Wednesday 31 December 2014

Welcome to 2015!

Whats on the wishlist for the new year?

Well I have done my project update for the new year so this is a list of the things I either have on my wish list for the year already or things that I am currently pondering. Time, funds and family duties will ravage this list as they always do. However, as each year goes by, I find myself with more and more things to look at, play and buy. Compared to even ten years ago (let alone 40) this is truly a golden age for wargamers and long may it continue.


All sorts of rules, old and new, on the menu for the year:

Sample Blucher piece

  • Blucher: A Napoleonic Campaign and Battle game by Sam Mustafa. This is really interesting not least because it appears to be based on a very simple game engine, where units are brigades, and it can be played using cards instead of miniatures. Indeed, there will be a card pack for the 100 Days.
  • Crossfire: Reprinted and therefore back on my list.
  • Bloody Big Battles: Chris Pringle's latest set of rules with scenarios for European 19C battles. He was the author of TAC and Warring Empires, the latter spawned the Principles of War series (which was never as good as the original!). Looks good, from Caliver Books at £18.50 for the rules (including some scenarios) and the same again for a scenario book.
  • Polemos: Yes, must get round to these, ECW and Great Northern War, although the latter is out of print.
  • Hordes of the Future (HOF): I've mentioned this before. Played on a square grid (which takes my fancy) and has some nice miniatures to go with it.
  • Chain of Command: Having encountered Bolt Action with its very primitive game engine, I am more inclined to run with ChoC, especially now is has such well developed scenario support, including the pint sized D-Day campaign.
  • PBI III: Not sure about this at all. I have I and II. I like the grid and think that some of the rules give a most realistic impression of modern warfare. I don't like the pre-game or the buckets of dice approach. Sometimes I think I just need to go back to the original AK47 which, happily enough, Mr Pig is selling as a PDF.

I'm looking forward to all of these greatly:

Fields of Battle Volume 1
  • Holdfast: I got Holdfast Russia 1941-42 for Christmas and am looking forward to playing it once I can get some table space. I understand the next Holdfast episode is Korea so I think I'll be saving myself for the Bulge when it arrives, hopefully in 2015.
  • Fields of Battle: Eight battles of the Great Northern War by Steve Kling from the Historical Game Co. I hear this is nearly ready for release. I'm really quite excited!
  • Stalingrad solitaire: Another one by Steve Kling and I can't wait for this. One of my favourite subjects. Supposedly due out after the Great Northern War game.
  • Espania 20: Just out from Victory Point Games. The latest in their series of small Napoleonic games, this one covering Bailen and Salamanca and looking very nice. VPG are a little pricey so I might have to put this one on the back burner ($44.99 and no mounted map). 
  • Tannenberg 1914 and Masuria 1915: Two folio games by Decision on one of my favourite areas of WW1. I have been lucky enough to get some good deals on folio games in the past so will be looking out for these two.
  • Heroes of Normandy: I got this last year and I haven't really got into it yet but may decide to invest in 21 PD counters and the recently released Commonwealth troops box before they go out of print (which is inevitable).
Stuff to explore

There is a lot of interesting stuff around that bears further exploration, so not recommendations at this stage:

Berserker Games: Operation D-Day

  • Solitaire PnP games: I have just come across a large range of solitaire games by Berserker, new publisher to me. Everything from colonials to sci-fi. They look interesting and I may just try one out (Manchuria, D-Day or Viet Nam?).
  • Billy Bones: Billy makes paper soldiers of the ECW and ACW. What is tempting me is the set of soldiers for Montrose and Covenanters ($7.50 from Wargames Vault). This contains all I will ever need to fight Montrose's battles in Scotland.
  • Five Core Company Command (PnP rules): From Nordic Weasel, the producers of the popular Five Core skirmish rules, these use up to twelve squads/vehicles a side. I'd like to see an AAR of these.
  • No end in sight: Another Nordic Weasel, this time at a lower level covering squad level tactics for any time post-WWII. The reviews look good and note a similarity of effect to Crossfire.
  • Corner of a Foreign Field: Morningstar's dirt cheap two page modern skirmish rules. 
  • 2 by 2: This looks like a little gem. This uses 2mm troops on a 2 foot square table to play quite large battles. And its free.
Things to play

My list of things to get out of the cupboard and play. Actually its not even that far, these games sit on a shelf within arms reach!

