Thursday, 6 June 2019

1/600 Romanians

Latest models off the stocks (or rather off the printer) are the core of my new Romanian flotilla in 1/600. An interesting mix of Vosper, BPB and MAS boats with a trio of MFPs in support. There are also three Kriegsfischkutter to complete the set (plus an extra one due to the arrangements I used when I was printing) plus a larger 1/300 "mother hen".

Also tucked in there are a couple of 1/300 MFPs, so far these are the largest 3D prints that I've attempted. I was most impressed with the skills of the modeller, the detail in the weapons is awesome (so good in fact that the 1/600 models have problems with the extremely fine barrels.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Denmark Strait - The Battle

I played out my Denmark Strait battle last night on the anniversary of the battle. Alas no photos as the lighting in the lounge isn't great (and I forgot anyway). The game was played using my "Find, Fix and Strike" rules.

Battle of the Denmark Straits

Battle was joined at 0558 as Hood and Bismark began to trade shots at 25,000 yards, Hood scored first blood, causing a hit and minor damage to Bismarck.

0604 – Holland completes his turn and closes with the German squadron. Over the next 10 minutes the range slowly drops to 18,000 yards. Bismarck scores a 15” hit on Hood, causing minor damage and a small fire. PoW suffers a gunnery failure

0614 – The range has fallen to 16,000 yards, PoW clears her gunnery problem and scores an immediate critical hit on Bismarck, causing heavy structural damage

0620 – Prinz Eugen engages Hood with 8” but to no effect. Return fire from secondaries on Hood and PoW cause minor damage to Prinz Eugen

0625 – Lutjens orders Prinz Eugen to close with Hood to execute a torpedo attack

0630 – Hood Alters course to the South to prepare for Prinz Eugen’s attack. Bismarck hits Hood but no serious damage is caused. Hood’s minor fire is extinguished.

0635 – Prinz Eugen prepares to launch torpedoes but is crippled by a deadly salvo from Hood. Her torpedoes run wide, missing the British flagship. At the same time a hit from PoW destroys Bismarck’s bridge, killing the Captain Lindemann and Admiral Lutjens

0638 – Both British battleships concentrate on Bismarck, but PoW’s guns fail again. Bismarck scores a heavy hit on Hood causing major damage

0646 – Hood is slowed by her damage and hauls off, but takes the opportunity to finish off the crippled Prinz Eugen.

0652 – Bismarck hits PoW for the first time but causes no damage. In return, PoW brings her guns back into action and causes heavy damage to Bismarck. This, combined with her earlier structural damage, slows the German battleship and places her at significant risk

0658 – PoW scores another heavy hit on Bismarck, leaving her crippled

0705 – Bismarck is now effectively unable to fight, but PoW’s guns fail again

0720 – PoW brings her guns back into action. In the next 12 minutes she hits Bismarck repeatedly leaving the German battleship in a sinking condition.

0725 -  Bismarck hauls down her colours as scuttling charges hasten the sinking of the once-proud battleship. PoW moves in to pick up survivors.

This was a fun game to play out, taking about an hour to complete (so not that much different from the time of the "actual" game, which was pleasing). I included the two British cruisers in the game but they were never in a position to affect the outcome. I included a rule that caused PoW to suffer a gunnery failure if a d6 roll of 5+ occurred at the start of the gunnery phase; the effect of this was to  cause PoW to check fire until the failure was completed (a d6 roll of 4+ at the start of each subsequent gunnery phase). This was a bit more severe than the actual effects of her failures in the battle, but served to speed up play and gave a good feel to the game.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Denmark Strait Scenario

Readers will have seen my earlier post regarding the battle of Denmark Strait, Briefly, the plan is for players around the world to refight the action on or around the anniversary using their favourite rule sets and to post AARs, letting us compare the results and to promote naval wargaming.

I've put together the standard scenario in a graphic below, and I'm planning at least 2 games, one using "Find, Fix and Strike", the other with GQ2. If I have time I might break out the 1/1200 collection as well and use the old Skytrex WW2 rules.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Save the Whales!

Around about 25 years ago I kicked off my Cod War project with a set of rules for an NWS participation game at the naval museum in Portsmouth. In 2006 I wrote a variant set covering the "whale wars", as Greenpeace and (more latterly) Sea Shepherd's attempts to frustrate Japanese whaling fleets hit the news. This was a fun, if somewhat controversial set but it was fun to play and I even had a marine biologist in New Zealand send me some feedback on how to make the whales (controlled by the game process) more realistic. I think they played it at the university in Auckland.

The big problem was models. Nobody made wargaming models of the ships involved. There were one or two 1/1250 collectors' models but they were hellishly expensive and of such fine construction that they would never stand up to the rigours of the wargames table. The release of Decapod's "Cod War" range on Shapeways gave me hope that perhaps some Whale Wars models would follow but alas not. Cardboard counters for ships and whales would have to suffice, as they had for many years. And so this part of the project languished.

Until now.

With a half decent 3D printer on hand the way was open if models were available. Whales - not a problem, loads of them out there. Some of he more unusual Sea Shepherd craft were available as well, notably the Ady Gill and the Brigitte Bardot. Further hunting around revealed a 3D graphics model of a Japanese whaler available for a very reasonable price. Downloaded, the model was converted into a format that I could work with by a good friend and was set up for printing. I wanted at least one of the larger Sea Shepherd ships and I found that Decapod had posted his "St Giles" trawler on Thingiverse (an online repository for free 3D models). Not white the right ship for what I had planned but I used it as a training opportunity in basic 3D modelling, cutting out the middle quarter of the ship and reattaching the bow, adding a flight deck and adding boats and davits to the working deck to make a rough approximation of the Steve Irwin.

