Friday 31 May 2019

Mortal Gods

I am a sucker for a good looking game in a box. I am already an owner of Test of Honour (although I have still to make the figures and play it) so my eye was naturally drawn to an excuse to collect 28mm Ancient Hoplites. I have eyed up Command and Colours for using my 15mm Ancients in large battles but 28mm IMHO is an individualised painting affair, hence my purchase (see below, suitable expansion packs already exist .. for the Spartans and ehe Athenians):

Watch this space as I am in the process of sticking together 28mm Victrix figures!

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Command Magazine #11: Hougemont "Rock of Waterloo"

I have always wanted to play this classic early Command Magazine game, "Hougemont: Rock of Waterloo" (some say the early Command Magazine games were the best). I had the chance to bring it 'out of the packet' to play with some wargaming friends the other day in a "get our collective heads round the rules and play test of mechanics" mode. By the end we were getting there but I am sure another read through is required to fully grasp the colour and "hex terrain" considerations. It played well though (see below, a mere thirty years old and still ready to play fresh out of the bag with the counters still in mint condition):

There are plenty of French (see below, three waves of them in fact):

And pitiful few British, Nassau and Hanoverian defenders (see below, these are the reserves released or rather drip fed into the action):

The original on the board units are eight British Guards at the back and twelve German lights sent forwards (see below, top marks if you can spot them all - extra counters are their leaders):

Please excuse the angle of the photograph but the French move from a released row, to a advancing row and then to the board proper. You literally see them coming towards you from afar - with nothing you can do about it (see below, "Thousands of them Sarge!")

Given the numbers a column tried to run round the outside of the board but were caught by a neat game mechanic of off-table artillery - losing 50% of their number (though note, casualties is not one of the victory conditions - capturing objectives is). The other Frenchies chase the Germans away from the hedge they were defending and further into the woods (see below, there is a nice little game mechanic which is a defender reaction (when within eight hexes) in the attackers phase, which allows the defenders to fire and move (back) first so they are simply not "overrun"):

Trading space for firing works well until you run out of space to trade. The German troops are now pushed back as far as they can go. The French have taken enough casualties for Napoleon to commit another "wave". Whereas the British have not quite convinced Wellington of their dire state - this will come soon). The "other" Allied defenders are roving Howitzer batteries lobbing [guessing where the French troops are going to be with an interesting scatter rule] down air and ground burst (see below, only turn two out of ten and it is looking tight for the Allied troops):

We stopped there so we could re-read the fortification rules of the Chateau and 'a thing or two about gates'. There is plenty of chrome and flavour yet to come. I like the thought of transferring this to the tabletop with miniatures somehow!

Monday 27 May 2019

Somethings are just for Fun: Gretchins

I was wandering round my local Boyes store and came across the "model" aisle and saw they had started stocking GW products, with a discount. GW is a fringe interest of mine, more on the Sci-Fi figures of "interest front" as opposed to playing 40K. Space Crusade is the closest I really come. The big stuff has frightening price tags but oddities like "Gretchins" almost accommodate sensible pricing - 11 miniatures for under £9 was 'almost' value. However the animation of the characters finally sold it to me (see below, the big dude in the middle is their Orc master): 

However, for the record, I am not a fan of "Orcs in Space". It's all a bit of Space Crusade fun really!

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Bucket List Update 2019

These are not late New Years Resolutions  but are things to do in what remains of 2019!
Added 16/03/2019
Update 19/05/2019