Back of the box
  • Manoeuvre: A great little Napoleonic game that I want to use to get my kids into some proper games (i.e. that aren't electronic!).
  • Remagen, Faiaise, St Lo and 1914: Opening Moves: All small Minden Games awaiting a spin.
  • Day of Infamy (Pearl Harbour), An Loc, Fighting Eagles (WW1), Death before Dishonour (Santiago 1898) and Clash of Lions (Sinai 1967): All small games from High Flying Dice that also need some exercise.
  • D'Overlord a Berlin: A Vae Victis area movement game covering 1944 to 1945 in Europe.
  • Four Roads to Moscow: The ATO 2010 annual including games by Mike Rinella, Ted Raicer and Roger Nord. All folio sized games on the Barbarossa campaign.
Phew! My wish for the year is that things go well and everyone has a safe and rewarding year. May the force be with you and may we all get some time for hobby stuff!

Saturday 27 December 2014

2015: What's next?

Well, you never can tell!

I'm up early on an icy Saturday morning awaiting a delivery and have been mulling over the past year. A lot has happened in the last twelve months in my real world, not much of it predictable, and my hobby world has pretty much gone the same way.

In February 2014 I had carefully planned to prepare two games this year, Tannenberg 1914 and Neuve Chapelle 1915. Obviously inspired by the 100 year commemorations. While I have done a lot on both I have not actually finished either of them. The current state of play is:

I'm really proud of this map and can't wait to get it finished
Tannenberg: The map is almost complete, it requires only the addition of the rail lines and some game information. I have learnt a lot about MS Paint this year so I am feeling more confident about finishing this off. The OB research is done and I'm ready to start on the game design. This year I have been impressed with the game systems for Scotland Rising and Holdfast, both by Worthington. Ideally I will use an adaptation of one or other.

Not the Neuve Chapelle map!
Neuve Chapelle: The research is done and an initial map drafted in hex form. My sticking point here is that I really want to use the FoW Firestorm system and have been encouraged in this line of thinking by their release of their free game on Villers-Brettoneux. This is very much on the list of projects for this next year.

So, what have I done instead?

Venture Fair: I spent a lot of time working on my Montrose game at the start of the year but it got overtaken by other things. The rules are done and the scenario research completed but actually coming up with scenario maps has taken much effort.   

Scenario for Kilsyth 1645
Neil Thomas hex grid rules (NTHGR): I pulled together a hex grid adaptation of Neil Thomas' Napoleonic rules over the summer. The reason for this is to give me a framework for building some plastic Napoleonic armies. The real breakthrough on this was realising that I needed only a very small hex grid (8 by 6) as demonstrated by Norm Smith in his Tigers at Minsk rules. 

The answer to almost everything!
These rules are at version 2 and seem to have generated some interest which I'm pleased about. It would be really useful to get some feedback because I still think the rules are too complex (for me at least). My preference is to do a third version that completely finishes the conversion to the hex grid. I also made some counters up to have a go before preparing my plastic types but this just led me elsewhere!

Disorganised Austrians for the NTHG rules, look closely!
Waterloo a la Carte: Yes, this was intended as a scenario for the NTHG rules but I then developed some rules and counters so a complete game could be played. These were based on the Scotland Rising model and were an interesting exercise. 

Waterloo a la Carte map
Plan B: Wargames Rules for Russia 1941: This idea came from a combination of the new Neil Thomas One Hour Wargames Rules (1HW) and the 8 by 6 hex grid. My first step into the world of 15mm and not an unpleasant one! Job done except for the soldiers.

KISS My Arras!: My current project in 6mm and one I'm having a lot of fun with, especially the trees. Based on an absolutely brilliant rule set by Norman Mackenzie. More on this one shortly.

