Friday 31 March 2023

Murmansk Convoy Ships: 1/3000 Navwar

 Seen from a distance, a sneaky German recon plane spies its target in the cold, northern waters - radios its position and expect all hell to break loose (see below, my "dirtied up" [aka with a rusty brown wash] Navwar, 1/3000 British Convoy): 

This is in preparation for "Halsey" Murmansk Convoy operation, with tactical game play using "NIMITZ".

Thursday 30 March 2023

DAK Attack - Rules from "Offensive Miniatures"

Shiny Alert! I am on a Western Desert LRDP and SAS theme at the moment (see below, I saw this mentioned between wargaming friends online, looks appealing):

But I know "nothing" of it (other than it looks appealing).

Friday 24 March 2023

Connections North 2023 Details - Professional Wargaming in Canada


Registration is now open for the Connections North professional (war)gaming conference. This will be held at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa on 9 June 2023

CONNECTIONS NORTH is an annual conference devoted to conflict simulation, wargaming, and other serious games. It is intended for national security professionals, policymakers, researchers, educators, game designers, university students, and others interested in the field of the use of serious games for analysis, planning, education, and training. This year’s conference will address:

  • The state of serious gaming across Canada, with two panels devoted to national security gaming and other educational and policy gaming respectively.
  • Gaming ethical challenges.
  • Building and gaming future perspectives: Canadian perspectives.

In addition, there will be time available for networking, game demonstrations, and touring the War Museum’s new wargaming exhibition. 

We are grateful for support from Defence Research and Development Canada and the Canadian War Museum for the conference. Connections North is a proud cosponsor of the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming.

Thursday 23 March 2023

Audible Book: All Hands Down - USS Scorpion

I decided to go for a quicker and lighter Audible book (in length, though not necessary in topic), but keeping to the naval theme, this time more modern (Cold War), albeit in 1968 - the unofficial hypothesis of the loss of the USS Scorpion, to alleged Soviet action. Which is an attention grabbing headline if ever there was one. Allegedly the attack on the USS Scorpion was in retaliation to the earlier loss of K-129 near Hawaii in mysterious circumstances, the Soviet Sub being the later focus of the CIA backed Glomar Explorer expedition to recover [part] of it (see below, "All Hands Down" gave a very good picture of what it was like to serve on a US nuclear submarine and the lifestyle of the "dolphin" families had to endure - and you really did feel that the US Navy let the families down afterwards):  

Whether true or not is conjecture, though a compelling case was made, particularly with relevance to US serviceman turning traitor (John Anthony Walker) and passing on communication code cipher secrets to the Soviets and the capture of US communication equipment in North Korea (USS Pueblo). There was a huge window of opportunity for the Soviets to electronically eaves drop on US Naval Operations, with the US blissfully unaware that their communications were deeply compromised. What is also clear, was the the sixties and early seventies were a tense time of frequent Cold War Superpower confrontations, many of which had the potential to spark a general East-West war. From the Cuban missile crisis, the ongoing Berlin tensions, the Kennedy assassination, the ongoing Vietnam War and while general bipolar mistrust of the period. 

It is amazing the world survived in retrospect.

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Airfix 1/72 Airborne and Willy's Jeeps

It goes without saying that you can never have too many jeeps in a WW2 Western US or British Allied army. Hence the unmade box of plastics spilled forth four more jeeps to be made, three of which were the new Airfix Airborne type and one a Willy's [ex-Heller] recon type (see below, the Heller kit was missing the lower chassis part so a clever bit of plastic card substitution, if I do say so myself, was introduced): 

I suppose the airborne jeeps can also double as SAS jeeps in Western Europe 44-45 as well. The impressive bit about the new Airfix kits is the range of MGs you can add to them, as well as the extremely useful 75mm pack howitzer (see below, which pretty much pads out my immediate need for any more allied utility vehicles): 

It was a nice general build.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Wing Commander Luddite - Wargaming Content on YouTube

Another example of a Wargamer taking to the Internet airwaves (YouTube) to distribute wargaming content and inspiration (see below, a wargaming friend with a nice artistic touch to his work):

Good stuff, love the basing.