Games Systems to Play: 
  • Impetus 2 [WIP] Inertia/Interest Problem ...
  • SAGA 2 [WIP] Inertia/Interest Problem ...
  • [Done] DBA Version 3 [Yes]
    • Waiting now on Biblical Armies and influences by Alexandros and Lost Battles approach to Ancients
  • What a Tanker 
    • Need to beg a friend (Renko?) to play this with me!
  • Chain of Command
    • Need to beg a friend (Renko?) to play this with me!
  • Cruel Seas [WIP]
    • Waiting to play but will benefit from rule clarifications - still painting the models
  • AH Panzer Blitz Tabletop Conversion [YES]
    • France 1940
  • Command Decision
    • This one is on me! The question is whether to use 1/200 - 10mm or what I historically collected for this game 20mm (think it will be the former)
  • Recon (Vietnam Skirmish) RPG [WIP] Inertia/Interest Problem ...
  • Mortal Gods 28mm Ancient Skirmish [WIP]
    • Currently basing the 28mm Hoplites
Board Games to Play: 
  • Command Magazine #10: Alexandros [Done]
    • Done - Play test and game
    • Plan to re-cock game at Gaugemala and figure out how to win as a Macedonian and then take on the rest of the world
  • Avalon Hill's France 1940: Queued up to do .. post AH Panzer Blitz
  • Command Magazine #42 Blitzkrieg 1940: Queued up to do .. post AH Panzer Blitz
  • GMT Games: Victory In The West: Plan Yellow: Queued up to do .. post AH Panzer Blitz
  • Command Magazine #14 Midway [Done]
    • Now assembling the Navwar 1/3000 scale Fleets
  • Avalon Hill: Sink the Bismarck: Queued up to do ...
    • Getting ready for simultaneous online gaming/blogging community playing multiple games (being arranged by David Manly)
      • Fletcher Pratt 1:1200
      • GQII: 1/3000
  • GMT Games: A Distant Plain: Queued up to do ...
    • Local Player Interest ... 
  • Fire-Move Battalion Attack
    • Arranged for Connections UK 2019
Places to Go: 
  • Conference of Wargamers 2019
    • Presenting - Sleeping Satellite Game
  • Connections UK 2019
    • Running FireMove Battalion Attack game
    • Helping with Sleeping Satellite game
  • Stockton Battleground 2019 Wargames Show [WIP]
    • Helping a friend stage Leipzig in 10mm
New Periods to Paint:
  • 1/300 WWII Naval - Cruel Seas Inertia/Interest Problem ...
    • E-Boat Construction/paint [WIP]
    • MTB Construction/Painting [WIP]
    • PT-Boat Construction/Painting [WIP]
  • 6mm Era I Biblical - DBA Version 3
    • Hittites (I/24) [YES]
    • New Kingdom Egyptians (I/22) [WIP]
  • 10mm Western Desert - AH Panzer Blitz Tabletop Conversion Queued up to do ...
  • 15mm Malburian Inertia/Interest Problem ...
    • The Battle of Malplaquet [Done]
    • Malburian Armies to paint .. Queued up to do.
  • 28mm Dark Ages - SAGA 2 Inertia/Interest Problem ...
  • 28mm Malburian - "Rule Set to be Determined" 
    • [Done] Battle of Ramillies
    • AH Rule Set Conversion .. Hexes [WIP]
  • 28mm Napoleonics [WIP]
    • French Infantry (Perry/Victrix)
    • French Hussar (Warlord/Perry)
    • British Infantry (Victrix)
  • 28mm WWII American GIs (Perry) [WIP]
Old Friends to Finish Off/Play:
  • 1/200 and 10mm Early War WWII - AH Panzer Blitz Tabletop Conversion Queued up to do ...
    • British Infantry and Armour Inertia/Interest Problem ...
  • 10mm Late War WWII Queued up to do ...
    • 1943-45 American Infantry Platoon Inertia/Interest Problem ...
    • 1943-45 British Infantry Platoon Inertia/Interest Problem ...
  • 15mm Ancients - DBA Version 3 [Done]
    • Early Acheamenid Persians - 7Hd Required Inertia/Interest Problem ...
  • 15mm WWII - What a Tanker [WIP] Inertia/Interest Problem ...
  • 20mm WWII - What a Tanker, Chain of Command Inertia/Interest Problem ...
  • 28mm Ancients - Impetus 2 Inertia/Interest Problem ...
  • 28mm Italian Wars - Impetus 2 Inertia/Interest Problem ...
    • Light Cavalry and Pike Blocks required

