Sunday 29 November 2015

Battleground : the lead Haul

Had a great time at Battleground yesterday, I think this is my third show of the year so I am not quite a junkie. It is only a medium sized show but plenty going on and good parking. I had a list but it wouldn't be fun if I was too strict and with 4 weeks to Christmas a couple of things will be put under the tree. Some really nice games on show although as the show is only 10 to 3 it didn't look to me like many were going to finish, chatted to a lot of people and hopefully made some new friends.

Lots of stuff here which given time will appear on the blog. Quite a bit for VBCW including some Firemen from Ironclad, and some artillery. Warbases took quite a bit of my money and they were very nice giving me the pre-order deal even though I hadn't pre-ordered. Always worth asking ...... From the bring and buy I picked up some Front Rank Medieval knights to build a later medieval lion rampant retinue, some greek archers (Essex Minatures) from Colonel Bills who also purchased from me unwanted (only due to scale) Greeks and persians. A grand day out as they say......

Thursday 26 November 2015

Going for a paddle : Muskets and Tomahawks

Postman brought me a gift the other day !

I wasn't really planning on buying these, but I had a very small and bizarre windfall and I have been listening to an excellent history of the FIW. Also working on some French infantry but hopefully more of them soon.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Operation Blau : Battle for Volovo :June 1942

We managed to play the first of our Voronezh campaign battles over the weekend.

Hermann Balck's 11th Panzer Division close to the town of Volovo is about to be squeezed between the 1st and 16th Soviet Tank Corps. Historically although the Russians had significant numerical superiority they were surprised by the recently improved German tanks including PzIIIJ's and PzIVF2's. The terrain was particularly well suited to long range tank combat and the Germans made the most of it picking off the Russian T34's at long range. According to the fairly limited information I have on the battle the German Panzers were supported 88mm Flak guns attached to Max Roth's 15 Panzer regiment.

We are using Blitzkrieg commander again as our rule set and using basic scenarios from the rule book as our basis, we played this as a "basic attack" by the Russians giving them 50% more troops than the Germans. To give some historical feel the terrain is very flat and open giving wide open fields of view and long ranges. The Germans have improved tanks but due to the extra points they are heavily outnumbered. The Russians were poorly co-ordinated so have a low command leadership. The Germans have a battalion of strong 88mm Flak guns (sadly due to work pressures I was unable to get the proper models painted in time so we had to substitute smaller anti-tank guns). The Russians are allowed to bring one of their three tank brigades on from the northern flank, representing the 1st Tank Corps under Katukov. The other two tank brigades 16th Tank Corp would enter from the East.

Overview of the wide and flat battlefield Volovo on the right
With BC you have to roll against your leadership to activate units but early on the Russians were still able to make a deep flank attack with the 1st Tank Corps and they aimed a strong tank brigade straight towards the small hamlet on the German left flank.
15 Panzer Regiment dug in with supporting 88mm Flak Guns
As soon as the 16th Tank Corps hits the open they come under heavy fire
To counter the flank attack the Germans move into the hamlet (built up area) and dig any tanks to slow to get under cover soon fell victim to Russian T34's.

German left flank digs in !
In the centre the two tank brigades heading directly across the table soon realised that they were out gunned by the 88's and the Panzers under cover in the small corm field. This forced the Russian to push right and try and advance to the north of the main road.

Tough fighting around the hamlet

German casualties are mounting up

Russian advance using the hedged field as cover
Both sides were now starting to take significant casualties. The problem being for the Germans that a break test would be required when only 7 units had been taken out.

German left flank becoming more exposed

Panzers start to move to re-enforce the left flank
By this stage of hte battle it was clear it was going to be a very close finish both sides were close to breaking and the battlefield is littered with burning tanks.

Wrecked tanks right across the battlefield
At this point close to turn 8 the official end the Germans had lost nearly all their armour on the left flank and reached their breakpoint, luckily they passed the test and had one more turn to inflict damage on the Soviets, they too hit their breakpoint but also passed.

the End ! Soviet withdraw ?
As we had reached the end of turn 8 we declared a close, night fall saw the remaining Russian Tanks withdraw under darkness, they had inflicted considerable damage on the Germans but had failed to take the objective.

