Saturday 27 June 2015

World War Three !

Now I am definitely not looking to start a new project at the moment....but you know when you see something and you think well if I don't get it now then I'll regret it. Whilst scouting the second hand shops in Carlisle I came across these two books.

Have only had the briefest scan but the first is a kind of technical guide to the potential and the second a more what if and how type book. Masses of details and both written in the seventies so feel quite 'real' when we really did have a Cold War !

Friday 26 June 2015

Pre-war vehicles

Last weekend saw a trip down south for a family wedding, stumbled across a boot fair in the morning and picked up a couple of vehicles for 'pre-war' games. They were only a couple of quid so a reasonable bargin. Scale is really tricky these are actually slightly large and are quoted on the internet at 1:43 scale ! But I'm not convinced they are that big......

So a couple of evenings later and a bit of trial and error on the painting and I have a couple of transport vehicles for VBCW or some background vehicles or terrain for operation Sealion. I have seen plenty of pictures of 1938/1939 with these types of vehicles in them. I have left them unmarked deliberately so they can be flexible. 

I have ordered a couple more off eBay which I think I will paint up in a more military style.

Thursday 25 June 2015

Muskets and Tomahawks

One of my favourite gaming systems which hasn't been out for a while is Muskets and Tomahawks. Created by the same people who developed SAGA but a completely different game play. As it happens one of my favourite films is also Last of the Mohicans. M&T is very much a game based around scenarios with different objectives for both sides and narrative side plots and random events. Anyway the weekend saw a chance to get a game on the table.

Picture a small colonial settlement somewhere in the forests of North America. The local colonists have already been attacked by small sporadic raids from local native tribes. The Colonial Governor has sent troops and two companies of Rangers to the settlement to scout the nearby woods. Little do they know that a full Huron war party is heading their way intent on slaughter.

In this scenario the British Rangers and Regular infantry are supported by a small group of Mohawk scouts. Their objective is to scout all four quarters of the battlefield and return safely. They also need to protect the villagers who are hiding in amongst the buildings and Church.

Rangers head into the woods
 The British supported by their Mohawk scouts set of into the woods whilst the villagers pretty much hide behind the buildings. The British infantry formed up can be seen advancing slowly from the church. (I use the little cotton wool bits to mark figures which have shot and need to reload)
French speaking Canadian trouble makers allied with the Huron
The native war party are supported by a group of French speaking Canadian trouble makers. The natives have used hidden deployment (I use animal markers for this, one dummy for each two units hidden) and you can see them in the distance looking a bit like wolves and an elk!
Mohawks are sent running by a volley
M&T uses a clever way of spotting the enemy before you can shot at them and a series of random events, in this case it started raining after the first turn which further reduced visibility. The first Huron to reveal themselves immediately fired a volley at the Mohawks sending them running, but they would be back.
Musket fire across the battlefield
 In the distance the second huron group has now revealed itself creeping through the boggy ground to contest the wood closest to the church. The French Canadian trappers are exchanging gun fire with rangers in the central woods. But some of the Huron have not yet been revealed
Rangers give the Native warparty a concentrated volley but it has little
 effect through the trees
All the Huron now revealed the Rangers fire a full volley but the impact is dissipated due to the trees and has no effect. The Braves fire and charge into combat in the woods proving to much for the rangers who flee back past the formed infantry, no doubt receiving some serious verbal abuse from the Redcoats.
Rangers flee past the formed and steady redcoats
 At the other end of the village the Mohawks have rallied and run back to protect the villages by the cabin which they do successfully although one of he villagers is shot down as they try to get away.
Mohawks to the rescue
 Things now looking bad at the church where the larger numbers of Huron have pretty much wiped out he rangers and run into combat the Redcoats a desperate struggle follows and the British commander calls the remaining Mohawks back towards the charch in case the redcoats fail.
In the distance the native braves face up to the last few redcoats
and the allied Mohawks try to get back to the church to support
 But what is this at the last moment another Huron group appear out of nowhere (the turns in M&T are card based and include a number of random events here unlucky for the British we randomly rolled up another Native unit to be placed anywhere at the edge of the table !) we can assume they were hiding earlier in the battle.
But from nowhere another party of Huron appear intent on scalps !
 There is no chance for the villages now who pay the price with their scalps, they do manage to kill one brave but this is too little too late. The Mohawks can be seen now dashing back but even Hawk-eye can't be in two places at once.
Despite attempting to defend themselves one group of the colonial
settlers are hacked down and scalped
At this point we declared a draw. The majority of the raiding party had been killed, but only half the villagers. The British had scouted 3 of the tables quarters.

