Thursday 31 January 2013

Renaissance Battle: Hussites versus Maximilian (Part 2)

The Infantry Attack:

In the center of the battlefield the opening rounds of the infantry confrontation began as the Maximilian skirmish Harquebusiers moved forwards, taking stock and careful aim at the "impossible to miss but improbably hard to hurt" mass of the Hussite Wagonburgs (see below):

Unfortunately the rash actions of these skirmishers above brought about their doom as a volley of 'opportunity fire' from said Wagonburgs came back with interest. Being within 'one measuring stick' of the enemy, the really bad news was that the Wagonburg attack constituted "various" anti-personnel weapon types (meaning I got to be on the receiving end of six dice in return to my paltry two in this simultaneous exchange).

The result was the "mysterious case of the disappearing skirmisher" (see below) as the locally dubbed "bricks and bottle" attack ripped them to pieces.

(1 break point against the Maximilian army)

These Wagonburgs are nasty beasts, the only thing in the Maximilian arsenal that looked like it stood a chance of "shifting them" was the much vaunted Maximilian Pike Block.

Next the Maximilien "Trained Harquebusier's" moved to a flanking position (see below, top left) and survived a ranged weapon exchange with another Wagonburg. Not caught on camera was a Hussite experimental tactic of  using a unit of Knights in an attempt to draw fire from the Maximilian heavy artillery piece away from the Wagonburgs (as heavy artillery love firing at Wagonburgs - rolling six dice even at long range). "Sad rolls" (for the Hussite, I tried my best to hide the Maximilian relief, nay glee) saw the Knights catch a casualty (therefore losing its Impetus and taking an edge off its offensive capability, the Hussite commander was gambling on just getting a disorder). Meanwhile the Maximilian Pike made slow headway under the ranged light artillery fire from the Wagonburgs. Push, push, push forward in disorder in the only way the Maximilian Pike know how to attack. Early days but the attack plan 'seems' to be holding together (ahem, famous last words).

Although technically still part of the Maximilian attack plan, my second unit of skirmishers (crossbowmen) die valiantly in the process of screening my 'upgraded' Pike Block from the attentions of the Hussite heavy ordnance.

(Therefore the slate is now 2 break points against the Maximilian Army). 

Both Pike Blocks are now looking somewhat "naked and exposed" to the elements (see below).

The Cavalry Battle is Concluded: 

Finishing off those Hussite Knights who were "pinned in a totally hopeless position" unexpectedly took quite some time. So much so that the Maximilian mounted crossbowmen, rather than dashing off to do harm elsewhere, were forced to lend a much needed helping hand

(Note to self: These "mounted crossbowmen" are very useful chaps to have on your side, classed as "lights" with that annoyingly fast "12 move", they can "evade", are "missile armed" and having that much sought after "Impetus combat value" to pitch in and help an ongoing melee or scare pure skirmishers away. Almost too good to be true, best check that their abilities have not been "overstated" by said Maximilian general) 

The mounted crossbowmen had to perform a "slide-slip" and thus ended up coming in disordered, but their extra dice probably tipped the balance as my combat dice rolling was not brilliant. 

However after another round of fierce combat the brave Hussites Knights passed away, in effect having been little more than a lengthy "diversion sign" (perhaps harsh) but failing to inflict nothing in return bar a couple of temporary disorders to mark a 'wake' of their passing (see below):

That made it 3 breaks points against the Hussite army, so overall: Hussite 3 (Break at 13) - Maximilian 2 (Break at 11) - still too close to call.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the battlefield: The Pike Blocks wee closing in on "that line" of Wagonburghs.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Renaissance Battle: Hussites versus Maximilian (Part 1)

On learning that a '300' point Hussite Impetus wargaming army had descended on the good people of Hartlepool a Maximilian relief force was dispatched from North Yorkshire. The hoard of Hussites (or should that read "wagon park") arrayed itself thus (see below) bringing fear and dread to the townsfolk.

