Wednesday 30 May 2018

Don't Miss Out on Warlord Games FREE Rules (PDF) Giveaway (Hail Caesar, Pike and Shotte and Black Powder)

FREE PDFs (usually £20 each)

Hail Caesar
Pike and Shotte
Black Powder

Also check out:

Blood Red Skies
Test of Honour (usually £5)

Bren Carrier photos from Shildon Museum visit

As well as Tim Peake's capsule I notice a Bren Carrier on a flat-bed carraige. I could not help myself and took a closer look (see below):

The Divisional Insignia is from the Polar Bears, who for the most of the war garrisoned Iceland then were transferred to fight in Normandy. Interestingly when you see something in the flesh (or metal) you suddenly realise what 'stupid' painting assumptions you make (see below, my 'bits of wood' are never ask coloured as below - but a much darker brown):

The 'not so spacious' Bren Carrier interior - I think Tim Peake and his fellow cosmonauts might well feel at home in such tight a space (see below):

Final note: Bronze Green! With a satin or gloss finish to it. I need to either repaint mu late-war British kit or apply "thick layers of mud" to them!

Tuesday 29 May 2018

1940: Panzer Leader - Gembloux Gap Scenario

The Panzer Leader 1940 Gembloux Gap Scenario: A "meeting engagement" which was not quite historical as the Germans probed a hasty French defence.

Nevertheless we played it as per the scenario. I worked back from the maximum first moves (as per the scenario instructions to see that the columns would hit each other in the middle of the board. So in effect apart from deciding on the "order of march" the game will start on Turn 2 for the French (see below): 

Note: Please see this link for Panzer Leader Scenarios:
The parent Web-Site contains lots of good stuff too:

This scenario is Scenario 21: Belgium Clash of Armour

Game Turn One: The march to contact (see below):

Game Turn Two: The collision of the two juggernauts. With their slight advantage in speed the French have taken the opportunity to gain the "Forrest" and lower "Hill" whereas the Germans start with a couple of "Town Hexes" (see below):

The Germans taking a page from the Biltzkrieg manual plug the "Town" as a defensive backstop with some troops and then try to outflank the French above the "Forrest" and gain possession of the larger hill (see below):

The battle fragments into two separate engagements. The French armour assaults the "Town" and manages to nick an unoccupied hex - which means they will be hard to extract. However the French troops outside the town are being "chipped" away and it looks a 'score draw' in this sector with the Germans 'pinned' and the French 'frustrated' unable to exploit their gains. Meanwhile behind the "Forest" the Germans have tried a bold outflanking move and overrun attack on the French motorised infantry column of transports (see below):

However before the overrun attacks are conducted (which would mean goodbye to a third of the French force) we need to consult the rules. In the basic game the overrun would go in despite the Germans being in clear sight of the French .. which seems unrealistic. We go with the advanced rule which allows the French to fire before they reach the overrun targets but the forgo their fire/move for the next go - although there are no modifiers for trying to hit a fast moving target. The result is a lot of burning German tanks .. definitely a French win in this sector. Overall the French have it and as the German Commander I glumly look at my wrecked Panzer Regiment (see below, not much grey left above the wood, I have infiltrated my motorised infantry to attack the French artillery in the enemy rear though):

Summary: The Germans made a beginners mistake in trying to "run through the gun". To be fair it was the first time the advanced "opportunity fire" rule really came into effect. A replay could well be on the cards although the encounter scenario seems to far away from the historical battle it was rather an opportunity (or rather only opportunity) to play with the French S35 Somua kit. A review of the Order of Battle for the scenario (see below):

The French had the better kit and some nice artillery. The Germans were faster and had more tanks but in this era (apart from moving cross country) armoured cars and tanks had comparable armament and in some cases armour! A more historical scenario would be with the French defensively deployed on the first board.

Monday 28 May 2018

Tim Peake's Space Capsule: York Railway Museum

Same space capsule, and if anything it looked smaller, but this time at York Railway museum (see below, note the circular glass panel on the right was not there during the launch, but cut in afterwards so you could get a better view of the cramped claustrophobic conditions):

I have to say the Shildon folks put on a better display as there were plenty of volunteers telling you lots of interesting extra facts. For example on the actual mission, there was such a tight set of docking parameters to the International Space Station that when the docking computer broke) they has to do a manual docking process, but get it wrong and they were floating off lost into "deep space". They did it with just two minutes to spare!

Sunday 27 May 2018

Tim Peake's Space Capsule at Shildon Railway Museum

Hard to believe it but someone (actually three) sat inside this thing and went up into space then came back down again (see below, the parachute mechanism is to right and to the left an "after the event" observation portal into the interior):

I kinda think it looks like the head of a giant Dr. Who robot villain (see below):

Hats off to you Tim Peake you are a braver man than I am ;) Also a big thank you to the Shildon volunteer experts who made the visit all the more worthwhile by being on hand to tell kids and adults alike interesting facts.