A really fun game and encouragement for me to get on and paint the rest of the British and French in my lead mountain.

Saturday 20 June 2015

Four Rampant Lions battle it out

If you go back to the start of the year four regular dungeon visitors agreed to collect a Lion Rampant retinue, paint them up and face off against each other. Various combinations of battles have taken place as we learnt the rules but on Sunday we finally got together for the show down. A great effort by all meant we were able to field four fully painted retinues, all of course completely different and spanning much of the medieval period. Interestingly there are figures from most of the popular manufacturers as well.

Anyway I set up a mini round robin tournament, with three simple scenarios and the addition of a hidden boast for each side in every battle (no penalty for failing the boast just extra Glory points for achieving the boast). The only tweek to the rules was we gave each general the commanding rule from the start so nobody was landed with something rubbish for all three battles.

Ranulf de Gernon leads his Normans onto the field
I didn't manage to get photos of all four retinues only Ranulf de Gernon and the Templars, but there are plenty of pictures of the others during the afternoon battles.

The Templars !
With two battles going on at the same time and six battles over the afternoon I can in no way cover all the the pictures will have to tell the story of the afternoon.

Clifford the Butcher with heavily armoured foot troops
The first two battles saw Clifford up against the Templars with both side trying to get across the table with as many units as possible.

Clifford leading from the front
At the other end of the battlefield Ranulf de Gernon has to attempt to stop the Italians from getting across the table from corner to corner.

The Italians seem reluctant to come out and fight attempting to scare
the Normans with arrow fire.

The Normans are less cautious and immediately look to pin the Italians
back in their own corner

The Italians are fighting with several mixed units flexibility vs strength ?
After a lot of 'to and fro' the Normans got the better of it, eventually killing over half the Italians to claim victory and extra Glory points as well. The Templars and Clifford had wiped each other out ! So on to the second round of battles. Ranulf was back on guard duty looking to hold back the Butcher. (some advantage here for Ranulf with mounted troops)

Armoured Norman Knights charging down the hill !
At the other end the Italians and the Templars are fighting a Bloodbath scenario.

Italians back in the corn field

Templars looking for more Italians to charge down

The Butcher pushing forward his archers as a screen, but armoured
Normans have made it into the woods
Always hard to tell what people are thinking

Norman crossbows win over Cliffords Archers
The Norman crossbows proved too powerful and accurate for Clifford, who valiantly fell in battle attempting to get across the table. At the other end the Templars enjoyed squashing the Italians. So on to our third and final battles.

The Templars turn to charge impressively over the hill.
In the final battle Ranulf had to attempt to escape across the table, this was going to be tough as the Templars have two mounted units.

Ranulf brings on his whole retinue in the corner but he has to get at least half
of them to the far corner !

Lovely colourful Italians with apparently captured French banners ?

Ranulf calls out the Templar Lord !
In the final scenario I picked the kill the enemy lord to gain two extra glory points. So it only seemed fair as the host to try and achieve this in a proper duel. Luckily the Templar lord had purchased a blunt sword and some cheap B&M armour !

Templar Knights look on in disbelief as Ranulf hacks their lord to the ground !

The colourful Italians put on a good show.
I didn't manage to get many photos at the far end of the table, but when I went across there didn't seem to be many Italians left, Clifford had lived up to his Butcher nick name and had pretty much slaughtered the lot of them, leaving on the weakest Italian serfs to attempt the impossible.

A great afternoon, with four well painted retinues fighting it out. By dint of some lucky rolling (as always) and successful boasts Ranulf and his retinue took the afternoon and the prize. I feel slightly guilty as my Normans are the least consistent age wise so I think I  need to organise some later medieval figures for the retinue.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Waterloo 200 Celebration

This feels like a special day for me and I guess many other Wargamers around the world. Much has been said about the battle but it is hard to underestimate what it means for so many involved in our hobby. I thought I would recognise the event by posting a couple of photos of why it is important to me.