Monday 20 March 2023

Audible Book: Pedestal - Max Hastings

With my current diet of dog walking, car journeys and kitchen washing-up duties I have managed to ply through some Audible books running nicely in the background (see below, one of the latest being Pedestal by Max Hating which concerns the epic 1942 convoy run to relieve the siege of Malta):   

A straightforward chronological churn (not meant in a bad way, but in the same way the convoy made its sojourn to its Malta destination under intense Axis fire) of the convoy battle and all its different phases. It did up-end my rather simplistic narrative (probably based on post war Allied propaganda and black and white war films) of a valiant mission fought through with outstanding RN pluck (which there certainly was plenty of, alongside that of the Merchant Marine) to a worthy win in the expected traditions of the RN. Rather it was a game of two halves, the first with the convoy holding formation under duress with the heavy covering force present (albeit taking casualties, such as HMS Eagle [sunk], HMS Indomitable [damaged] and HMS Nigeria [damaged]), then when the heavy covering force withdrew (with its reduced intrinsic air support) a second brutal half of chaos and confusion under increased Axis air and small boat (MAS and E-Boat) attack - but with utter confusion on the British side (the convoy losing its formation and defensive structure). The Axis reigned superior here sinking many merchantmen and more cruisers [HMS Cairo and HMS Manchester (sunk) and HMS Kenya (damaged)]. Despite the disorganisation and confusion, the battered and brave remnants "got through" - some like the Brisbane Star making her "own way". Many curious and potentially ill thought decisions on both sides were highlighted, albeit with the benefit of hindsight, but it seems to have been a major Axis "missed opportunity" despite the dreadful toll inflicted. All it would have took was a sally by the Regina Marina and better target priority of the Axis bombers to sink the merchantmen [there was certain fixation on aircraft carriers and large warships] where and whenever possible (discuss). I enjoyed it and it is a battle on my wargaming "bucket list" (maybe with the Nimitz ruleset). 

Sunday 19 March 2023

Wandering around the Web: Phil Sabin's YouTube Channel

Wandering round the web and you bump into some old friends (see below Phil Sabin's YouTube Channel hosting some interesting videos - including some instructional on his air  wargames):

Saturday 18 March 2023

Wargames Development Website - Revamp

A nice new revamp of the Wargames Development Website:

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Nimitz - Sam Mustafa Wargame Rules .. is it "The One"?

Is it the .. "The One Set of Naval WWII Rules" .. (to rule them all) that I have been waiting for all my wargaming life (pass me my Hood and Rodney and bring out your Bismarck models)? Now I am a man who has collected a few set of naval rules over the years (and that is an understatement of sorts). I am a grizzled fifty plus year old with a large ship collection - some of which are even painted - in various scales. Post my Paul Hague "Sea Battles (in miniature)" adolescent gaming, I was weaned onto General Quarters I (for WWII) and General Quarters II (for the Great War, aka WWI) .. which were very close to very damn, damn good IMHO - bar time consuming for large fleet actions [but don't ask my opinion on General Quarters III as I think it "went the wrong way" counting turrets rather than abstracting firepower and they broke it .. sniff]. Then there were many such as Sea Krieg that had oodles of charts [but killed playability IMHO]. There were the insanely simple ones (from Full Thrust variants to one brain cell rules, akin to Victory at Sea and Victory in the Pacific Avalon Hill board games - and no I am not forgetting AH Jutland). The great David Manly produced some fine sets of Russo-Jap, WWI and WWII (which I bought and meant to really get into .. but time needed and the urge to learn yet another set, while "feeling around" for the native intuition of what the rule writer wanted to convey - left me cold) .. but what I really, really [Spice Girls] want, is to find the sweet spot of a "pick up an play" set of rules which give very reasonable [but not deterministic] historical results - quickly (as in quicker than the historical battle took) .. that lead into extended campaign play, of multiple scenarios - without premature umpire brain death. I am a man who discovered Fletcher Pratt very late in life, thanks to Wargames Developments [Nugget articles] and the History of Wargames Project [collating, then editing, reprinting and selling the rules]. There I see the beautiful analogue ingenuity of the firing mechanisms [hell it is a damn close to the same set of rules used by the professional US Naval War College in their inter-war years re-fights of Jutland and Sable Island [the latter being the hypothetical USN against the RN action], but for all its historical accuracy and fun suffers from the "mass is mostest and bestest" paradigm .. 48,000 tonnes of Hood could take on the 45,000 (or was it 50,000) tonnes of the Bismarck. No critical hits and punctuated equilibrium, but graduated damage. So back to Sam Mustafa's Nimitz (see below, a good book cover with the great man himself looking out over a battle scene with the USN's finest DDs doing battle, with the backdrop of a historical map): 

