Thursday 28 June 2012

Fearless Pierre learns FEAR ...

The morning sun broke through the clouds and greeted the Entente pair of scouts. Again an Englishman and a French man head towards the German lines "a hunting" (see below):

As regular as clockwork the Boche appear, two scouts guarding a two-seater. With battle cries of "Tally-ho" and "Merde" the battle commences (see below): 

The Englishman is fearless and bold (some say too fearless and too bold) diving into the center of the melee without a passing thought to the killing power of modern industrial machinery (obviously a product of the British class based "gentleman's elite" old school system). Pierre meanwhile hatches a cunning survival plan called "come in from the side" (see below):

The Englishman clashed head-to-head with his foe and mutual "greeting cards" (of damage) were exchanged (see blow):

Pierre for all his fancy planning ended up in a similar position as the Yellow Albatross of "Kev" angled across to meet him (see below):

Pierre suffered a far more dangerous outcome. The "rat-a-tat" greeting from the Spandau (courtesy of Killer Kev's Albatross) is met with a resounding metallic ping from deep inside the N17's engine bock, followed by an conflagration of fire, flame and caustic choking smoke. Pierre is left blinded with the Nieuport 17 losing height rapidly and the whole world swirling around the top of his head. Out of control, helpless and with his life flashing before his eyes Pierre fights ingloriously with the controls. The fire fans out and the immediate risk of explosive oblivion seems to have receded.    

Barely managing to level the stricken plane off, the N17 disintegrates upon contact with a small copse of stunted trees, gorse and brush mercifully wet and springy from recent rains. Pierre is flung to a position relative safely amidst the wreckage. The 'Fates' have ordained that this fallen angel to survive once more, even granting him the luxury of falling on the right side of the line. "Nine Lives Pierre" seems to have used a fair few of them up by now. Some five missions to his credit, no kills, but twice 'shot down' and the cruel statistics of war say that the 'third time' usually gets you. Pierre has now earned the right to a "pass" in his commanders eyes to savour a week's respite with Eros in lively Paris, as a stark contrast to his daily dance with Thantos over the Western Front.

A short and not so sweet duel, summed up in a single posting. Still to be continued on Pierre's return from Paris!

Friday 22 June 2012

A Bit of Quiet Reading

Whilst not a whirlwind at the painting table I have managed to at read put in some quiet reading time. I have completed Rowland White's set of three 1970's and 1980's "small wars" factual accounts (Falklands 1982, Oman 1970's, British Honduras 1971/72). Read in the following order:

Interesting stuff. The Vulcan 607 was food and drink to my interest in the 100 days war, my project would encompass 1/3000 Navwar modern naval and land 1/300 or 1/200 scale miniatures. Aircraft would be probably 1/300 or smaller too (although I have a 1/144 Sea Harrier).

Again Storm Front (Oman) begs for either a full 'deniable war' campaign or 20mm skirmish. I have the impeccable plastic Caesar Miniatures 'Terrorists' and 'other' modern plastics for the SAS and governments "AK47" style troops.

Phoenix Squadron has just ignited my 1970's post WWII interest in things "Naval" (NATO versus Warsaw Pact). If truth be told I was looking for an excuse ;)  

Thursday 21 June 2012

Note to self: Good "colour theory painting post"

Video and explanation

Especially useful for fantasy and sci figures when you don't have a uniform guide to go on and have to make it up yourself

Thanks to "The League of Ordinary Gamers Playing Extraordinary games" (see link above)

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Stopped by the Weather

The German attack on the right grinds to a halt. With the smoke cover gone the German infantry casualties mount (nine platoons all told), the German battalion command stand even goes down. The gambit of engaging the British "trucks" hurriedly redeploying the 17 pounder battery backfires with the indirect fire missing and being ineffectual. Only through a bitter hand-to-hand close combat in the woods do the German infantry force a platoon casualty on the British battalion. It was a tough bitter attack that in the end came to naught (see below). Oh the senselessness of war!   