Monday 20 May 2019

Late to the Party: Using a Daylight Bulb

I have previously owned one daylight bulb and used it to good effect, but sadly lapsed back into bad ways. No more, back to the path of the straight and narrow. Perhaps it will be remembered as the best £7 I ever spent in my life for a light bulb. This being a "daylight light bulb" from Hobby Craft  - it was kind of an impulse buy - but one I am glad to have made (see below, the before - normal (9W LED bulb) but casting a slightly yellow tinge to everything):

The after with a whiter foam head on the Guinness (see below, the 60W equivalent [in old bulb wattage not new LED ones], being whiter and brighter):

Can you spot the difference? All I can say is that the difference is dramatic in real-life. The strain from painting seems far less on my eyes which is a good thing with advancing age. So it was just as well Hobby Craft lacked anything interesting (kit-based) to me in the modelling section.

Sunday 19 May 2019

Defending The Rock: Book (Nicholas Rankin)

Along with looking in awe at Enigma Machines and the architecture of the British Library "inner space" I succumbed to buying  book from the British Library Bookshop - I think it was the trauma of being n a library and not being able to "browse"aisles of books (see below, I have his other books on Churchill's Wizards and Ian Fleming's Commandos, but confession I have not yet read them ):

I was fascinated by the premise of the book - Hitler regretted not taking Gibraltar in 1940 and blamed that action in 1945 for 'losing the war'. Fascinating reading. A nice little book that you can jump around and don't have to read sequentially. The chapters being more 'short stories' than strict chronology. The German analysis activities in 1940 were fascinating!

Saturday 18 May 2019

Squadron Scramble: (TSR) Battle of Britain Game

Context: Britain's Darkest Hour (see below, "Green" Spitfires of 10, 11 and 12 Group await the Luftwaffe Fleets taking off from Northern France (Nos 2 and 3) based in France):

Eagle Day: The Luftwaffe Missions and Squadrons are assigned and RAF WAAFs waiting by plotting tables waiting ready to see Goering is disappointed (see below, the RAF Flights are assigned and scrambled as the enemy formations are picked up on the Radar Home Chain, attacked - honours even as only 50% of the Bomber Missions completed):

Another wave of German bombers is prepared. The RAF gets points for just surviving while the German Luftwaffe has to complete missions (see below, German Squadrons are being traded 1:1 with RAF Flights):

A morale boost for the RAF as the celebrity RAF Duck Display Team does a morale boosting tour of 12 Group Squadrons. The Luftwaffe are ahead on the points and the RAF have a tough turn ahead of them (see below, 12 Group have been giving 11 Group sterling support):

The air battle for London and Canterbury define the strategic campaign. Both German Missions are stopped dead in their tracks, including a sacrificial exchange by a Beaufighter Squadron bounced by Me 109s (see below, the bombing of London fails and the RAF jumps ahead with the populace appreciating the sacrifice "The Few" are making): 

The Luftwaffe embark on another desperate mission to "Bomb London" but meets with the RAF "Steel Wall of Spitfires" and a "Taxi Rank of Hurricanes". The bombers were annihilated before the bombing phase (see below, this turn was damage limitation on behalf of the Luftwaffe as they were beaten across the board):

After four turns the basic game completed with an obvious RAF win. One important lesson was for the RAF not to needlessly dogfight with German Fighters (even the lame duck Me 110 "Destroyers") unless they are stacked with bombers.

Next Steps: Review the changes in dog-fighting in the advanced rules.

