Friday, 30 January 2015

Heads up!

Some news in briefs

Just a few things coming to light....

1. A Spoiled Victory

This solo game of the Dunkirk battle and evacuation by White Dog Games is currently available for free! This is official. A new spiffy version will be out later in the year.

2. Perfect Captain Napoleonics

The Captain is a genius and produces some great rules. The latest news is that:

Well, we're into the French Revolutionary Wars in a big way, with some 10mm Austrians, French, some Russians and some North German troops. We want to make integrated systems whereby searching the rules will be a thing of the past; every system will be such that all modifiers are "built-in", so you won't even need a quick reference sheet to plod through them. The is ONE root system for almost all die rolls. Every army will act differently, so you'll know you're playing Austrians rather than the French with less positive modifiers....

We also agreed to make things as simple and fast-play as we could. We want a historical result without a lot of sitting around and fiddling- you'll always be moving and fighting and watching your well-organized plan going to pieces. The counter-mix will be almost zero.

A campaign system will be so connected that it is as if it is going on at the same time as the tabletop game.
Interesting and even more interesting.

3. BBA, not as big as first thought!

I have received a very helpful comment from Chris about smaller scenarios for BBA.
Just an FYI re BBB (as the author): in response to popular demand, in recent months I have created a number of smaller 'starter scenarios', with just a few units and simple(r) terrain, on a 4'x4' table. These are intended primarily to help new players learn the rules before they play a Big Battle, but of course are also suitable for when time and space etc are more limited.

These smaller scenarios include:
Montebello 1859
Langensalza 1866 (you can find a couple of players' photoreports on the web)
Spicheren 1870
and there is also a nice Latin American one, Tacna 1879.

All of these are in the BBB Yahoo group files:
and some are also on Flickr:
Well worthwhile checking out.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Something for the weekend Sir?

A painting experiment!

In keeping with this week's WSS theme I'm getting on with a long delayed job of putting together some more Baccus 6mm troops for the new hex grid game. These have been sitting around for years. The good thing is that my chosen scale (24 infantry, 15 cavalry per unit) fits with the pack sizes from Baccus. Mine are just based in a single rank on three 40mm bases instead of two deep on one 60mm for Polemos. 

The next two regiments in the nude!
I'm starting off with two additional foot regiments. I'm not jumping in at the deep end with more because I need to decide not only what team they will play for but also how I'm going to paint them. I have been building up a Bavarian army (no surprise there!) but have yet to decide on their opponents.

However, I am vaguely unsatisfied with my normal painting style. A traditional back undercoat, acrylic block painting and a gloss or satin top coat. This produces a serviceable and attractive figure (without loads of effort) but quite dark. Not helped so far by my choice of a dark green base colour, but that an easily be changed.

So, I have been mulling over alternative painting approaches and decided on an experiment:

  • The first regiment will be spray undercoated with white acrylic, washed with black then block painted and finished in the usual way.
  • Regiment two will be sprayed with Chaos Black in the normal way but will be dry brushed white before blocking and sealing.
I do not regard myself as a good painter, far from it, but I think I can deliver a  reasonable job. I'm most proud recently of some old H&R 6mm chaps for a Jacobite rebellion game (more on this anon). Limited vegetables on the bases and not varnished (for some reason). Very proud of the hand painted flags tho!

The photographer could do better!
So, this experiment will decide the method to be used to complete my Baccus armies for the WSS hex grid game. I have everything I need to get this on the table, including metal, paint and commitment! I also intend to try out some different colours for the bases and see what takes my fancy.

Monday, 26 January 2015

You say Dybbol and I say Duppel

Lets call the whole thing off!

I wonder if Fred Astaire ever went to Schleswig-Holstein and what his chosen pronunciation would be? The reason I mention this is that, following my post the other day in which I mentioned Chris Pringle's BBB rules, I have had another look at the scenarios that go with it. The Yahoo BBB site has plenty of these including the battle of Dybbol from 1864. An epoch shaping battle for the Danes.

From an interesting Danish website
My main problem is that I have very little space, too many children and not enough time. BBB looks great but would be just too large. However, there is a solution to this by using a Command and Colours variant. My attention has been drawn to Pete Belli's wide range of variants for Battle Cry, CCN and M44 on the Boardgame Geek.

I have a weakness for both Command and Colours and also the use of miniatures. Pete's work is just great. Here is a picture of his Dybbol scenario played on a Battle Cry board.

I have always viewed the Commands and Colours games as kits that, pretty much, can represent any battle or campaign at any scale. Pete Belli's many adventures go to prove that. Its also a great excuse for not painting up lots of plastic soldiers!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Not the battle of the magazines...again

More inspiration than I can shake a stick at

I haven't posted any thoughts on wargames magazines recently, largely because they have been very uninteresting. I do take the usual suspects and find that Wargames Soldiers and Strategy is generally not only the best produced (with the shiniest, thickest paper) but also the most informative. That, of course, depends on their chosen theme for the issue. Wargames Illustrated is only occasionally interesting and, unfortunately, Miniature Wargames is a bit variable.

This month, things have picked up a bit with new and interesting things to ponder.

