Thursday 31 December 2015

2015 In Review

And so another year comes to an end. And with it the obligatory review of "the plan". I wonder how I did this time?

1) Project X - I will get phase 2 sorted out by the Summer.

"Phase 2" was to get my medieval naval rules done, dusted and published. This happened at the beginning of August so that's a "yes". I also managed to get a few scenarios written up and published as freebies, so I'm claiming 100% for this one. A good start :)

2) Engage! - I'll renovate my FASA Star Trek fleets, sort out the various unpainted ships that I have to hand and will put together stat sheets for all the models.

The BV crowd liked these rules so had a big push on this in January. Stat sheets for most of the ships in the FASA fleet books are done, but I naver managed to get started on the model renovation, nor the stat sheets for the non-FASA ships in my Star Trek collection. So this is a work in progress, but there has been considerable progress so far and I did manage to scratch build something "interesting" for a scenario (all a bit hush-hush, details when the game has been played next year). 75% on this.

3) FLoB - Yes, get those fleets renovated like I was supposed to do last year, and expand the 1/450 fleets for the Adriatic campaign (which means a few galleys needed)

Failed completely. I really do need to crack on with these flippin' galleys!

4) Burma Skirmish - I've been picking up odd bits and pieces for this for some time. 20mm "retro" gaming, going back to my wargaming roots in the 1970s and 80s. I'll put together at least a platoon's worth of troops for each side (and possibly some US as well, especially if I can track down a 20mm LVT(A) somewhere)and get some games in. "Operation Warboard" likely to be the rules in use to complete the whole retro thing :)

Slow progress - my Japanese troops were painted up early in the year and just need basing, my Aussies and Gurkhas stalled. I found some nice LVT(A)1s at a show in February for a very reasonable price, and some decent 1/72 Matildas that will support my Aussies, but still not able to get  a game in.

5) Mad Max - Inspired by the new film coming out later this year I've always had a hankering to do some sort of "road warrior" gaming. I have an idea about some rules, and there are so many handy Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars that I think will be ideal for kitbashing.

Lots of fun models made for this now. Still no rules.

6) BASF - Bolt Action Sci Fi. We've tried this a few times at BV. I have a pile of stuff to sort out for this. Fun to do.

Mostly done, although the small pile of androids and other bits & pieces I had to do in the Summer remain undone. Overall though, decent progress.

Part of the reason why things slowed down a lot in the second half of the year was that my wargaming room has relocated to my "log cabin". It is a far better setup than the "half a dining room" I had before, although its bl**dy freezing out there in the winter unless I stick the heater on. The main problem though is that I haven't managed to sort out my painting desk; a new table is required and some better lighting so that I can see what I'm doing. So "the table" will be a key element of the 2016 plan. 

Other than that there were the usual diversions, including:

Thunder Boats - Dave Schueler's hydroplane racing game which I now have set up and ready to run.

Stingray - went from a stalled project from 5 years ago to an award winning participation game in just  a few months. I was really, really pleased at how this turned out

Pre Dreadnought Naval - kicked off by thoughts of my end-of-year game, I managed to sort out some of my existing fleets and ID'd a pile of fleets to do. I expect these, especially the Chinese, will be part of the 2016 plan as well.

There were other reasons why 2015 went a bit off the rails. Some readers will know the reasons why, not for discussion here really, but for those that have helped us through the tough bits so far, many thanks. 

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Russo Japanese

I decided to end my wargaming year with an inaugural "big" naval game in the log cabin with some of my old NWS chums. Tim,. Peter and Stuart came over yesterday to try out my Russo Japanese mini campaign and a modified set of the old "DBN" rules that were published in Wargames Illustrated many, many years ago. The first challenge was finding my 1/3000 pre-dreadnought collection - I recall having all the ships for the campaign down to protected cruisers, but some seem to have gone AWOL over the years so some French proxies were brought in to fight on each side and a few ships had to "double up" for sisters.