A great first battle in the mini campaign close but hard for both sides and could easily have gone either way. The 88's were really powerful and the extra range was decisive. The battle was surprisingly close to the historical outcome. The Russian throwing everything in but were unable to make their superior numbers count.

Friday 20 November 2015

Called to the Cross : Crusader Infantry

Change is as good as a rest so I have been working on some Crusaders, these are basic infantry who I can add to my Normans to give a slightly later feel to a crusader army. I picked them up ages ago for a couple of quid at a show. Can't remember the make.

I have kept some consistency in the colours. They will probably find themselves in Lion Rampant as well. I just need to bite the bullet and get on with the Moors now.

Monday 16 November 2015

Operation Blau : Battle for Voronezh June 1942

For our next foray onto the Eastern Front we are moving to June 1942. Hilter had ordered the summer offensive to destroy as much of the Soviet forces in the south as possible but his principle goal was to secure the Oilfields in the Caucasus. As part of the first phase of this the 4th Panzerarmee under General Hermann Hoth was tasked with pushing through the Soviet defenses and taking Voronezh on the River Don.

Campaign map for the Battle for Voronezh
One of the attractions of this part of Operation Blau is that a series of tank on tank battles took place with various German Panzer Divisions involved including the 11th, 9th and  24th. The Soviets threw increasingly large numbers of Tank Corps in to combat to delay and counterattack the Panzers as they broke through. Ultimately the Panzers forced their way through on their way to Stalingrad. little did they know.

We are going to fight three battles which all took place on or very close to the 29th June 1942, as shown on the campaign map above. We'll be using Blitzkrieg Commander and my 6mm collection.

The details for the campaign and the map are from Robert Forczyk's excellent book Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front 1941-1942. Our first battle will see the Katukov's 1st Tank Corps and the 16th Tank Corps under Pavelkin attacking the 11th Panzers who will be dug into a defensive position.

Hope to play it soon when work and other commitments allow.

Sunday 15 November 2015

Invading Scotland : inspiration

Has been a bad weekend for hobby stuff, rain makes me busy at work and we had a lot of rain ! But escaped this afternoon and carried out a lighting raid into Scotland (literally). My daughter wanted to go to Gretna shopping, I had no hopes at all of finding anything interesting other than chocolate.......but in the works (discount book shop) I found this !

Just goes to prove you should never give up. Not a book I was aware of or seen anywhere else, it is a detailed outline of the preparations in Scotland in 1940/41 for potential invasion. When I say detailed it has cross sections of all the variations of pill boxes, pictures of tank traps and loads of other stuff.

This fits brilliantlywith my Operation Sealion plans, both for background, pictures and a whole new idea around Germany invading Scotland.....and I just happen to have some Scott's infantry to paint for VBCW.

So a great buy and yes reduced to a mere £6.

Thursday 12 November 2015

Spartans !

Decided it was time for a change on the painting front so something different I have been working on some Spartans. These are old foundry figures picked up from a show in quite a big bag.....there are some more but not sorted them out yet.

Picture is not great but they are all armoured so I plan to field these as Elite Hoplites or the King's Bodyguard. Here they are with my other Spartan infantry.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Messerschmitts over Odessa : 6mm Air Combat

It has been some time since I have played with my WWII aircraft collection. This is focused very much on the Eastern Front and over the years we have played a range of scenarios reflecting the air battles between the Luftwaffe and the VVS during Barbarossa.

There is masses of literature on the air combats that took place (check out amazon for books by Christer Bergstrom) and there are limitless options for varied scenarios from dogfights, bombing missions through to recon.

My planes are mainly Heroics and Ros 6mm and the rules I use are a slightly adapted version of Aeronautica Imperialis a 40k air combat game. It is simple to pick up and seems to give fun games nearly every time.

Our latest scenario was set in August 1941, while the battle for Kiev raged in the North a parallel battle was taking place for the Black Sea port of Odessa. A single Soviet Fighter Regiment  69 IAP who were later re-enforced were able to hold back the often better equipped Rumanian and German airforces.