Saturday 26 May 2018

Soviet Infantry 28mm - MMG (Maxim) Team

My Stalingrad Soviets are in dire need of support, so production of Maxim MG Teams has been decreed a priority ... moving over to the painting table and my Black Tree Design metal reinforcements (see below, sitting in their Pringle top cubical waiting for their turn):

Detail done on the gunner and loader, now to do the maxim (see below):

Painted up and based (extra detail to follow). It did not make the Stalingrad play-test game as I was only given two support points and this cost three. Its time will come (see below, eyes focused ahead looking for German targets):

What about the snipers, mortars and anti-tank and infantry support guns I hear you ask? A letter to comrade Stalin is required!

Friday 25 May 2018

28mm Russian Soviet Infantry (aka The Russians are Coming!) - Last Stages of Painting

Slightly out of sequence as these are the boys that fought in Heroes Square in the last Chain of Command Game in the Stalingrad play test. How the platoon is looking (see below): 

The uniform has been highlighted up form Vallejo [as per all the other colours mentioned here] English Uniform, washed brown, painted again, mixed with Khaki Grey and then Khaki. The grey fur hat was washed with Smoke and Stone Grey then mixed with white for a highlight (see below):

The Soviet LMG (a metal model from Black Tree) was similarly painted and the webbing and leather belt pouches were given a one colour fits all: Flat Brown, Leather Brown then Red Leather. The "blanket" is German Camo Beige which is highlighted with Pale Blue (see below):

"Later in the day" after various other dibs and dabs had been applied including sand to the base we have the table ready artefact. I hummed and 'arred but finally decided to give the Russians "eyes". After all I am not going to be collecting many of these (see below):

This one is a little "bug-eyed" and needed a little (wash and flesh) touch up to calm them down (see below):

Getting close to completion. All that remains to do is the basing, a washed grey, highlight and then as an artistic touch stained with layers of various red, yellow, green, blue, black and brown washes. Just to make then difference from "grey" (see below):

The platoon is now pronounced "ready for Stalingrad" although it still looks light with support assets!

Thursday 24 May 2018

When I need to just to "reset my thoughts" .. I paint Sci-Fi, the "trashier the better" ;)

From a gratuitous Space Marine Terminator (from my "holiday toy shop sale moment") that in intend to use in Space Crusade (see below, I have not decided which 'Chapter' to bulk up - his 'native' land is the Ultra Marines):

To a variety of randomly collected "charity shop" Space Marines - again destined to await a hideous fate in an interstellar Space Hulk (see below, once primed they got the Sepia Wash treatment):

And it is just plain fun! And I feel cleansed afterwards. Not bugged by the demon of historical accuracy .. whatever goes in Sci-Fi and that's why I randomly collect it. This stuff is GW but that is just chance ;)

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Wargaming Project - WoSS target date December 2018 - Malburian, Ramillies in 28mm

Note to self: Malburian Battle Reference Site

I intend to contribute a painted unit of 28mm French (actually Spanish Walloon) troops [18 painted figures] - the Grimaldi Brigade for Ramillies which sounds like a low-end supermarket to me (see reference below):

Wish me luck this is my first WoSS 28mm painting project in this period!

The Walloons apparently like coats of "Green" ;)

PS: Any handy tips for painting this period appreciated!

Monday 21 May 2018

Blood Red Skies: Battle of Britain - Bomber Escort Mission (Part 3)

The Hurricanes tussle with the Me110's having a tough battle with the frontal passes (see below)

Mixing it up they find contrary to popular belief the Me 110s can be nimble and actually having the drop on speed against the Hurricane move and hence can shoot first (see below):

Numbers should help though as four more Hurricane friends swoop in to assist (see below):

Meanwhile in the entangled melee of Spitfires and Me109s the two Germans are fighting for their lives. Although not shot down the Germans have acquired five "boom" chits through narrow misses from the Spitfires shooting. Two more "boom chits" and the formation will break its morale and run for home. This was the gamble the British player sought as he passed the Me109's head on (perhaps a bit too risky on calmer reflection). The Spitfires also got in some telling side shots but failed to get on Jerries' tail and produce a clear kill (see below):

Realising that the key was to down the bombers a Spitfire pair broke through to get the Dorniers. Two hits required to down a bomber so you have to be persistent. The good news was that if you hit them the bombers have a very poor chance to dodge unlike those crafty Me109 fighters. One bomber was sent spiralling down in flames but a Spitfire paid the ultimate price (always watch your six) as a Me109 got on its tail and downed it. However only one more German bomber downed to 'stop the raid' (see below):