All told:
  • Four War wagons(!)
  • Three units of Knights (one with General attached)
  • An artillery piece behind a cunning fortification 
The "Master of Hussites" secured his right flank with impassable terrain (just out of camera shot), with rough ground also to the left and right of his main battle line. Note: no need of a "Camp" for the Hussites. I deployed a fourth (optional) piece of impassable terrain to the left of his battle line, with the intention of "pinning him into a defensive mindset". To which he replied "Thanks you have just secured my flanks", hmm, both generals getting apparently they both wanted.

My Maximilian Italian Renaissance Army deployed thus (see above):
  • A central artillery piece, flanked either side by a "Pike Block" (Note: Only one base of rear support, 'quantity' was deemed to count for more than 'quality' in this battle)
  • Screened to the front by Harquebusiers and Crossbowmen in a thin skirmish line (two units)
  • A sleeve of "Trained Shot" again to the right and left flanks 
  • The left wing of horse is block of Knights (with General attached)
  • The right a 'deep' formation of Men-At-Arms supported by a unit of (light) mounted crossbowmen.
Note to self: A beautiful (borrowed) camp sits behind the Maximilian army (I need to paint myself a decent camp scene or two up from my Irregular Miniatures camp followers acquired at SmoggyCon last year).

The Maximilian force advanced "zulu" style with the wings (horns of the buffalo) running ahead of the slower moving Pike Blocks with the intention of laying down a hail of covering fire. Note: On reflection here I lost out on five, possible ten inches of movement here as the Hussites are an artillery heavy force so there was no place to hide. Disorder would soon be the "normal state" and the Pike best "suck in air through its teeth" and press on to seal the matter in hand-to-hand combat.  

The right hand side wing of horse and trained shot are cautiously eying a Hussite unit of Knights just out of camera shot (see above, top right). My mounted crossbowmen are screening the Men-At-Arms and Trained Shot as the former (in their cumbersome formation) angled themselves to what they thought would be an advantageous tactical position (fingers crossed).

The Hussite Knights tried to 'intimidate' the mounted crossbowmen, whom evaded in slippery style and enticed the Knights once again to come forward another bound. If the Knights passed a discipline test they would stand a very good chance of running these elusive light horsemen down. Instead they failed, laying in in a state of tepid disorder, directly in the path of my Germanic Men-At-Arms (that deep formation doesn't feel so cumbersome now) and even better it was now the Maximilian turn.

The MAA need  no second asking and they are off to the races, but a good Hussite discipline test dice roll mean that the Hussite Knights, though in a perilous position, take a casualty and "hang on" (see above). The MAA formation makes me burn "my one dice of destiny" as they roll terrible on the discipline test, but pass on the re-roll.

The focus of attention now drifts back onto the infantry attack in the center! 

Tuesday 22 January 2013

The Troops Assemble: "Battalion Attack" (Mk I)

A small but perfectly formed little game:

The troops needed for the WWII infantry (rural battalion attack) have been assembled (see below), nineteen infantry stands in all:

The Attackers: A British Infantry Battalion (circa 1944):
  • 'A' Coy (3 Platoons)
  • 'B' Coy (3 Platoons)
  • 'C' Coy (3 Platoons)
  • 'D' Coy (3 Platoons)
  • HMG Support Platoon
  • 81mm Mortar Support Platoon (Off Table)
The Attacking Stands:

'A' and 'B' Coys (see below):

'C' and 'D' Coys (see below):

HMG Vickers Support Platoon (see below):

Note: The attackers have a 2:1 numerical advantage, an indirect mortar attack per turn, a static "indirect" HMG shoot plus an initial artillery barrage (that can 'suppress' but not 'kill'). The latter factors could be thought of as a 'column shift' making it approximately equivalent to a 3:1 attack requirement. The defenders are also in "hasty defenses" rather than permanent fortified emplacements and subject to an improvised battalion attack on a spotted weakness on the enemy front line before it gets reinforced.  

The Defenders: Two Understrength German Infantry Companies (circa 1944): 
  • '1st' Company (3 Platoons)
  • '2nd' Company (3 Platoons)
  • 81mm Mortar Support Platoon (Off Table)
The Defending Stands: 

'1st' Company (see below):

'2nd' Company (see below):

All the above figures come from Skytrex's Action 200 range (1/200). The above British OoB can be made up from 4 x British Infantry Packets (A010) + 1 x HMG Packet (A013), while the Germans OoB can be made from 2 x LMG (A031) Packets. In total (excluding P&P) it would be under £13.65 by their website, so for a "game" it is a fairly cheap affair in terms of toys.