The original TSR Game of Board Game Geek:
Note: This has has two interesting reviews

The Plastic Soldier Company revamp of the TSR Battle of Britain game has an interesting review: 

Just in case it disappears here it is in full: 
Battle of Britain, from PSC Games, is a thrilling game that depicts the 1940-1941 Battle of Britain. One player plays the German Luftwaffe as it tries to bomb British cities, airfields, and radar installations, while the other player takes on the role of the British RAF as it desperately tries to defend the island from the enemy onslaught. The board is a map of England and the channel, as well as the north coast of France and a small section of Norway. The German player has Luftflotte player boards for his cards, while the British player has RAF player boards for his cards. There are different scenarios and a campaign game that players can do. A typical scenario will last four game rounds.
During the game rounds the German player will draw a number of "mission" cards and assign them to his various squadrons. On his turn he will move the various squadrons from their bases in France and Norway to over Britain. When they cross into Britain's radar cover, the British player may choose to intercept and moves one of his squadrons from up to three spaces away into the same space, however he can only engage in a total of five combats per found to reflect Britain's limited resources. The German player then moves all of his non-intercepted aircraft toward their targets, spending fuel supply as he does so. The British player can then decide to attack certain German squadrons with his own, moving up to five spaces away, and within the five battle limit.
Combat occurs differently in interception than it does in dogfighting over the German targets. In both, players roll their fighter combat number (the top right number on the card) and try to score hits by rolling the enemy's symbol on their dice, (however, they can also roll their own symbol, which acts as a friendly fire hit). In interception, however, the British player plays all three of his squadron cards at the beginning of combat, and the German player can choose any three of his six squadron cards. Each player then rolls and casualties are assigned. A single hit is enough to take down one aircraft, up to its strength level. (For instance if two aircraft are in the fight and one has a strength level of three and the other of three, and four hits are rolled, both planes become casualties. If only three hits were rolled then only would be taken.) In dogfighting, each player lays down one card simultaneously, and they battle each other. If one card is able to score two hits that squadron becomes an ace squadron. British casualties go to a damaged aircraft section of the appropriate player board, while German casualties are eliminated from the game.
The German player then attempts to bomb their target, rolling the bombing number on the card. Depending on what the target is a certain number of success must be rolled. Damage tokens are placed on successfully bombed targets, and on the British player's infrastructure track. The German player then must fly his squadrons home. If he has exhausted all or most of his fuel tokens, he must roll to see if those planes make it home safely. At the beginning of the next round the British player may attempt to repair planes and bomb damage by rolling a number of dice from uncovered cities on the infrastructure track. Successes allow him to repair planes, airfields, and radar installations, but not cities. After four rounds scoring occurs. The German players scores for things like cities destroyed, aces created, and missions completed. The British player scores for things like enemy aircraft destroyed, aces created, and incomplete German missions. Whoever has the most points wins Battle of Britain.
There is a lot more to this game but these are the basic rules. The game was created by Richard Borg, better known for his Commands and Colors games, which are fantastic light wargames. Here, each player is given several tough choices. For instance, the German player must decide which missions to risk while the British player must decide which units to intercept and which to dogfight- and which to just let through to their targets. Each player must make choices during dogfighting combat- which planes to use is very important. And the British player must carefully consider what planes or facilities to repair with his limited resources. The tough decisions make for exciting narrative gameplay. The game looks great. The board is just beautiful and the minis are a nice touch. Players fell like their in the Cabinet War Rooms with Churchill sliding units across maps. The downside is that many of the plane minis do not fit easily on their stands, and it is easy to knock them over during gameplay. Some more dice would have been nice as well. These are minor complaints, however. Generally this is a fun and exciting light wargame that fans of World War II games should really take to. Check it out.

Friday 17 May 2019

Something Different .. An Enigma Machine

While passing through London Kings Cross i had an annoying "wait" for my train, so I decided to put it to some good use. Withing walking distance of the station is the British Library so I decided to be a tourist and have a look. Inside the building there was a sign that said "The Turing Institute" - which although closed to the General Public had this interesting piece of history on display (see below, an Enigma Machine [or mock-up]): 

Another interesting feature is that in the British Library (more museum if you ask me) it is very hard to get your hands on a book (unless you buy it) as you need to register for a "Readers Pass" and then I believe they go get it for you. No browsing. So I just used their free WiFi and had an expensive London coffee and bought a book but more of that later ;)