Projects for 2015

Lets look at musts, shoulds and coulds:

  • Tannenberg 1914/Neuve Chapelle 1914: Lets get these finished!
  • Plan B/Arras: Buy some soldiers, paint them up and have a nice game or two.
  • Venture Fair: One last push!
  • Plastic Napoleonic armies: I have the soldiers now for Swedish, Bavarian and and Wurttemberg armies. I'm not far off gathering a Spanish army but need both artillery and cavalry for them (and perhaps some guerrillas). These will be for the NTHG rules.
  • NTHGR: I would like to do a third version to iron out some of the issues that I think remain with the game. Lots of play testing required.
  • Jacobite Risings (various): A straight adaptation of the Stephen Simpson rules. Troops already painted and ready to go!
  • British in Normandy 1944: One of my favourite subjects and one with lots of work already done. I like the idea of a large M44 style game.
  • Firestorm Caen: New counters and perhaps a play with the Cherbourg and Overlord versions.
  • Kursk: I have done lots of thinking on this one and intended last year to give it a go in the BGG solitaire game design contest but ran out of time. I like both Firestorm and Holdfast rules for this design but I wouldn't feel comfortable using them in a game for submission. I'll have to work on some homegrown rules for this one. 

There is quite a lot of stuff that I'm mulling over:
  • Sci-fi: I have Alien Squad Leader and am thinking about HOF Fire-Team. I really fancy blowing away some aliens.
  • ECW HOTT: This set of army lists has got me very interested. I'm a fan of most things about HOTT/DBA apart from the appallingly written rules and lack of hexes. This is a job that needs doing.
  • 2mm: I'm now interested in this again mainly because I have been playing with my old 2mm buildings. I love the idea of 2mm ECW, possibly HOTT, and there is lots of useful reading on the SteelonSand blog.
SteelonSand ECW army
New conflict zones:
  • Bother in the Baltic: I really like unusual Napoleonic armies. The fighting around the Baltic involved Danes, Norwegians, Swedes, Russians, Spanish (!), Dutch, Baden and a British expeditionary force. Lots of ideas here for a NTHGR campaign.
  • 1864 Denmark: This is on the TV next year and I'm sure will require some troops for Neil's 19C rules (on a hex grid of course).
  • The War of 1812: Lots of nice simple battles for a campaign.
  • The Liberators (Latin America): I bought the book by Robert Harvey and am now extremely interested.
Lessons learnt? None. Sorry, I mean lots. While I haven't finished anything this year, I'm really pleased that I have developed my ideas and written them down so I can at least pick them up later. The blog has helped me to organise my thoughts and stay focused. The nice comments and interest have been a great encouragement, so my thanks to everyone who has read the blog.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Ho Ho HO!

In a very jovial fashion...

Well its Christmas Eve and almost everything is done. One last job, fit a new toilet seat (don't ask) then some hobby stuff and cooking before helping Santa with the presents.

The reason for the joviality is that I have found long lost stuff in the garage during the Christmas preparations. To wit....

My wooden town models (has Arras written all over it).

Wooden trees, H&R metal trees and 2mm terrain.

A box of bases (East Riding and FoW).

And lastly, some extra green procured from Joto Hobbies in Rugby today after a nice trip with my eldest son.

Santa will have to go some to make me feel any happier than this. Lots of food, my family and some old stuff from the garage, top!

My festive wishes to you all, I hope you have a safe, happy and joyful holiday.

PS I must remember to watch Norm's Christmas post tomorrow after the presents.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Its a long way to Arras

Further than I thought!

Work doesn't slow down for Christmas these days so hobby time has been at a real premium. I have, however, made good progress with my Arras game. Long experience with my foibles and lack of delivery has convinced me that, once I have a good and workable idea, I should go for it hell for leather. This way I at least get to a complete product for play testing rather than ending with a big pile of books on the floor that stay there for several years until I can't remember what I was doing with them.

The story so far:

1. Troops. I have had a go at the OB. Having done some more reading I know now that I have to revisit my first draft.

2. The narrative. I have found a great Marine Corps publication about 7 PD in France and Russia that gives the "other side of the hill" so I'm looking to get a proper grip on the German perspective.

3. A map, nearly completed! I can play on my prototype foam hexes.

4. The rules are KISS Rommel (how appropriate!) with some slight adjustments for scale.

5. Toys. I have looked out some 6mm troops. I have some British and German infantry (H&R) but no suitable tanks. I'm really looking forward to putting in an order for Matildas, Somuas and Pz38ts. That's not to mention the 88s and 2pdrs.

I'm enjoying preparing this game so much that I'm tempted to put together some counters and try it as a board game as well. However, I have also found my 2mm terrain in the garage and its now back in the house (but don't tell the wife). This will go really well with the new shiny tanks. Roll on January!

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Napoleonic hex grid rules get a run out!