A wider panoramic view sees the Spitfires giving the lone Me109 hell, but with a Skill of 4 the German pilot is just managing just to hold it together, praying for the other escorting Me109s to come to his aid. Luckily for him the frantic cries of the bomber crews have released them from their static positions and eight fighter escorts sweep down [4 x Me110s and 4 x Me109s] at an 'advantaged' state (see below):

Across the other side of the table and to overuse a common wartime phrase, "all hell breaks loose" (again) as the Hurricanes have to deal with four Me110s arriving just at the wrong time (if you are wearing RAF Blue). Cannon fire sweeps the sky. One Hurricane pilot pays the ultimate sacrifice and the mission suddenly looks to be "hanging in the balance" or rather "gone to rat-poo". Off camera the Spitfires fair better and manage to survive the initial onslaught of the 'bouncing' four additional Me109s, and eventually break the Me109's squadron morale. The Me109s will "bug out" having still their complete number plus one enemy (precious Spitfire) kill to their credit, although they failed to protect the bombers! That certainly will not go down well at Headquarters back in France. (see below):

The bravery and skill of the Hurricane pilots pays dividends as "F" for "Freddie" gets in amongst the bombers and in a skilful display of "this is how you do it" with two shots in one turn downs the second Dornier, thus breaking the German Bomber Squadron's morale. With nothing left to protect the Me110s are more concerned for their own safety and 'also 'break off'. The Me110's claim two kills. Three RAF fighters were lost in total to two Germans bombers (three engines to four engines in Albert Speer terms). The RAF claim a strategic win as the bombers did not get through (see below, the Hurricanes bring home the bacon):

Back in France a different sort of hell breaks loose. The Bomber Squadrons again complain of "no protection" from the fighters. They claim the beloved fighter tactic of "High Escorts" is a flawed concept. What is the point of having any fighters at all, if they don't turn up until the bombers are being attacked and shot down. The German fighter pilots are appalled as this means meeting Spitfires on very unequal terms - which one particular Level Skill 4 Me109 pilot knows will probably be the end of his Me109 squadron. He returns home to his squadron after the unruly staff conference to hear the hearty sing song from the officers canteen. This is bitter sweet as they are in good spirits. He knows for sure there will be far less Luftwaffe pilots returning from the next mission thanks to Goering's decision to deploy "close escorts" so that the "bombers will get through".

Meanwhile a recently "downed" and abashed Spitfire pilot is being lectured by a more experienced comrade. "Listen Fango [his Mess nickname], you would have still been in the air if you had thought a little quicker and performed the 'defensive tactics' [a card in the British player's hand] manoeuvre interrupting the Hun with a simple 'tight turn', then that nasty blighter of on Me109 would not have been on your tail and you wouldn't have been at a disadvantage. It's like a game of cards Fango, don't miss a trick. Now take a look at the new Spitfire we've got for you and get a good night's sleep. You'll be up again tomorrow."

PS: Once again thanks to Renko for the hosting the game with very nice models and a much more complete understanding of the rules. In the words of Amazon and Whiskers if you like the above, nine out of ten cats who expressed a preference, also liked:

PPS: Many thanks to Asgard Games for hosting this event. Always nice to have access to a hot cup of tea during a wargame ;)

Sunday 20 May 2018

Blood Red Skies: Battle of Britain - Bomber Escort Mission (Part 2)

The Hurricanes rose in unison to get to an "advantaged" position to meet the threat posed by the twin-engines, double-seated with 'evil' rear gunner. They do shift and have a special "agile"ability card which takes them out of the "bomber clumsy" category (see below):

The battle had broken down into two separate dog-fights: the Hurricanes versus the Me110's and the Spitfires versus the Me109s (see below):

When you go through a cloud (see middle of the picture below) you reset your status to "neutral" (see below):

The bombers make their clumsy was forwards. The German commander was reconsidering teh wisdom of setting their initial position to "disadvantaged" as I could not see how they could gain a better status in the tactical context of this dogfight. It simply takes the bombers too long to do anything in comparison to the nimble fighters. Once you are in a "disadvantaged" position it is very "easy" to get shot down (see below):

Meanwhile the Spitfires were keen to press ahead with their advantage in numbers over the pair of Me 109s and harass the German fighters out of the game before the extra German "top cover" could descend (see below): 

Snowdrop  Leader: "Tally Ho!" Game on. The Spitfires try a head-on attack against the Me 109s which allows the Germans to fire back. A dangerous tactic as the Me 109 has two nasty 20mm cannons and a heavier weight of fire (see below, the red tracer of 'the first round of combat'):

All depended on the "luck of the nice" but the Spits had their "blood up"!

Next: "Achtung Spitfire!"