These were pretty much the first soldiers I bought around 1972 (aged 8) from Woolworths these were bought on the back of Donald Featherstones original War Games Book which I think had been a present for my older brothers. I had played with their soldiers before but these were mine.

Here they are still on the Battlefield 40 + years later a couple of re-paints and new bases, (the Highland Infantry are just top left)

Final shot then walking the battlefield with my son, not my first trip but it was his, we had a great day and we visited most of the famous locations on the battlefield, I had taken with us a number of the famous eye witness accounts and I read them to him at the place where the events took place. Our little piece of living history.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

The Battle for Pervomaysk Bridge : August 1941

Our fifth and final battle in the Uman Kessel campaign has the German 16th Panzers looking to capture the Bug river bridge at Pervomaysk. Although this is mentioned in the Osprey guide and other sources that I have used as a starting point for the campaign I haven't been able to find any other references to a battle at the bridge at all. However, it seems reasonable that to capture the bridge the 16th Panzers would have to push back the final remnants of the Russian 6th and 12th Armies who had escaped the encirclement. (Importantly I have had the bridge for ages and it would make a great final scenario).

Using a Blitzkreig Commander scenario we gave the Germans approximately twice as many points as the Russians. But importantly the Bug River can only be crossed at the Bridge. The Russian leadership is low reflecting the poor overall strategic position. The Town of Pervomaysk straddles the river and the Russians had to start the scenario with at least one formation on the north side of the river.
Germans enter from the North 1 Battlion of Pz heading straight for
 the town the other looking to cover their approach
We also gave the Germans some air cover which adds to the flavour of the battle but proved very ineffective. You might be able to make out the ME109 ground attack plane.
Overview of the battlefield
The Germans took some early casualties before they were able to get out of their vehicles losing at least one infantry unit and one attached anti tank gun.

Better view from the East the last few remaining Russian tanks
 prepare to counter attack any attempt to get across the bridge

View from the South
The first German Pz's made it to the river bank and began engaging unit across the river at long range whilst bringing up heavy anti-tank guns to clear the town. The remaining Russians who have volunteered to stay behind have dug in in the buildings making it almost impossible to get them out with out and infantry assault. I think BC it particularly realistic here where dug in infantry just cant be shot out as they dug further into the rubble.

German Anti-tank unit unlimbers and begins to bombard the town
Add caption
The German panzer grenadiers have dismounted and charged into the town but are repulsed taking quite heavy casualties, eventually heavy fire from the antitank guns eliminates one unit but it is going to be hard to force the infantry out.

Minor success for German tanks at long range

Whilst the infantry tries to force the Town the second Pz Battalion forms
up to rush for the bridge

More air cover but the Russian tank despite being low of fuel can still exchange
fire across the river and get the better of it !

Germans waste time and effort trying to force the town and the
Russian mortar crews on the other side of the river start to pick off units
Eventually the German Tanks rush for the bridge and the Germans bring as much firepower as they can up to support and to clear a way for the tanks to force the bridge.

The lead PzIV's make it across but are pinned down
Infantry dug in on the far side of the bridge meant the Pz's couldn't exit the bridge and as they couldn't assault the infantry in the buildings they had to try and blast them out. Whilst doing this the Russians used up their remaining ammunition opening up with everything in a last ditch attempt to hold the Tanks back.
Road block on the bridge
Whilst the bridge gave the tanks stuck on it good cover they didn't have the space to deploy. At this point we gave a well deserved minor victory to the Russians. They had fought with everything they had rather than running for their lives.

Final position Germans have cleared the North bank but simply can't
get across in any numbers to make a difference.
Another excellent, close fought battle to end the campaign, with all five battles being a close run thing. We have learnt masses running each battle especially around the size of armies we can hope to manage in a single evening and reach a reasonable conclusion. Historically of course the Uman Kessel was a significant victory for the Germans pretty much eliminating the 6th and 12th Armies. With overwhelming air power the Germans mopped up the pocket fairly quickly before spreading out across the Ukraine. We are currently considering where our next encounter with the eastern front will be.........