I went for the Amazon local print option and am currently digesting it. So far and so good, it is really two sets of rules in one - Nimitz for the tactical and Halsey for the campaign, which I like. Watch this space for further details and hopefully an AAR soon ;) 

Monday 6 March 2023

Airfix Lee/Grant scrapped together from a Donation and bits from the Scrap Box.

The different coloured pieces of plastic tells the sorry tale in itself. This "baby" Grant Tank on the right comes from multiple parents .. at least one brown/orange, one yellow and one green Airfix Lee/Grant kit (plus some hobby store plastic-card, a curved front from what I think was a M36 Jackson, "Sherman(?)" rollers and a PSC storage box to cover a bodged hull to chassis seam). A Frankenstein of sorts or patchwork quilt, but rather than a sad model discarded to the bin, it has a new least of life. I also loved the "edge of your seat" challenge in the making of it (see below, in its front facing Grant guise):  

The rear shot shows the white plastic-card surfaces where the composite spare parts-did not quite stretch or cover enough (see below, though it has to be said working with "old brittle plastic" from the 1970's or 1980's is a curse as it had a tendency to crumble or splinter under pressure - this was a peculiar challenge for me as I had to first disassemble the previous attempt at building it [basically a carcass] and reassemble it [from a haphazard trapezoid to a more regular rectangular cross section]): 

The Lee part of the tale is just a turret swap as it shares the hull, so with a newly completed Lee turret you have the option of two types of tank (see below, the Lee turret was taken from the "original" orange/brown plastic kit - where the majority of the pieces for this kit came from - again care being taken with its brittleness as the Lee turret has some fiddly MG parts): 

Just remembered: The final note is that the "green" track came from the "spare" (as in the more detailed track option) in the new Airfix Sherman Firefly kit I have already made. There you go, I have one more tank to fight the Axis with. It also just shows you the usefulness of keeping a spares box (or two).  

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Audible: War In The West - Part II 1941-43 - James Holland

I was pleased that I continued with the James Holland's WWII trilogy. Whereas odd bits can grind (the DAK to the best of my knowledge [aka books] and internet searching did not use Czech 38t tanks - that seems to be a Rommel, France 1940, 7th Pz Division reference all mixed up), the general sweep and flow is a brilliant story. The mid-part of the war is the gutsy heart where it was all up for grabs - the Western Desert, Russia and Midway. All good stuff, the seeds of German failure are already sown, the Allied rewards though are yet to be harvested (see below, a book that was nice to have while listening in the car and walking the dog):    

Finally, Stalingrad and Tunis were two nails in the Axis coffin. With the U-Boat war turned after May 1943 Germany's options seemed to be running out, setting the scene nicely for the final drama. Two books down and the third will follow. Looking forward to it but I will take a break first - Max Hastings again next, this time with the Pedestal Convoy and a tale of Malta.