AAR published

People playing the hex grid game!
I was really pleased to receive a comment today on my earlier post about the Neil Thomas hex grid rules variant. Mike Lewis and his chums have had a go at v2 and quite like them, which pleases me no end. You can see the AAR here. I'm really interested to see what feedback a few plays will generate.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

A little light housekeeping

My file handling at the moment can only be described as as sloppy. Usually I'm a bit more organised. I have today upgraded the Plan B Russian Front hex grid rules and my first go at the KISS My Arras! OB to PDFs and updated the posts. In doing this I have identified a complete trail of destruction through my folders on my PC where I have been extremely random. I can blame the children, pressure of work and the drink, or in fact all three. A little tidying up job for the Xmas holidays!

Sunday 30 November 2014

KISS My Arras!

Initial thinking

Apart from going arf arf about the title I have doing some thinking. This is largely based on the account in Julian Thompson's Dunkirk book (Sidgwick & Jackson 2008) which seems to follow the official history very closely. So we have a very uncoordinated attack by a composite British force, supported by the French, against the flank of 7th Panzer Division and SS Totenkopf. This lasted a short time before being stopped by a German gun line.

Much has been made of this fairly primitive episode. It certainly wasn't the major counter-attack that some histories present it as. Nevertheless, it does show how both professional and dedicated the pre-war BEF was but also its limitations on a modern battlefield, especially its very poor communications.

From my point of view it has Matildas I and II. I have only just realised that the Matilda I was produced in very limited numbers (139) and this was its major outing. It also has the "what if" possibilities that make for a great game, just like the Bulge!

A foggy Matilda I
I want to use my 8 by 6 hex grid and some 1/300 tanks. This looks like a job for KISS Rommel with some hex grid type adjustments.

First go is the attached OB for the battle, leaning very heavily on Bob Mackenzie's Bathtub Command Decision scenario. Next may well be a happy 1/300 shopping experience.

Saturday 29 November 2014

New stuff

Just in time for Xmas

As all gentlemen know, Xmas is a time of socks, ties and other unnecessary presents (monogrammed golf tees for example). A wise chap usually stocks up with a couple of essential presents for himself to enjoy in the odd quiet moment over the holidays. They don't have to be expensive.......

Ground Pounders

Some time ago Quick and Easy Games produced a free rules booklet for use with Dark Dream Studios Space Battles plastic figures. This was conveniently called Space Battles. They have now come up with a new version of the rules, Ground Pounders, which is based on their almost as cheap generic toy soldier rules called Battlefields.

I think this kind of stuff is great. I'm not a fan of £30 rule books. What I do need is good ideas that look like fun and you can't say fairer than this......

Two Buck Games

Two Buck have released a couple of new games Wake Island and AWI Battles 4. Wake Island looks interesting (1941 in the Pacific). 

The AWI game contains 9 mini scenarios, each with its own map:
  • Monmouth (initial)
  • Monmouth (final)
  • Harlem Heights
  • Fort Washington
  • Ticonderoga Defiant
  • Paulus Hook
  • Red Bank
  • Bound Brook
  • Fort Clinton
This follows on from three other collections which cover a total of 28 AWI mini battles plus a larger game on Brandywine.

I can't find a picture of this latest AWI pack but here is one of the earlier ones.....

Both of these are great value at $5 each (inflation strikes even at Two Buck Games) and they can be downloaded from Wargames Downloads. Possibly one, or even two, for Boxing Day!

Combat Leader

Minden Games have a great reputation for tactical games. They are the people that brought us Retro, Squad Leader made simple (for thickies like me). Their latest game is Combat Leader (Eastern Front 1941) which looks like a nice infantry only tactical (man to man) game. This picture gives a flavour of the components.

This might be Retro the "game", as opposed to just the rules, as it has a real Squad Leader feel. I'll keep this on the radar. It is hard copy only and comes in at US $32.90 for the basic game and first expansion (urban warfare). Not very cheap but not perhaps the sort of investment required by Combat Commander or similar. See update below!


This is my real Xmas present this year. I collected it from the Post Office this morning. A simple block game of Barbarossa and 1942. It has great reviews and, although a bit on the pricey side, seems to have enormous replay value. 

The rules look really straightforward and the big plus is that they plan to do more WW2 campaigns. The next one is the Bulge. Top!

This is getting a bit scarce, I could find only one shop with it in stock (Leisure Games, London), so if you are after this, get in quick.

