Sunday 17 May 2020

Just Another Winter's Tale

After the test game recently I was looking at my winter skirmish table and thinking it looked distinctly "flat". I was unsure whether I wanted to go with polystyrene hills and feature on the table, or whether to put them under the cloth like I did in the old days. Anyway, yesterday I set to a pile of old poly packing pieces with my hot wire cutter and after an application of watered down polyfilla, some sprinkled sand, an overall coat of white paint and some relief through a distant application of desert yellow and grey spray paints I had a load of snow covered hills and a few gun/tank emplacements. I also made a set of ruined and damaged walls to provide more cover. In this case they were strips of foamcore, suitably distressed and then glued to some wide "lolly sticks" from Hobbycraft. A thin black wash to bring out the detail of the damage, and then some white flock on the bases to complete. Whilst I was at it I also made a set for my AK47 games, this time a light brown wash and sand on the bases.

The hills, emplacements and walls took no time to make and I think they look quite effective. I've just realised the hills will work fine with my 1/300 "war on the moon" sci fi collection as well. And being made of effectively bits of junk the whole lot cost virtually nothing.

Still not decided on hills on top of or under the cloth though.

Friday 15 May 2020

A Winter's Tale

Last night  tried out my "FireForce" skirmish rules as applied to the Eastern Front, Winter 194x. I was curious to see how this set of 1960/70s African conflict rules, borne out of a set of Vietnam rules, would work in a WW2 setting.

I tried a small scenario, a German infantry platoon supported by a panther and a Stug IV engaging a small Russian force on the outskirts of a village, essentially an infantry squad, HMG, a T34, an M4 Sherman and a 45mm ATG.

The Germans distributed their squads on the left, centre and right, with the Stug supporting the central team and the panther on the right. Early Russian shots from the ATG disabled the central Sdkfz 251, and the Sherman came up to engage and then kill the Stug. The infantry team went to ground and never really moved forwards despite the urgings of their squad leader, instead they fell back into cover to avoid the uncannily god shooting of the Russians to their front and the machine guns in the Sherman. On the right the infantry headed for cover when the HMG opened up on them. The T34 moved out to engage the Panther and scored a hit on the front armour but with no effect. The tanks traded more shots until a solid hit brewed up the T34. The panther then advanced and put a 75mm HE shell into the HMG. The infantry, still shaken from the effects of the HMG, took a while to gather their wits and advance. In the meantime the Panther hit and immobilised the Sherman, then moved ahead to try to outflank it.
The Germans advance. Yellow dice indicate casualties suffered. I may think about some better markers for the future but they'll do for now

The T34 advances and gets a sneaky early shot in at the Panther - missed!

Stug and infantry advancing in the centre

The right hand section head for cover 

T34 brews up, and German LMG fire peppers the HMG

 On the left the German squad doubled across open ground and into cover, their half-track providing covering fire. From the woods they spotted the ATG and a lack of covering troops. The Russians spotted the threat and limbered up the gun, heading to the rear as the Germans doubled across the open ground to occupy the earthworks. From there they assaulted the Russian in the centre; their attention concentrated on the central German squad, they  didn't spot the threat to their flank until too late. In a fierce melee two Russians lay dead, as did a coupe of Germans but the remaining Russians, now heavily outnumbered, fled to the rear. The Germans, now in cover alongside the Sherman, rued the lack of a panzerfaust, but the Panther emerged from cover and killed the Sherman with a shot through the side armour.

The Germans on the left flank charge the ATG position

Oh for a panzerfaust!

Never mind, the Panther got him

It was all over in an hour or so and I thought it went rather well. A few tweaks in terms of leader capabilities, pinned troops and the lack of a vehicle close assault rule (now rectified), but I was very pleased with the results and I'm satisfied that I have a sound basis for a set of rules covering WW2 as well as the post war insurgencies. 

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Rules Conundrum Solved!

Regular readers will know that I've been at loggerheads with myself over which rules to use with my 15mm Winter Skirmish and 20mm Burma Skirmish collections. The answer hit me today when I remembered my old "FireForce" rules that I wrote over 20 years ago. Based on Martin Goddard's "Search and Destroy" Vietnam set, I had adapted them for use in post war African games. Looking at them just now it dawned on me that they would work fine for WW2 with a few tweaks. And that this would be ideal as I can have one core set of rules covering a range of periods and settings.