My Figures: 

I just gutted the infantry companies from a 1940 Infantry Battalion I had set up for a Spearhead/BGC organisation and quickly painted up (and I do mean quickly) a Vickers MMG stand. The Germans were just LMG's I had 'surplus' from my "early war" 1939-41 1/200 "German Panzer Division" project I have (a bit like a DBM army spawning many a little DBA army).1/300 would be equally attractive for the "small squad" look (though each stand is supposed to represent 40 troops).

Likewise 15mm or 'old fashioned plastic' 20mm (in 3's or 4's) would be an equally attractive representation, maybe on slightly bigger bases. To bulk up the counters to represent the platoons into "four squads and leaders" (just for visual appearance sakes) I have my eye on using piles of my old Squad Leader counters (though I might have to use the "Russians" rather than the British counters as I don't remember 'Crescendo of Doom' having an excess of British units).

Saturday 19 January 2013

Peloponnesian War (Delium 424 BC Project): Reading List

Moving on from the Persian invasion of Greece circa 480 BC (and also the prequel Marathon affair 490 BC), the time has come to read and research the Peloponnesian War in a "proper" fashion. This is a period of ancient history I have "ducked" before, skipping straight past onto Alexander the Great and the 'counter-invasion'. I guess it was the discomforting thought of "good guys turning bad" as the heroes of the Persian invasion turning on one another that just made the thing unpalatable.

However as the last BBDBA battle (Platea BC 479) gave me the opportunity to finally read the "Father of History", the "Big H" (as in Herodotus) from cover to cover, my seconf BBDBA (Delium 424 BC) of the Peloponnesian War similarly gives me the opportunity to read the "Big T" (as in Thucydides) from start to finish.

The reading list has been assembled (a bit like assembling the Athenian Fleet):
  • Thucydides: The History of the Peloponnesian War
  • Strassler: The Landmark Thucydides,A Comprehensive Guide to The Peloponnesian War 
  • Lendon: Song of Wrath, The Pelopponesian War Begins
  • Kagan: The Peloponnesian War, Athens and Sparta in Savage Conflict 431-404BC (One Volume version)
  • Hanson: A War Like No Other, How the Athenians and Spartans fought the Peloponnesian War
  • Osprey Campaign Series (195): Syracuse 415-413 BC, Destruction of the Athenian Imperial Fleet
  • Sabin: Lost Battles, Reconstructing the Great Clashes of the Ancient Worl
  • Peter Connelly:Greece and Rome at War
  • Victory Games:The Peloponnesian War (Solitaire)
Some of the above have already been read but others still remain outstanding. The game date is set for "deep" (third week of) March 2013

Friday 18 January 2013

The Zvezda surrogate "DC3 Dakota" or "C47 SkyTrain" the Russian license-build LI-2

A grainy photograph (see below) of the Allied equivalent of the Ju-52, the legendary "DC-3 Dakota" or "C-47 SkyTrain" (I'm really not sure of the difference). This is courtesy of Zvezda providing a cheap model to surrogate in. It was a Russian license made version that was still used in the Cold War, called the Li-2 and it does the trick for me. Eagle eyed aviation experts would see many a difference but again I care not.   

It will appear on my tabletop where paratroopers or supplies are needed. The Russians also used it in a light bomber role (or shall we say "pressed" it into service) bit I removed the defensive dorsal turret to pull it firmly into the DC-3/C-47 stable. Having got one (on an evaluation trial), methinks I'll try and pick up another couple.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

A Battle to be Played: "Over and Over Again"

This is my WWII (land) project for 2013. 

It is a battle scenario based on Phillip Sabin's "Fire and Movement" game in his book Simulating War. It does not require that many figures or a particularly large board. In many ways is resembles the "portable wargaming" craze that has been sweeping the varios CoW (Conference of Wargamers) blogs (for example see Bob Cordery's blog "Wagaming Miscellany").