Meanwhile the German attack on the left is still very, very menacing. The German attack bleeds its infantry support away, but the Stug IV's and Panther manage to silence (though not destroy) a deadly British 17 pounder ATG support company (how many of these exist as they are quite frightening?). The Panzer IVH battalion looks poised for a breakthrough push (see below):     

Then the weather forecast turns bad. Light rains turn into heavy "Typhoons" as the RAF tactical fighter wing pays Jerry a visit. Note the God-like hands of the FAC (see below):

The rocket firing Typhoons make a big bang or two, disrupting the advance of the Panzer IVH battalion, stalling the German preparations (see below). Despite the devastation from above a second British infantry platoon bites the dust, but again the morale test is passed and the Brits are still up for it.   

Although not a killer blow the prospect of serial air and artillery attacks, backed on by further British infantry/armour reinforcements dent the German counterattacks prospects of success. Attacking well dug in infantry backed with good indirect, artillery and air assets at only 2:1 odds, despite having armour looks too tough a task for the Germans. Interestedly historically it played out to the same outcome, the infantry and armour assaults were beaten off after a limited success (I didn't even manage that!). Good Club game, I made my request for the next assault to go in at at least 3:1 odds ;)

The right hand part of the assault may pay benefit of closer examination as I think the German infantry could get a localised superiority. Sounds like a future solo game for my "man-cave".

Monday 18 June 2012

The Rumble of German Artillery ... and then the British Return Fire

Right Hand Side German Assault:

With no targets visible (due to a total recce failure) the German artillery brings down SMOKE with covers too companies of German infantry and the battalion command up to the swollen river (see below). On the left a reinforced company of five platoons move to contact with a "known" enemy held wood (again see below):

The covering British infantry platoons take out a German assault platoon as every indirect weapon in the British battalion arsenal comes hurtling at the attacking Germans. The British Divisional artillery assets are then called in to the "crisis point" (see below):  

The result is quite devastating, three more platoons of Germans "drop" (or rather disappear from the tabletop), all for a tiny German toehold is made at the southerly tip of the contested wood. Inside the wood a close combat hangs in the balance. The morale of the German infantry battalion is holding despite the mounting losses. In a desperate attempt to rock the British infantry battalions morale (otherwise all is for naught) the German artillery/indirect assets strike at redeploying British AT guns "in trucks" (which should be "slaughtered" in the open) and cause a heavy 'morale check' (see below):    

German Left Hand Side Assault: 

Another preliminary smoke barrage (one artillery battalion instead of two) and a German infantry company advances supported by a company of Stug IV's (see below, center), a second company of Infantry and Panthers in support can also be seen moving into position (see below lower right):

Immediately the infantry takes "telling fire" from stationary British infantry (see below):

The attack presses on in the face of fierce opposition. Despite the attentions of a support company of 17 pounder ATG the German SS attack crosses the river and goes in (see below top). The situation looks ominous for the British, who despite no losses (yet) see a fresh Panzer IVH battalion enter the fray as the potential breakthrough force (see bottom left below):  

The German attack on the right seems to have stalled but the armoured Kampf Gruppe attack on the left looks promising. In desperation the British commander is trying to contact his flying taxi circuit of Typhoon Jabos and making begging calls for more artillery support.

Next: Weather Forecast "Wet, Windy and Severe Danger of Typhoons"

Friday 15 June 2012

A Stroll Through The Fields of Normandy (1/300 WWII BGC)

Scenario: July 1944 British Normandy Breakout German Counterattack

The British under Montgomery have used one of their armoured divisions to push hard at the Germans near Caen and have obtained a limited success, a dent rather than breaking through the German lines. The British RTR retires and three battalions of British Infantry (two up and one back) move in and "hold the line". The Germans meanwhile scratch together a armoured SS Kampf Gruppe and a motorised (though everybody seems to walk in Normandy these days) normal infantry regiment for a hasty counterattack. As with the "haste" the vital reconnaissance roll for the Germans (down to "yours truly") is lousy and the attack has to go in "blind".