Thursday 16 May 2019

France 1940 - Panzer Blitz Rules (Play Test) - Hexes and Models (Part 3 of 3) The Germans Pull Back

The French seem to be having the run of the Random Number Generator today (see below, following the laws of statistics this top end result means another burning Panzer):

A last futile attacking gesture is made on the flank of the S-35s but to no avail (see below, the German numbers just don't seem to be coming up today):

In return a burning Pz II lights up the battlefield (see below, the S-35 Company seems to be a mobile part of the Maginot Line ensconced on the hill top):

The German Commander decides to gather the surviving German Panzers and retire behind a hastily constructed PAK screen (see below, getting what you can out of the fire is what counts now):

Even in this manoeuvre the German strength is frittered away by lucky parting French shots (see below, the German armour being hindered as there is no effective cover to use):

A German Panzer Grenadier Company occupies a French village so at least the Germans have a secure "jumping off point" for next time and a good FOO position (see below, it is reassuring to know armour is very poor at wrinkling out infantry from solid cover - but this time the German PAK gun line  suffers from the French 75mm back in its indirect fire role):

With one Panzer Grenadier Company holding the town the German Motorcycle Company mounts up to hold a wood on the flank of the town [off camera] and protect itself from being overrun by the French armour (see below, the German "high point" is strewn with burnt out German Panzers):

In hindsight the French were a far superior force with good tank and artillery. The Germans took on too tough a nut and did not back away pouring "good money after bad" into what was a lost cause. The only consolation the German player can take from the battle is that the French are now in fixed known defensive positions. The Luftwaffe and Heavy/Medium Artillery should soon pay them a visit. Battle honours go to the French here!

Wednesday 15 May 2019

France 1940 - Panzer Blitz Rules (Play Test) - Hexes and Models (Part 2 of 3) A Hail of Fire

The Germans regroup and rally from the devastating 75mm artillery barrage (see below, the Medium Panzer Company is the on;y unit on the German OoB that can take on the French S-35 Company):

All German tanks within range assault the hill with the S-35 Company, Mediums (Pz III, Pz IV) to the front and Light (Pz I, Pz II) to the flank  (see below, this head on attack will be a "all or nothing" - no damage as the armour of the S-35's is simply too tough):

The return fire from the S-35's is effective (see below, the clanking of the German shells on the S-35 turret sides at short range is off putting to the French Commander):

The French counterattack with all their armour for an almighty gang-bang of a battle (see below, French Panhards and R-35s move into combat range - no firing after a full move):

The last German Light Panzer Company along with teh Battalion Command is committed in hope of forcing the S-35s off the hill (see below, this head-on tactic seems doomed to failure):

Two Pz Is break off and flank the French hill top running into a French infantry Platoon and overrunning it (see below, the overrun assault shifts the combat heavily in the armour's favour): 

The French Infantry is no more (see below, triumphant Pz Is, not a sight you see everyday): 

With plenty of movement left the Pz Is execute another attack on an unfortunate French Infantry Platoon (see below, the war will be over in a matter of hours at this rate): 

Again the result is a devastating loss for the French Infantry Platoon (see below, if only there was a propaganda film crew were to hand):

The downside is that the tanks are now in direct line of sight to the French 75mm Field Guns which open fire on their turn (see below, the French 75mm gun is equally effective in the direct fire capacity):

The result is predictable and results in two burning Pz Is (see below, one of the perils of being alone in the enemy's back field is that you can be picked off):

Elsewhere the Light German Panzers fight it out with the Light French Armour trading blows (see below, French Panhards and Pz IIs burn):

The remaining German armour regroup and gather their strength outside the effective gun range of the S-35s (see below, three German Panzer companies have been reduced to a composite Panzer Company):

The S-35 seems to be a "super tank" - a Stuka or artillery barrage will be required to shift them.