The scenario Phillip Sabin's poses is of interest when I think back to the mid-1990's when I was feverishly collecting (at that time exclusively 20mm) WWII toys. I was left with an awful sinking feeling that after I had painted and based them (at that time for the Command Decision rule set, a project that in itself is still "not complete" and an active never ending Work In Progress [WIP]), I still didn't or wouldn't know what to do with the "toys". Not just the mechanics of the rules (hard enough), but a sensible way to set things up. Yes there were scenario's ... but did they really make any sense? What for a battalion's purpose was a sensible sort of fight (and yes I know war is not fair).  

By this I meant "What was a realistic battle scenario" in terms of space and time?". What was a common battle the rules were meant to control and simulate. All the 'command and control' commentary in Designers Notes describing commanding Divisional strength table top formations (which I personally is over reaching Command Decision) didn't help me nor did the interesting aspect of rates of fire. I needed a simple scenario to blood myself on infantry combat.

The Scenario:

A infantry battalion is on the "attack", against a half a battalion of infantry under "hasty defensive positions", as in using cover rather than entrenchments. The attackers are a full strength whereas the defenders are deemed under strength (roughly 2:1, 13 attacking stands to the defenders 6 [all stands representing platoons]). Good or lucky intelligence has directed the attack against a sector that "should give" or "could hold" depending upon the tactics and skill of the attacker (plus a bit of "lady luck"). The defenders are trying to cover a kilometer wide frontage and can call upon an indirect fire base (medium 81mm mortar) while the attacker has the luxury of an initial artillery barrage (25pdrs or 105mm howitzers), then a mortar and indirect machine gun fire bases. The additional support assets seem to tip the odds in the attackers favour but there is a large random element of "battlefield terrain" creates a good deal of uncertainty (as it is generated new each time). The duration of the attack is deemed to be abut "two" hours which translates into about 12 x 10 minute turns. The "board" is twelve hexes wide (the kilometer "battle zone" of the defending battalion) and six hexes deep. The determination of victory is determined in an attritional manner of "unbroken" units on the enemy baseline at the end of the twelve turns. Thus it is assumed that the full battalion "should be able to dislodge" two companies out of 'hasty positions'. .

Starting from this more board-game orientated description I plan to take "the scenario" for a long walk, starting with Sabin's rules and then through the various rule-sets I possess, varying nationalities and periods (early, mid and late WW2). Initially from Simulating War the attack is envisioned to take place in 1944, Normandy/France, with a British Infantry Battalion advancing against a composite, scratch force of German Infantry, reduced from an initial battalion and supplemented by "a series drafts" of replacement sections and platoons that 'keep making up'the numbers up.

Kit to use:

The battles should be suitable for my: 1/300, 1/200, 20mm, 1/72 and 1/76 toys (but not all at the same time), heck I might even start things off with my old Squad Leader counters

Rules to Use (Initial List): 
  • Fire and Movement (Phillip Sabin)
  • Command Decision II/II/I
  • Spearhead
  • Battle Group Commander 
  • CrossFire
  • Great Battles of WWII
  • Squad Leader
Watch this space ...

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Harry and his bucketful of dinosaurs (well "lizardmen")

A surprise project! Ahem, alert fantasy ... on the painting tray. 

An unexpected arrival for 2013. I have acquired a bucketful of "oldish" Games Workshop Lizardmen (see below):

Your classic "tin of goodies" being discarded from the depths of my local wargames club's shelves. Not an army as such but odd bits, mostly plastic but some metals. A selection of figure types are shown below:   

The aim is to let my kiddies paint them with me, put on some bright colours suitable for reptiles and wash them dark with inks, let them settle down and highlight at my leisure, unless the kids steal them as extra "baddies" for their Star Wars Lego adventures. This chap below has shades of "Jabba the Hut", although I do have to find (or make) an "arm" from the pile of discards. All part of the fun of the hobby.

Even the basic GW Lizardman foot soldier has a certain charm (see below):

There are certainly enough of them to tear apart a low level party of adventurers (evil DM laughter fades ...), the smaller ones being ideal substitute for small "Kobolds" (carrying poisonous blow-pipes ... more evil DM laughter).   