I haven't posted much recently because, having reached an interim stage with Plan B, I've found yet another really interesting project. This one is KISS My Arras! Not an original title (someone else thought of it before me) but this is my effort at using KISS Rommel to play the battle of Arras 1940. Essentially, a tactical version of KISS at roughly company/platoon level. More on this in due course.

Update: I see that Norm Smith has just reviewed the Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit 10th anniversary edition. This looks good and is only US$25 so it might be a good alternative to Combat Leader, if not precisely the same scale.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Scotland Rising!

New stuff for Xmas

I got Scotland Rising through the Kickstarter exercise over the summer. This is a really good game about the battle of Bannockburn in 1314. The game is an interesting twist on the Hold the Line system, one I enjoy very much.

As has been pointed out by various reviewers, although a good game it is pretty expensive for what it is. I had hoped that it would come with two stretch goals, additional games covering Stirling Bridge 1297 and Falkirk 1298. The bad news was that the Kickstarter didn't get that far. The good news is that both extras are being made available as print n play games from the Worthington Games website.

Both maps are available as PDFs. These are smaller than the Bannockburn map and come in at 11" by 17" and are easily produced at the local print shoppe. 

The Stirling Bridge rules and set-up map (see below) have now been made available. There is a promise of the additional material for Falkirk before Xmas.

Both games can be played with the counters from the Bannockburn game (a pity we don't get a Wallace counter!). These should provide a nice, and very cheap, diversion over the holidays.

Talking of diversions, it should shortly be time for the Consim World annual funding drive so we can expect a few more freebies to come from that.

Thursday 20 November 2014

Plan B: Wargame Rules for Russia 1941

Now operational....Phew!

It has been a really busy few weeks at work but the real reason for the lack of posts has been that I have spent all my available time working on Plan B. The first draft is now ready....hurrah!

I am very pleased that I have persevered with this project. It has not been straightforward and I am happy that I have got to a completed first draft. 

As you may have gathered, this is my attempt to use Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames (1HW) for a 1941 Russian Front campaign. I have included design notes in the rules to show how and why I have deviated from the published rules.  My key criterion is that I want to shoot and kill things (sorry, that's a bit technical). Not a feeling that I get from 1HW. I have put a lot of thought into the rules and, while I have done the sums and pushed some counters around, I have yet to experience how these rules play as a game and a campaign.

At this point I'm open to any comments or criticisms. If anyone else wants to have a play and feedback, that's great. My next step with this project is to order some 15mm metal soldiers (I have both birthday and Xmas coming up!) and get ready to play at some point over the festive holidays.

I have to say that Neil Thomas has my greatest respect for the way that he is able to present his rules with such precision. I hope I have done them justice.

I now feel the need to boil my head and think about Napoleonics for a change!

Saturday 8 November 2014

1914 Opening Moves

A nice request...

I was surprised this morning to be contacted by Mark Johnson of the Wargames to Go podcast. He is planning a review of 1914 Opening Moves by Minden Games for Wargames to Go Episode 4. I've been listening to this podcast because it specifically addresses small games. In Episode 3, Mark interviewed Charles Vasey and Roberto Chiavini and looked at a range of ECW games, including the excellent Unhappy King Charles.

1914 is a very small solitaire game featuring a handful of army level units that describes the initial German offensive into Belgium and France. It is a great game to play with a beer in one hand and a good book on the campaign in the other. In pre-blog days I posted the odd picture and thought on BGG. Because the map and counters provided by Minden are somewhat basic, I made an expanded version of the map (to A3) and coloured it in with pencils. Nothing like using technology! I also made some new counters in Excel which I thought were rather nice, including a picture of a Skoda gun. This is what I posted....

Mark was after the files for the map and counters, unfortunately I could only provide the counters which you can now find here. It will be interesting to see what Mark makes of the game so I'll be watching for the next episode.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Plan B report from the front!

Nearly there..

I have been quietly getting on with the Plan B project. First on the list has been to paint my available tank forces. These now look like...
  • German: 1 Pz II, 2 Pz III, 1 Pz IV, 1 Pz 38t, 1 Sdkfz 231, 2 Sdkfz 222, 1 sIG 33, 1 88, 1 Sdkfz 251, 1 beute Panhard 178, 2 Stuka, 1 Hs 126 and 1 Bf109. 
  • Soviet: 3 T34, 1 BT5, 2 T26, 1 BA10, 1 T35, 2 Sturmovik.
Here is my medium tank platoon. Zvezdas apart from the A&A in the middle. All done in black undercoat, Fortress Grey, Codex Grey and finished with bolt metal and Nuln Oil (uuugh).