The Foreign Correspondent, for example, has the following interesting bits:
  • Balloon to Balloon combat in 1870.
  • A review of Chris Pringle's Bloody Big Battles.
  • Wurttembergers (hurrah!) in the Siege of Paris.
  • The Battle of Schleswig, 1848.
The Battle of Schleswig is unfortunately feeding my growing interest in the Danish wars of the C19th which also reinforces my interest in the Baltic. On the other hand, I think I'm going to save some money by not investing in BBB. I don't say this in a critical way. The review of the rules is excellent and gives a really good insight. Think Fire and Fury with 1,000 man bases. It is simply that the intended types of scenario are far too big for me to handle with the time and space at my disposal. I suppose that I should have realised that Bloody Big Battles was actually about Bloody Big Battles! Having said that, the scenarios would be of great interest. Time to resub to the FC!

In looking at magazines, I'm really looking for inspiration. Miniature Wargames this month (February 2015) does provide some of that.
  • An 1809 campaign games with a very useful map and OB!
  • An article on Rapid Fire at 21 years old.
  • A big selection of reviews.
Its the reviews that have caught my eye in particular as they are wide ranging and cover some interesting stuff:
  • Battle on the Lomba, a book about the SADF in Angola (AK47 old style!).
  • GMT's Glory's End/When Eagles Fight games. I have the magazine edition of When Eagles Fight and I have been very tempted to get in on the table during my Tannenberg researches.
  • Class Wargames, a book about left wing wargames of the C20th including Guy Debord's game of war. I find the latter extremely interesting as I have a copy of the game (with cardboard counters) on my bookshelf. This has gone straight on my wish list. I recommend the article on Geographical Imaginations which links through to an e-copy of the book on the Kriegspiel site which also hosts a computer version of the game (which is shortly to be relaunched). Every now and again we need a healthy input of real intellectual dimensions and you can get that from both of these sites.
Debord playing his game with his wife, loser does the dishes. 
Much to ponder but hopefully not too much to knock me off my immediate course of action. I survived last weekend's diversion to Stalingrad, although I took an immediate dive into the War of the Spanish Succession and Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargames. His Horse and Musket rules are perhaps one of the better ones in the set because the combat engine replicates really well the degrading of units by fire over time. Expect another hex grid conversion imminently!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Stalingrad ideas

Trying to maintain the aim!

Like many wargamers I am prone to changes of directions on a whim. Today's whim is Stalingrad, one of my perennial interests.

The direct cause of this wobble in direction is a small book: Stalingrad: Battle Atlas Volume I by Anton Joly (ISBN 9791093222035).

I found this by accident on Amazon. It is a POD, produced by Amazon itself. It is in faux typewriter style but, on closer inspection, is quite nicely produced and very well set out.

My main interest in Stalingrad is the fighting for the city between early September and the launch of the Soviet counterattack in November. The dynamics of this urban battle are simply stupendous.

I have invested in David Glantz's Armageddon in Stalingrad Volume 2 covering the September to November 1942 period. This is a great book but the maps are simply not that good. Some are simple reproductions of wartime sketches, and none the worse for that, but it is difficult to get a true sense of the war on the ground.

This little book provides the following:
  • weekly OB
  • weekly estimate of force strengths
  • weekly global situation map at sunrise
  • daily partial situation map at sunset
  • daily summary of key actions supported by some photos and quotations from key players
From a quick review I am beginning to think this book will be very useful. Volume I covers 13 September to 13 October. Volumes II and III are also available.

Pros:  I like the style and the very logical structure is good. Subject to some cross checking, the data will be very useful.

Cons: Small maps and some of the detail is blurry (or is it me). Maps would be better with greater definition (and full colour A3 on shiny photo style paper in my own happy universe!) but are usable. No detail below major formation or supporting assets (army artillery etc).

Overall. very handy and well worth the investment.

Tom Smith's Stalingrad Central map
Coincidentally, Panzer Blitz showed up in the BGG Hotness. I played Panzer Blitz to death in the 1970s and remember it fondly (and the panje carts). On taking a closer look I find that Tom Smith has produced three Panzer Blitz maps covering Stalingrad City. Hmmmmh, stroking long white beard, what could a chap do with a Panzer Blitz map of Stalingrad? 

Time for a steady hand on the tiller, and seeing what I fancy doing when I get up tomorrow!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

On to Arras!

Nearly there.....

I have had man flu and a dose of hard work, neither of which are good for me. Emerging this weekend with a sore head I have determined to get back into action at Arras.

I say, is that Arras?
Order of battle

I have had another go and am happier with the improved version.

Invading Germans in Krupp-Protze carrier
Scenario map

I am now officially happy with the map and don't plan to change it unless play testing reveals something weird. The next job is to markup the starting locations and reinforcement hexes. 


I have really enjoyed putting together some counters. 

Infantry Tank Mark 1 Matilda
These icons are modified Junior general images. I plan to play test using these rather than new toys.

Light Yank VIB

I now have a working draft set of rules, hurrah. So very nearly ready to go!

My Arras page now has the latest version of the files so please have a look and let me know what you think. I'm looking forward to getting some counters sorted out this week and perhaps a first go next weekend.