Monday 7 January 2013

Revell kits to watch out for in 2013

Two "naval" spots from Revell:

Spot one:
1/700 RN WWII "HMS Kelly"

For WWII destroyer actions a re-release of an old Matchbox kit methinks, HMS Kelly (a WWII RN J-K Class Destroyer), waterline to boot (see below):

I just hope Revell release the other Matchbox waterline ships of yore too:
  • USS San Diego
  • USS Indianapolis
  • USS Fletcher
  • HMS Exeter (very tasty, I do have a 1/500 scale kit of this "but" in 1/700 is far better)
  • HMS Duke of York
  • HMS Ariadne
  • KM Graf Spee
  • KM Narvik Class "Z" Destroyer
  • KM Bismarck.
Spot two: 
1/1200 WWII "IJNS Shinano"

I have already got this one but it is nice to see it releases from the back catalog (see below):

Model on and good hunting!

Note: Still trying to spot that J-K class destroyer in the model shops!

Sunday 6 January 2013

"Books Read over Xmas" and new Projects Spawned

Over the Xmas break I also finished reading a very interesting book (see below):

But now the real work begins as although teh content itself was interesting, it also contained seven games (which although designated board games in my eyes should be taken to the tabletop) that simply set up and beg to be played. In particular two WWII era infantry games:
  • Fire and Movement (A rural infantry battle: "an attacking battalion versus two defending companies")
  • Blockbusting (An urban battle: "an attacking company versus two defending platoons")
Maps can be found at: Phil Sabin's King's College Website Link
Half way down the page you will see an "Infantry Combat" Link which gives a useful PDF to Print Out

The intention is to take them to the tabletop and play them over and over again, then contrast them with some of my many existing WWII rule sets (Command Decision, Spearhead, BGC, Great Battles of WWII, Squad Leader to name but a few) to 'compare and contrast' and see what comes out in the mix. If I had a new years resolution it would have been to make more use of my WWII assets (er, I mean toys).

That's not to say I am forgoing the ancients as Strategos II, BBDBA and Phil Sabin's book on "Lost Battles" figure highly on my radar screen. 

Oh and I have also to paint the Bismarck (again) and finish off my 1/72 Mosquito and Westland Whirlwind

Saturday 5 January 2013

Naval WWII "Heavy Metal"

Ahoy there sailor!

Over the Xmas holidays I managed a couple of 'late nights to myself' with a 'brandy and lemonade' (yes I was raiding the drinks cabinet in the small hours) putting together my last two 1/1200 unmade kits from the Airfix "Sink the Bismarck" party pack box set, the mighty KM Bismarck herself and one of her taunting shadowers, HMS Suffolk (see below):  

I have to say, it was not a chore, but something I have been meaning to do for a long, long time. My naval wargaming comes in fits and starts, but the 1/1200 scale KM Bismarck kit is a "quick assembly" pleasure to put together (see below). Note: I already have one done from the Revell 1/1200 waterline series, as well as possessing a 1/1200 metal kit, but I think the Airfix one is far superior (or am I just getting nostalgic?), a side effect perhaps of already having the 1/600 scale model kit available to shrink down (and thus 'reduce' any modelling errors). 

HMS Suffolk was another delight (see below), again Airfix make her in 1/600 too so the same short odf "error reduction" is probably at play here again. 

As per my original "Sink the Bismarck" post way back, I was extremely lucky to be gifted two of these RN County class cruisers in my "Sink the Bismarck" set by some kind Airfix "packing elf" (I just hope no one was one short somewhere else in the world). I briefly toyed withe idea of converting the second 'County' cruiser into the historic "scouting cruiser" partner (HMS Norfolk) but when I discovered it was slightly more fiddly than "raising up and filling in" the lowered stern (HMS Suffolk has a stern that drops down just a tad for an eighth of the ships length) I "passed" and will  happily call her HMS Berwick (an identical Suffolk sister that did sterling convoy work) or generically refer to her as "an eight inch RN cruiser".

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Happy New Year 2013

Best Wishes to "one and all" in 2013
I hope it is a good for you and your families