture
Lighten composition with progressive amounts of Ocean Blue in wey brush fashion not seeking 100% coverage
Sufficient to take the prominent tops and crests
White may also be added to this mixture (actually used Games Workshop Skull White as it was the nearest thing to hand and I wanted to use it up before it dried up on me)
Final dry-brushed sparing with a white wave top. 

Ship Wake Painting
Here I need to do some more research
I went with my standard white down the sides of the ship with a churned propeller wash
This is probably more cartoon than physical representation
Assumes ship travelling at speed without generating great "V" wave
Comments appreciated
Three step process using:
(Games Workshop) Codex Grey
(Games Workshop) Fortress Grey
(Games Workshop) Skull White
Why these paints simply to use them up

Photographs of finished ships to follow in subsequent posts
Perhaps  I can retro-fill description of the above better with more examples as I go along

Friday 1 October 2010

P47 Thunderbolt

Just a beast of a machine. Pure power under the hood. Not as pretty as the Mustang but effective nevertheless.

However once it lost altitude it could never regain it quick enough.

 A tank of a ground attack aircraft. More lost to AA fire than enemy combat I believe. It roamed mercilessly on search and destroy missions behind enemy lines and in close cooperation with ground force.

This is a 1/144 Academy kit, used primarily as a Western Allies 1944 air asset marker for my 20mm games, although part of me hopes to be able to dogfight with it some day :)