So now off to the printer and after a few days (I was burning off Jem Hadar fighters and German R Boats in 1/600 and 1/300 at the same time) I had a decent collection of whalers, protester craft and whales, and the project is back on. The models aren't to a consistent scale - the whalers and the Steve Irwin are roughly 1/850, the smaller craft printed to a slightly larger scale to give them more presence, and the whales similarly larger. I'm quite leased with the results and I'm fairly certain that what I have just now is a pretty unique little set.

I need to make a few additional bits and pieces, some icebergs and one or two helicopters, but the main bulk of the collection is done.

Japanese whalers close in on a pod of whales as Sea Shepherd craft move to intercept

A trio of Japanese whalers

The Sea Shepherd fast craft fleet

"Almost" the Steve Irwin

Another view of the Steve Irwin

The Ady Gil - like something out of a science fiction film so I added the red light bridge windows

Th Sea Shepherd squadron

Another view of one of the Japanese trawlers

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

3D Fun

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to make a few pennies selling on some GHQ modern Germans that had been sitting on my shelf for too long. Just for one I decided to spoil myself and so a few days later I took delivery of an Anycubic Photon 3D resin printer. This is a nifty device that uses UV light to cure very thing layers of resin (down to 0.02mm) that form the subject of your model print. Since then I've been learning how the thing works, tweaking settings and arrangement of models on the print bed (which rises up out of the resin tank, quite remarkable). I've had quite a few failed prints bu I'm getting the hang of it and I must say I'm very pleased with the results. Obviously the main subjects have been ships and coastal forces models. With the release of Cruel Seas there have been a number of 1/300 scale 3D models put up on free download sites. I've made a few in 1/300, but the joy of 3D printing is that you can scale the models just as you can print a paper document at a reduced or enlarged size. So I've printed out a few new flotillas of 1/600 craft, as well as all seven of the Red Sands "Maunsell" forts that are in the Thames Estuary (essential for a CF campaign, they did trade shots with S Boats on several occasions)

A few examples of printed and painted models below; as I type the machine is working on a set of Star Trek ships, and the Moon Base from Gerry Anderson's "UFO" TV series is in the paint shop

SHADO Interceptors from "UFO"

The seven elements of Red Sands Fort

1/300 MGBs and an RAF rescue launch

1/200 Cessna O2

1/600 R Boats and SGB

1/600 MAS and MS boats

1/600 ASRL and HDMLs

1/600 MGBs


Monday, 8 April 2019

Stingray at Salute 2019

Saturday saw me and Stuart Machin making our way to the Excel Centre in Docklands for Salute 2019. Joined by Rob Hutton, Drew Jarman, Dave Sharp and Simon Stokes, we were running my "Stingray" participation game on behalf of the Naval Wargames Society. Salute is a long day for people manning stands or running games and this year was no exception, so after nine hours we were set to drop, but we'd had  a great day. We ran seven games with players young and old, all of whom had a great time. Many kind comments were received, and I picked up some good ideas for future developments. A lovely day out and, as usual, one of just a small handful of naval games at the show.

I even got interviewed for OnTableTop's live blog :)

As well as running the game I also got to catch up with loads of friends that I'd not seen for ages, and to chat with John Stallard at Warlord about future plans for Cruel Seas, and the forthcoming Black Seas age of sail game. I'd love to say more but alas an NDA prevents.....

I tried to get along to the bloggers meetup but alas it occured mid game and so I missed the chance, again (I've failed every year so far!)

I also got a bit of shopping done, some 10mm Vietnam figures from Pendraken to replace the rather old figures I currently have, a 28mm steampunk mermaid from West Wind (looks like a giant mermaid will be making an appearance in future Stingray games), some 1/300 early S Boats from Heroics and Ros for small scale "Narrow Seas" games, and some of the nicer mugs from recent Salutes to bolster my collection.

So, a fun day out, much enjoyment had and lots of happy gamers who enjoyed finding out what could happen in the next half hour :)

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Denmark Strait

One of the things that I have had in mind to try sometime is to fight a particular battle with different rules and to compare results, having seen the Society of Ancients do something similar over the years. It would seem to be an interesting group project, so I suggested this on the Facebook "Naval Wargames" group, but since there are many who don't use Mr Zuckerberg's site I thought I'd repeat it here.

The idea is to refight the 1941 battle of Denmark Strait, ideally around May 24th this year, play out the battle and then for as many people as possible to compare notes. Nothing to stressy, just play out the battle with your local chums, then post a brief AAR to the FB group, on your blog or to me listing the rules used and the result of the game. A few people on the FB group asked about a common scenario so I'm working up a simple one page sheet that has the "core" starting points for an action commencing at 0552 on May 24th, and which lists various possible options (such as including the Suffolk and Norfolk in the action, optional rules for defective shells and turrets, etc.). I'll plan to post that here once I've had a chance to work it up properly.

Is anyone interested? For starters I'll be doing it with "Find, Fix and Strike", and I might try GQ2 as well.

Of course this is just a precursor to INWarD 2019, taking place in August :)