The Germans line up, the left hand side is the armoured Kampf Gruppe (with one company of Panthers and one company of Stug IV's), backed up with a battalion of Panzer IVH's and no sadly not my toys, they did not make it to the table, yet (see below). The formations had to "hog" terrain (AFV's in reverse slope positions and in cover) to fit within the deployment zone without being spotted:

On the German right hand side the German infantry forms up. Being 'foot-sloggers' and much harder to see they manage to get much closer to the British Infantry positions without being seen (see below). The light brown strip at the top of both pictures is a swollen river marking the extent of the British "push" at the Germans.

With the Germans deployed the British Infantry form two cauldrons of death in front of the German advance (see the defensive position in front of the German armoured formation below). Such is the penalty for fixing the positions of no enemy units with your reconnaissance patrols. Each British Infantry battalion has a company of 17pdr attached and is on-line to the Divisional Artillery and has been "promised" service from the RAF Normandy Typhoon 'taxi-rank' circling the battlefield.   

The German infantry faces a similar situation on the right of the battlefield as the German sees it (see below):

Next: The German artillery opens up, but on what?

Monday 11 June 2012

Man Cave Update

Moving house:

The house move is now long done, the boxes are unpacked (or hidden in the loft), hurrah, but most of my time seems to be spent in the garden or with household DIY tasks so the 'other' hobby is not getting much of a look in at the moment :(

But life is good and I have big plans, partly because I now have a real "man-cave" and for the first time since 1996 (I kid you not) my home may also be the scene of a tabletop battle. My previous wargames since then were all away dates at the club or at a friends house.

My previous "man cave" was limited to the humble painting bench situation in-house, warm, near the TV albeit with the occasional interloping inquisitive child (see below the painting tray):

Space-wise I have upgraded :)

I have been experimenting in the garage with a 'pretend battle' (ahem, man in tinkering mode, see below) of Renaissance 'pike' versus 'pike and others' to get a sense of what could be achieved:

Resting on two paste tables are my 24" by 24" 15mm DBA battle boards courtesy of MDF/chip-board sections cut to size at B&Q, then flocked and sculpted with TLC. Although designed with 15mm in mind they also seem to hold the 25/28mm figures well. Circa 1996 these paste boards were considered leading edge DIY/wargaming technology, aka remember those wobbly legs and a distinct dipping sensation in the middle. They were definitely not to be rested upon, especially when slightly drunk. Note: there was a third table but my father sequestered it for actual wall papering duties (the philistine) and never returned it. My mounted troops move in to check out the 'new landscape' (see below):  

The garage is on the cold side, a heater will be needed for the 'winter' campaigning, the lighting may have to be improved on but the seating is really classy at the moment as the house 'bar stools' which can pneumatically go up and down, are deemed too dangerous to have in the house with young children around and so reside in 'said garage' :) 

A double garage without a car in it is definitely "a man-cave" begging "tinnies" and a weekend christening to discern of the neighbours wondering what on earth all that strange noise is about :)  

Saturday 9 June 2012

Final Parting Shots ... To Be Resumed (WoW WWI Dogfight)

Even in his departure the brave Englishman flying the Sopwith Pup took a parting snapshot at the Yellow Peril (aka 'Kevin the Junker'). The resounding retort back that clattered along his airframe confirmed his conviction that it was really time to scatter while his plane kept together (see below): 

Pierre waves his English comrade off (see below). While his plane was structurally intact (as in over half its hit points intact) and bullets were still in the barrel Pierre still fancied his chances, particularly given his current tactical advantage (almost but not quite "tailing" the Yellow Peril Albatross, see below).