I never expected to get all that many turns in - we didn't start until nearly eleven and ENDEX was at 1600 (plus we had a very nice pub lunch at the George over the river which took up quite a bit of time). In the end we managed two (out of a maximum of 40!)

In turn 1 the Japanese surprise attack on Port Arthur was detected before it went in and the Japanese decided to withdraw. The Russians decided from the outset to go for an aggressive strategy which saw the entire Port Arthur fleet sail to contest sea control in the Tsushima Straits (a few protected cruisers stayed behind to shell Japanese troops at some of the minor ports in Korea). The Russian move coincided with the first large Japanese troop convoy sailing from Sasabo, which was given a very heavy escort (the entire Japanese battleship and armoured cruiser force, plus a number of protected cruisers).  Ineviatbly the two forces clashed and Tsushima happened early, although in this case it was the Japanese who came of worse, losing four battleships to two Russian losses. The cruiser fleets of both sides were savaged and the Russians lost a number of destroyers. However the convoy escaped and returned to Sasebo.

Outset of the February 1904 Battle of Tsushima, as seen from the Japanese side. The armoured cruisers are deploying to the east, the battleships to the west. In the end the battle effectively split into two separate actions as each sides battleships and cruisers headed away from each other and squared up against their opposite numbers. 

Turn 2 saw another attempt by the Japanese to get their troops to Korea. This time they assembled just about any warship that could float and sent them along as escort. They encountered a patrolling force comprising their three undamaged battleships (ships hit in actions are required to remain in port for repairs on at least the following campaign turn) and a handful of cruisers and destroyers. The Russians, clearly intoxicated by their earlier victory, steamed in to the attack, but numbers tell and the battleships succumbed to a hail of gunfire from the Japanese armoured cruisers and a skillfully delivered series of torpedo attacks. All three Russian battleships were sunk, he surviving lighter ships making a swift escape to Port Arthur. The Russian commander later cursed his aggressive approach and agreed that letting the convoy through, given the size of he escort, would have been prudent

In little more than a month of "real time" both sides were fought practically to a standstill as far as major warships were concerned, the Russians reduced to three operational battleships, the Japanese to two. The rest of the war, had we played on, would have been much more subdued as the players realised the need to play the "long game", the benefits of basing out of multiple ports, covering their strategic objectives and gaining a better understanding as to how the area movement and sea control system would help them.

The rules themselves worked fine, as always the post-action discussion revealed a few areas where clarifications were needed and where rule tweaks would help, and so a revision was duly typed up in the small hours. But what we did establish was that the campaign and tactical rules did provide for a fun and relatively fast campaign system, easily adaptable to other pre-dreadnought theatres of operation, and well suited to a weekend or an occasional evening campaign.

Friday 25 December 2015


As some readers may know our place is a bit of a menagerie. Well, our six cats and seven horses have been joined by three new residents that Santa left for me last night. Introducing Nico, Pendragon and Alastair, the Alpaca trio :)

I hope all my readers had a lovely Christmas and have been blessed with wonderful and unusual presents as well.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Circus Maximus

As 2015 draws to a close the Berkeley Vale club has embarked upon another new project, Roman chariot racing. Steve brought along a decent set of card driven rules that he found on the internet and adapted them to his existing "Circus Maximus" table cloth. Add a selection of 28mm chariots and seven insane drivers and the stage was set for a fun evening. Three laps later and we had four crashes, Shaun killed as he was dragged behind his bolting team, Steve run over and killed by Andy as he swept to victory and three more crashes on the last lap.

In the end only three chariots made it intact to the finish line. Andy won a well deserved victory, I came in second and New Dave was third.

Great fun and we will be starting a league in the new year. I'd love to put together a chariot team of my own using Steve Barber's models (I'd like to include the dragged driver and "pedestrian" figures) but they seem to be unavailable. Anyone who could help in tracking down a set please get in touch!