In our scenario the Luftwaffe have sent a Rotte of Ju88's to bomb coastal defences around Odessa they are supported by Bf109's of JG77 under Major Anton Mader, and have with them a renowned German Pilot Rudolf Schmidt (Ace pilots have an obvious advantage during combats) To defend the port are a mixed collection of Soviet fighters including I-16's, Yak -1's and La5's (I had to cheat here as I didn't have enough Yaks)
Ju88's supported by Bf109's approach the port
The Ju88's are carrying a fairly limited supply of bombs so they need to get in and get out again with no guarantee of success. Two soviet MTB's can be seen leaving the port, they are armed with anti-aircraft guns so any planes going too close at low altitudes run the risk of being shot down. The two targets are gun emplacements on the two headlands and they can also fire at German planes.

Soviet planes entering from the right
As soon as the Soviet aircraft come into sight the Bf109's peal off to intercept.

Soviet I-16's in closeup 
Although they are very small I do find the aircraft very rewarding/fun to collect, paint and play with (we also find it hard not to make the appropriate noises when a particular plane dives into combat or lets rip with its guns dakka dakka dakka!)
Rudolf Schmidt heads towards the Russian fighters
Uh Oh one of the Bf109's is down ! luckily not Schmidt
Although battles invariably start slowly once the planes are in range it becomes quite chaotic and very dynamic, unfortunately for the Soviets they lost the two Yak's very early on, this was pretty much a fluke for the Germans but meant they had a real advantage.
Both Yak-1's have crashed onto the headland whilst the I-16's attack the Ju88
Although the I-16 's were a very old and outdated design compared to the modern Bf109 fighters they often held their own due to their manoeuverablility and greater numbers.
The I-16 and Bf109 are highly manoeuverable planes
But they are more vulnerable than some of the other planes. The Ju88's carry gunners both front and back so are not that easy to attack, ideally come in from the side.
Ju88 approaches the first target close to the downed Yak's
Ju88's attack the second target
As aircraft are swarming all over the place it is hard to tell the whole story. The first Ju88 was unsuccessful and was shot down by a combination of air and ground attack fire. The second bomber took its revenge knocking out the gun emplacement but was then seriously damaged. The Third bomber managed to hit the second target but was also damaged and can be seen limping away in the picture below.
Rudolf Schmidt adds to his tally of enemy planes shot down
By now the Soviets were pretty much down to their last couple of planes but he Germans were also running low on ammo. The remaining Ju88 needed to escape and climbed in altitude to avoid the unnecessary risk of fire from the MTB.
three to one not good odds !
The Soviets had one final chance with their remaining I-16 it needed one more hit on the German bomber to bring it down, but he knew to take the shot would almost certainly mean death with the three remaining Bf109's able to predict his attack run and get in ideal positions. There was really only one option to go for it as a true Hero of the Soviet Union. But the the German pilots were just too good.
dakka dakka dakka oh no Comrade Stevio is shot down
As it turned out despite the early setback of losing both Yak's the Soviets had made a spirited defence. Yes they were all dead or swimming back to the Crimea bu they had nearly taken down all three bombers the Messerschmitts would be more wary next time.

Happy to give more details of the rules if anybody interested.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Ogres vs Abyssal Dwarves : Kings of War

Having played a few games of KoW with Empire Troops and generally liking the feel of the game we thought we would try something different so I swopped my 'men' for Ogres. Luckily (I assume this is deliberate) KoW is built around the same unit sizes as WHFB. So I could field 1600 points with only limited juggling of my Ogre Army.

We rolled up a capture the objectives scenario from the KoW rule book and set to, the game plays fairly fast so i never seem to get many photos. Needless to say i charged across the battlefield with pretty much everything I had. You are allowed to have pretty much any of the troop types from WHFB so i was even able to field my Leadbelchers although they are called something else. Boomers I think....they were slightly less effective but the Abyssal Dwarves weren't to know that.
Ogres charging across the battlefield
Most disappointing was my left flank where the massive mammoth/monster found itself being charged by abyssal half breed thingies who wiped it out in one turn.With my right flank doing better it mean't the battle field turned around the central point.