A streaming dog fight ensued as the the chain of scout, scout and two-seater did several circuits of the board (see below). The two-seater was always at a disadvantage being just a tad slower but annoyingly its rear gunner started chalking up odd hits on Pierre's N17. 

Again and again the Yellow Peril remained just out of reach of Pierre, as he never quite gained that "killer position" (see below). Again the Pink Terror's rear gunner is seen waiting patiently for his chance to "pop" Pierre on the return orbit. 

With his ammunition now almost spent and his plane's "rudder and tail" mechanism now rather tattered Pierre calls it a day. Frustratingly his last few shots seem not to have made any impression on the Yellow Peril. Despite both the Sopwith Pup and N17 passing many a damage card to "Junker Kevin" the steely German seemed to be as resolute and combat fit as at the start of play. He must have had nerves of steel? With a gentleman's nod and salute to his German opponent Pierre heads West to find friendlier skies (see below): 

Leaving the German Imperial Air Service in his wake Pierre breaks off contact (see below). The engagement was counted as a tactical draw (one German shot down, one British retired and teeth drawn as Pierre vacates enemy air space). The campaign carries on with the Entente still holding the tactical advantage over this section of the front. Pierre makes a mental note to consult his 'temporary RFC armorer' regarding the ineffectual French machine guns. Was it the sighting mechanism or the bullets at fault surely not crack-shot Pierre's skill?

Further investigation at the airfield (post game examination of the damage packs) reveals Pierre had been using training ammunition 'blanks' (literally a stream of "0" and "minor no left/right turns" cards). Cursing his luck Pierre retires to bed clutching a bottle of cheap cognac while accepting the Englishman's invitation for "morning clay pigeon shooting" the following day.

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Death in the Skies (WoW continued)

The vicious air combat breaks apart, the Englishman with a torn tail and the hunting Albatross who won't be deigned its pound of flesh (see below). Sensing the kill the Austrian vows to circle back: 

Meanwhile Pierre and the Yellow Peril (aka Kevin) exchange more than just close range stares, with Pierre just managing to time a meaningful burst from his two LMG's (see below - my arc just catches the German, how unsporting, I hope it stung, well war is hell after all - or maybe that's the DBx side of me coming out again): 

The pickled formations weave in and out of each other with finally the Englishman and Austrian closing head on for a game of "chicken" (well before James Dean did it in "Rebel Without A Cause" I may add):

They both choose to turn the same way, the Englishman sweats as the Austrian's choice of turn and Albatross turning characteristics places him perfectly behind him for the short range killing shot ... just like the Baron taught him (see below):  

Argh, but no, too much throttle! Instead of pouring lead into the Tommy the Austrian sees the landing wheels of the Sopwith Pup loom large and clatter into his upper wing directly above his head. The smell of gasoline fills his cockpit in an explosive pall that suddenly ignites into his fiery death. The Sopwith Pup lurches too, damaged but flyable (see below):   

What an unusual way to bring down your enemy. The Sopwith Pup retires and Pierre is left with his own personal battle with the Yellow Peril and Pink Terror.

Pierre's "Engishman" Friend

In the adrenaline fueled frenzy of the short range fly past (see below) Pierre had lost sight of the Englishman he had briefly met in the bar the night before, concentrating instead on the Yellow peril Albatross instead.

Thankfully the Englishman had kept a watchful eye out for Pierre and as a second Albatross showed interest in young Pierre, the Englishman shared a few Lewis rounds with the German (see below): 

A frantic chase ensued, RFC scout versus Imperial German Air Service scout, also featuring the humorous Pink Terror two-seater too slow to do any chasing but more content to be the floating obstacle and firing its "rotating gun turret" (see below): 

The German (sorry Austrian, I stand corrected) gains the advantage and peppers the Englishman's tail (see below) hurting but not killing the RFC officer:  

Meanwhile Pierre is returning the compliment on the other side of the table, er I mean sky (see below):

Plenty of twisting and turning but no kills as of yet, but that is soon to change!