PS: Thanks to Renko for the hosting the game with very nice models and a much more complete understanding of the rules. In the words of Amazon and Whiskers if you like the above, nine out of ten cats who expressed a preference, also liked:

Saturday 19 May 2018

Blood Red Skies: Battle of Britain - Bomber Escort Mission (Part 1)

Somewhere over France 1940, the German Luftwaffe masses its planes for a strike into the heart of England with a deadly combination of single-seater (Me109s), twin-engined (Me110's) and twin-engined bombers (what looked to me as Dorniers, but I could be wrong. A vast armada of 15 planes against 12 RAF - six Spitfires and six Hurricanes (see below, which is good odds for the RAF in 1940):

The Germans place the bomber formation [3] on the table (middle left) with two pairs of low level escorts on table [2 x Me109 + 2 x Me110], with the remainder in two flights of "high escorts" [4 x Me109 + 4 x Me 110] that come into play as soon as a "boom chit" is placed on a German bomber (see below): 

Spot the difference? The inclination of a plane indicated its state - facing up means "at advantage", level means "neutral" and facing down means at disadvantage which means it is relatively easy to be shot down. The German opts to disadvantage his bombers but advantage his fighters as per the scenario specific options. The Spitfires (top right) and Hurricanes (bottom right) entered in three 'wing-man' pairs (see below, answers on a postcard):

The Spitfires (me) race in eager to press home an advantage on the Me109s by sheer weight of numbers. The planes are too far away from each other for combat (see below, note clouds do block line of sight and revert status to neutral which could be 'good' or 'bad'):

Another better photograph of the same scene (see below):

The Hurricanes "amble" in. Their opposition are the Me110's. I thought these would just be a liability however I was dutifully informed they pack a considerable punch and are not clumsy bombers but flown well can give Hurricane pilots sleepless nights (which was news to me). The British players played a special Radar card to allow them to improve their individual plane statuses (see below)

We were all set up and now about to enter combat range. It is not an IGYO system but dependant on skill level and status to determine "who goes next". This means random patches of excitement happen all over the board and the safe determinism of hex based board games is  nowhere in sight.

PS: Thanks to Renko for the hosting the game with very nice models and a much more complete understanding of the rules. In the words of Amazon and Whiskers if you like the above, nine out of ten cats who expressed a preference, also liked:

Friday 18 May 2018

Friends, Romans (in Warloard Games 28mm hard plastic) and Countryman .. are calling me!

Yes I remember these now classic figures first from a plastic giveaway by Warlord Games. I remember them taking the wargame world by storm, being the first of the 28mm plastic revolution. The sexy Early Imperial Roman Legionary was literally given away "in the early part of this century" attached to a Wargames magazine (Wargames Illustrated I think). I painted it. It nearly killed me (tortured perhaps is a better word) but I finished it (see below, I was happy!):

You see I was mostly a WWII man at that time, my Greek ancients were metal and in 15mm - so what use had I for this 28mm giant? But it had a certain beguile about, a charm. I knew it was a wargame classic. Everybody else seemed to be painting hoards of 28mm plastic ancients; Early Imperial Romans fought Ancient Britons across the tabletop terrain in every club .. Warhammer Historical and then Impetus if I remember correctly, even DBA/DBM (or DBMM). Some day I said to myself, me too. A 'decade' later I picked up these Early Imperial Roman warriors (Starter Set) on eBay for a song, then paid as much as again for half the number of 'other' figures (cavalry and slingers) from Warlord Games in metal to finish off the required types (and I am still missing a Scorpion)! So back to the roots of things and the painting guide at the back of the Warhammer Historical Ancient Battles rules (see below):

"The Guide and my current Bible" to painting an Early Imperial Roman Legionary:

Following the instructions in the Warhammer Historical painting guidelines the figures were first undercoated white and then blocked in base colours - which I describe as "my teenager level of painting" just put some colour on the figures as a basic starting point, with no concept of needing layers (see below, my "tester sample of eight" alongside my original and its hand painted shied):

The white undercoat (from my healthy stock of Airfix Acrylic 34, from my many an Airfix starter kit [as yet unmade but their paints and brushes plundered], as I still have been unable to find a supply of Airfix 01 Grey Acrylic primer in the hobby stores I frequent) certainly does make the applied colours brighter, but I personally don't like the way is shows up "the bits you missed", unlike black or dark brown (see below): 

Okay I am thinking I could fall into a brainless "Factory System" here, which is a good thing. My first eight of the sixty basic legion in the starter box. I am still unsure how I am going to base them. Single sabots (suitable for Warhammer Ancient Battles or Hail Caesar) or fixed to a diorama base (Impetus) or blocks of four (for DBA or DBM/DBMM - the latter is highly unlikely)?

Next: The Legion awaits a "brown" and a "black" wash on different parts of their bodies ;)