The recon platoon, all A&As.

The beginnings of my artillery platoon (sIG), Panzergrenadier platoon and light tank platoon. All Zvezda except the sIG.

My Soviet light tank platoon with extra BA10. All Zvezda and done in Bronze Green with dry brushed Green-Brown and Mid-Stone then covered in Earthshade.

On the stocks right now are my two Stukas and the HS 126. Being done together as they will all be in ground attack colours.

Time for a shopping list for the rest. I'm still keen on the Skytrex Command Decision models, although Peter Pigs also look good, if a little more pricey. 

The rules are coming on and I aim to get a draft on the Blog this week. A target to meet does me good. I had quite forgotten how difficult it is to design simple rules where there are armoured and non-armoured troops so this is a bit of a challenge. I have enjoyed re-reading Norm's Tigers at Minsk rules and I hope to emulate them.

Sunday 19 October 2014

Its been a busy day....

and I'm glad I've spent it doing stuff

I'm sure that could be a song if I just got the words right! I'm doing some tank washing with recently acquired Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade (really!). My Plan B tanks should be finished and worth a photo in a couple of days. I have episode 2 of The Great War playing on You Tube. I'm really impressed with it in terms of its presentation, complexity and historicity.

However, apart from working and chores I have had the great please of assisting my youngest two with their history homework.

Its a Maus, or as close as you can get with the cardboard from the garage and some left over paint.

And some WW1 flour but plenty of treacle.

Worth a couple of house points I think! No wonder I never finish anything...

Thursday 16 October 2014

Russia is quite popular......

at least with wargamers!

Well, I hadn't quite realised the amount of current Russian Front activity when I outlined my Plan B campaign approach. I understand that Flames of War's next release is Barbarossa and that PSC released Battlegroup Barbarossa earlier on this year. I'm not sure if this means I'm on trend or slightly behind the times. Never mind. 

Today's Russian front news is that Norm Smith is releasing a campaign system for his Tigers at Minsk rules and, not only that, he has prepared a brilliant trailer for it.....

I must admit this made me smile, lots!

My current progress with Plan B is that I now have some painted German troops, not yet completely finished but well on the way. It will shortly be time to order the infantry.

My campaign will be a solo ladder, so far consisting of four areas to be contested:

Frontier battles
Soviet Mechanised counter attack

Closing the pockets
3. River crossing
5. Bridgehead
15. Fortified defence
6. Flank attack
10. Late arrivals
18. Counter attack

14. Static defence
19. Blow from the rear
30. Last stand
4. Take the high ground
27. Disordered defence
26. Triple line

The references are to the One Hour Wargames Scenarios. In each one the red army is, surprisingly, the Red Army! The idea is that one scenario is selected (at random) in the frontier battles box. If the Germans win they move onto the Soviet Mechanised Counterattack box. If they lose, they have another go at another scenario. This way, the Germans get three goes at moving out of the first box, if they fail all three they lose.

As with all ladder campaigns the idea is for the Germans to get to the fourth box and defeat the Red Army. Similarly, the Red Army works to push the Germans back to the frontier. 

One idea I'm playing with is the use of specific rules for each part of the ladder. For example, the frontier battles box could have an option for one or more Red Army units to be NKVD. Later, there could be an option for Red Army militia units or German exhaustion.

Given the random selection of scenarios in each box plus random army selections in the scenarios and, potentially, some further special rules this will give a real challenge and a unique sense of the campaign. To get in the mood I'm re-reading Robert Kershaw's War Without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-42.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Its got to be Plan B......

For Barbarossa that is!

I was so very pleased with myself for getting the Wurttemberg cavalry last week that I failed to realise the consequences of my Zvezda purchases (BA10, T26 and Sdkfz 251B). As I said in my last post, these would be used for an early war variant of Norm Smith's Russian front rules.

I have in fact sat down with Norm's rules, which are great, and pondered how I might use them. The main problem from my perspective is the scenarios are very much 1943 orientated. My toys are very much 1941. What I really need is a set of simple scenarios that I can use to play very short games. "Aha!" I said, how about this nice set of 30 scenarios in Neil Thomas' One-hour Wargames book. Ideal, job done then?