Crunch !
Not much can stand against this many Ogres ! can it  ?
The find of the battle were the 'heavy' Ogres who get additional attacks, these proved really powerful taking out the stone golem creatures and several other strong units as well. In the end it was pretty much a draw when we added up the points and added bonuses for objectives.

Another fun game, and I have now ordered the rulebook so we can play a bigger battle to see how it works scaled up a bit.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Fantasy SAGA : Chaos and Dwarves

Still slightly behind on blogs.........over the years I have collected quite a lot of Fantasy armies which have mainly been played using WHFB, I still love the system but even with a good knowledge of the rules they are complex and we still find ourselves looking stuff up all the time. KoW has been a refreshing change and we are planning to try a larger battle and some more of this soon. we've played lion rampant with fantasy figures and with the impending release of Dragon Rampant it seems likely we'll have ago at that as well.

But Paul over on the Hobby Horse found some Saga fantasy rules  we've played quite a lot of Saga so have the basics pretty sorted. We set up a 10 point battle which is fairly large to start with but it ran pretty smoothly. Chaos vs Dwarves....combat thugs vs shooty lads with short legs !

As a straight up fight it was obvious the chaos forces needed to get into combat as quickly as possible their board and special abilities all being around getting stuck in, the battle turn into a battle of two halves with the shooty bit of the dwarves being able to wipe out he chaos troops fairly easily before they got across the table in any strength. But at the other side of the battlefield where they went toe to toe, Chaos had the advantage.

The boards are quite complex and not for Saga novices but i quite liked them (does make we want to get my C&C troops sorted out) they stats etc for creatures, monsters seemed on this first try to work pretty well, but you do need to remember monsters are not as strong as in some other systems. We enjoyed it and will being playing again.

Battle lines set shooty dwarves already thinning out chaos on the right
Heavy weight charge on the other flank
Add caption

The giant took a particular dislike to the dwarf lord, his retainers can
only watch as he becomes increasingly exhausted
Eventually with his retainers all slain the Dwarf lord had nowhere to hide

Thursday 5 November 2015

Temple of the Golden Buddha : IHMN

Some time before Comrade Smirnov was forced to leave mother Russia to the north of England smuggled in a crate of Russian white fish. He had worked as a secret agent for the Okrana. Back home he had run his own Company of adventuring agents carrying out mission on behalf of the state and sometimes for profit.

His Company consists of Himself an excellent sniper, Dr Z, Babooshka, Princess Natasha, his cousin Vlasov the sailor and a number of other agents.

This particular adventure sees the Okrana Company searching for treasure somewhere in the back of beyond with Colonel Cavendish and his Company of Cumberland Soldiers.

(This was actually an opportunity to introduce a new player to IHMN so we arranged a simple scenario and I didn't take that many photos, I apologize now no bubbles, but i am sure we will be back in the Golden Temple sometime)

The Golden Buddha somewhere in the East
 In the scenarios we had 6 possible locations but only three of them with designated treasure.

The Border Reg spread out and start searching
Smirnov and his Company enter the temple close to the famous
Golden Buddha

Dr Z and Vlasov
Sgt Bourne making off with a very large Ruby !
 As usual we played with many of the barrels located around the temple being explosive, one can be seen here going off in the distance knocking a number of adventurers to the floor.
Babooshka rushes through the door only to be gunned down
Sgt Maxwell and the Steam Robot fight off one of the nameless
Okrana agents
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 At this stage it was clear the Russian secret agents had had their day as the Border regiment made off with the majority of the Temples' treasure. So we had time for another scenario. With a more basic combat between the two sides. The Okrana proved a slightly tougher nut this time with the deadly Smirnov once again living up to his reputation, repeatedly picking out the enemy in combats.

The Okrana take the fight straight to the soldiers
Many of the Border's blown down again.
Another 2 !
It was actually quite a close fight but eventually the Border Regiment only had the steam private left, luckily he has a very low pluck and is unlikely to fail.......unless of course you just keep rolling 2's. Perhaps not our most serious scenario but fun to play and lots of laughs.