So I've set up an Eastern Front test game for tomorrow (chores tonight, plus sorting out a play sheet for the game). Fingers crossed it works!

Saturday 9 May 2020

Salamis (1)

This year sees the 2,500th anniversary of the battle of Salamis, where the Greek navies fought off the Persians (actually even more Greeks, Egypt and and Phoenicians) and saved civilisation. There's an interesting project at calling on naval wargamers to refight the battle in September, and I have my new ancient fleet action rules ("He Hemetera Thalassa / Mare Nostrum") coming out soon, so I decided to have a practice bash at Salamis in advance of the big day later this year.

The table I had set up was 6' by 4' but as expected the battle ended up clustered in the "north west" corner (that was OK, I had the rest of the table on which to place stacks of markers and other stuff).

The battlefield as seen from the "east". The three Persian fleets advancing on the Greeks at the top end of the table

The view from Salamis. Themistocles' Greek squadrons on the left flank, Eurybiades' Spartand and others on the right.

As the Persians close, Themistocles adjusts his line, taking the first Greek squadron closer to the mainland shore. A risky move as the shore is lined with Persian archers who can support their ships at sea. There is also a chance that, if control rolls are failed, Themistocles will find himself being hit in the flank before he can redeploy into line.

The Persians continue to close, and the leading Phoenician squadron is very close.....

But the elite Greek seaman come about, form line and charge the incoming Persians. Archery from the leading Persian squadron and their supporting archers on shore cause some casualties on the way in, which will give the Greeks a penalty in the upcoming melee (the yellow "-1" marker shows the die roll modifier that will apply in melee)

Themistocles hits the Persians, sinking ships (one stand loss) and throwing the squadron into confusion (blue "Out of Formation" marker)

The Greeks sweep through the Persian line, the second athenian squadron in place to support. On the right the Spartans hit Ariabignes' Ionian squadron.

Confusion reigns on the left flank. The second Athenian squadron blows through the remnants of the first Phoenician squadron and sweeps around to make a second attack from the rear (which rapidly destroyed them). Meanwhile Themistocles hits the second Phoenician squadron. In a shock attack the Phoenicians are shattered. But disaster on the right as Megabazus' Cypriot squadron catches the second Athenian squadron in the rear. A spirited attack sees the Athenian squadron break. And Teh Ionians have scored a spectacular success, routing the Argolid and Corinthian squadrons that were supporting the Spartan (who are rampaging through the following Persian squadrons, oblivious to the losses behind them).
Themistocles has shattered the third Phoenician squadronvand is set to for a grand finale against Prexaspes, but the Cyprus squadron is poised to make an attack on the Athenian rear. The Spartans and Carians face off, a battle that the Carians would lose. Artemesia's ships are the sole survivors (but make a quiet escape as the morale of the rest of the squadron evaporates).

Megabazus hits the Athenians, but his attack is badly timed; Themistocles rallies his ships and strikes a heavy blow against the attackers who, despite their advantage, take heavy losses and quit the battle. In the melee Megabazus takes an Athenian spear to the chest and dies on the deck of his flagship.

At this point the Greeks have achieved their victory conditions. Despite losing four of their own squadrons (including one of the elite Athenian squadrons), the Athenian and Spartan squadrons commanded by Themistocles and Eurybiadas have destroyed five Persian squadrons. Prexaspes signals the retreat and begins to think about how he is going to explain this to Xerses. He needs to think quickly, Artemesia is already on her way to the great king's tent to tell him her view of the battle.....

It is likely that your chronicler's memory on a few points is confused, and my plan to take photos at each stage of the battle went awry very close to the start, but the above paints the picture. The battle took about 2 hours to complete and I was quite pleased both with the game and with the models - this was my first outing for the 3D printed 1/2400 stands that I've been making over the last few weeks. 

Lookig forward to some more trireme action soon, and of course at least another Slamis refight on or around September 25th..... 

Friday 1 May 2020

Snoopy in Spaaaace!

Inspired by Trevor Dow's model that appeared on Facebook recently, and in the same light hearted vein as my "frakkin' toaster' models from last year, here;s the great WW1 flying ace in space.

Oh the joys of Thingiverse and a 3D printer :)