Well not quite. The scenarios are really good, for example, Scenario 5 Bridgehead. Blue forces have discovered a river crossing in Red territory and are seeking to take it before Red can get their defences in place. Sounds like the drive on Leningrad to me, even the Blue/Red forces might be a clue. The scenarios can be stuck together in an order, or randomly to represent the campaign. Easy to play solitaire and perhaps could be played as three separate advances by Army Groups North, Centre and South and could even be interlinked.

Great but what is the problem then? Its the rules. I have decided that I want hexes and also that Neil's rules will not do what I want from a WW2 perspective. I love the small forces, army lists and variable composition but what I really want is to be able to have some shooting and killing, not just grinding down the opponent.

The solution therefore is this:

  • I use my new hex mat, six by six with each hex representing 6" square to fit Neil's scenarios.
  • One unit per hex, which ties in closely with Neil's unit sizes.
  • I want a wider force composition so instead of mortars lets have mortars or artillery, lets have AT Guns or heavy infantry (HMGs) and for tanks, lets have tanks or cavalry.
  • The units' composition can be determined randomly as per the C19 rules, so tanks could be light, medium or heavy (KV2 anyone!) or even a reconnaissance troop.
  • For order of play lets use a unit draw (six red and six black cards), perhaps with a random events card (Stukas spring to mind).
  • Then some purpose built rules, taking some lesson's from Norm's rules.

Soviet light, medium and heavy companies, on the kitchen table with optional cake tin
I have to say that I find this prospect very exciting. My current forces include:

German: 1 Pz II, 2 Pz III, 1 Pz IV, 1 Pz 38t, 1 Sdkfz 231, 2 Sdkfz 222, 1 sIG 33, 1 88, 1 Sdkfz 251, 1 beute Panhard 178, 2 Stuka, 1 Hs 126. 

Soviet: 3 T34, 1 BT5, 2 T26, 1 BA10, 1 T35, 2 Sturmovik.

Zvezda T26s and BT5, a light tank company in my book
I have mixed in suitable Axis and Allies miniatures (mainly from the second version) which look pretty good with the Zvezdas.

What about infantry? I only need four units per side. My first thought was to use some 1/72 plastics, similar to the Art of Tactic approach. Having reflected, I have now decided I want some 15mm chaps. This for me is a major departure. They would be my first ever 15mms and in metal as well. I have enjoyed having a quick look at Essex, P Pig, PSC and Battlefront. My preference is actually for Command Decision 15mm from Skytrex which are well priced and give me exactly what I need. I like the fact that the Soviet riflemen have all got fixed bayonets as was mandatory at the time. I'll stick with Zvezda for the vehicles, just on grounds of price.

So, another little diversion but one which will run alongside my Waterloo and Tanneberg projects, probably until Xmas. Once I have finished painting up my tanks, I'll be getting on with the Waterloo play test.

The cake tin contains a chocolate orange swirl cake which I'm planning to eat very soon!

Saturday 4 October 2014

Spoils of War

Derby Worlds 2014

A short dash up the M1 followed by a lengthy wait in the rain to get in. The Castle Donnington site is nothing like as good as the Derby University Atrium (I have said that before). This time round, with plenty of rain and low clouds, it was darker inside than usual. It may well be my eyesight, which is not good, but I found it very difficult to see what was going on. Being wet didn't help. Needless to say, I didn't stay long. 

I had a few things on my shopping list but perhaps the weather made me less inclined to purchase. I saw but did not buy Chain of Command and Crossfire. Nothing much else took my fancy until I got to the Parabellum stall where I found......

Joy of joys! A bit pricey but given that it is out of production I'm not complaining. Also, I found some useful chaps for a future Waterloo Dutch-Belgian contingent as well as doubling up for an 1812 US army...

Last but not least, some extra troops for my emerging Russian Front armies to play an early war variant of Norm Smith's Tigers at Minsk game.

I have had a poor year for the shows. I usually get to WMMS at Wolverhampton but this year was busy working. I also usually get to Claymore in Edinburgh but by good fortune I was there a week early at the Commonwealth Games. I think Derby will be my last outing this year, there is Birmingham Wargamer in late November but this is over by Stourbridge which is a bit of a hike. Never mind, I have some lovely Wurttemberg cavalry to play with!