Tuesday 14 May 2019

France 1940 - Panzer Blitz Rules (Play Test) - Hexes and Models (Part 1 of 3) Advance to Contact

Historically 69 years ago it was all kicking off in France. The Phoney war had ended and the shooting war had started. I had previously played a Panzer Blitz (Avalon Hill - General Magazine Supplement that covered the period) Gembloux Gap scenario, but was dissatisfied with the results. It was posted as a meeting encounter - whereas in history it was more like a recon in force by a Panzer Division (expecting trouble) hitting a 'hasty' defence. With fellow conspirators we re-jigged the original scenario and played it with my Skytrex and Pendrokon miniatures on Kallistra hexes. We stuck to the original AH premise that "two motorised" columns hit each other in a meeting engagement (see below, Germans top and French bottom - raise hexes represent gentle hills, green prints on MDF represent forests and brown MDF roads):

The German column (see below, Armoured Cars, Light Panzers, Motor Cycle Infantry followed by Medium Panzers):

The French get the initiative and grab the crest-line with tanks and armoured cars. They de-bus infantry (motor cyclists) to the right hand side forest and hills, backed up with Medium armour (the excellent S-35s). Additional French infantry dimount in to teh Grey village/town [BUA] and a French 'cavalry' unit mills around to the left flank of the town (see below, the IGoUGo really hurts the Germans here):

The French also unlimber their field artillery near their baseline (see below, the still impressive French 75mm FG and horse drawn transport - I suppose it is questionable if they could have kept up with the speed of the advance, let's say I had the models and wanted to use them):

The Panzers bounce to the French right. They do not like what they see down the middle of the table and try to 'overrun' the dismounted French motor cyclists (see below, the German armoured cars lead the way, AC 221, AC 222 and AC 232 - with MGs and light 20mm cannon are not bad against infantry):

A close up of the action (see below, even though both units are on the same gentle hill the armoured cars cannot conduct an overrun attack as the movement cost was too great to get there - had the French contested the slope they would gained a defensive bonus - halving the attackers FP. Unfortunately the French player (me) did not see the German attack coming so fast or have the movement required to get into the best position):

The French infantry take a battering and lose an infantry platoon, but are forced to retreat into the perilous open which is "tank fright" [albeit with ACs posing the danger] in the open and 'overrun territory' (see below, the French infantry will need the S-35 support soon, as it has to rally [to remove the smoke marker] or remain effectively useless to the French Commander):

French Rally Phase: The MG Platoon rallies but the normal French Infantry platoons keep on running (see below, the French MG platoon best hide quick):

The French Armour [Company] counter-attacks the German ACs as the French MG Platoon takes up a defensive position (hides) in the woods (see below, the S-35 should totally out class the German AC 221, AC 222 and AC 232 here):

As predicted carnage. The French can move half and fire half but even so the point blank range doubles their AT factor - which for the German ACs started off as "thinner than thin" (see below, the excellent French 47mm AT gun makes punishing holes in the German ACs):

The result is the complete and utter destruction of the German AC Company. Its primary role was recce and although the temptation was to pick-off some low hanging fruit - when 'tested' the ACs have no place in an armoured engagement with main battle tanks (see below, as worryingly for the German Commander the Company of light German tanks [Pz I, Pz II] top left is also out-classed if put into a pitched battle with the S-35s - creative tactics are now required): 

The French Commander is not done yet as his 75mm Field Guns can fire indirectly (see below, but what is there target?):

Answer: The most dangerous German unit on the table, the German Medium Armour Company - the only one that could take on the S-35s in a pitched battle (see below, they were hunkered behind a German occupied village but in direct line of sight to a French unit that could spot): 

The French fire causes a Pz III platoon to be destroyed and another to retreat. The heavier and more stubborn Pz IVs are ready to fight (see below, the retreating Pz III is displaced one square with a smoke marker to identify its retreating status):

The German advance is in a complete state of confusion and is stalled. The German Commander know he must stabilise the situation and push forwards aggressively. In meeting engagements it pays to take the initiative, be bold, take risks as necessary and not be too defensively minded. Well that is what it said in Guderian's and Rommel's books!