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 biscuits....no 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!

Thursday 2 October 2014

Here come the Dons!

New Spanish troops

I was in Rugby at the weekend and popped into Joto Hobbies, a brilliant little shop opposite the school. It looks the short of "shoppe" that you might find Harry Potter nosing around in. 

As it happens they had received a delivery of the latest HaT Spanish troops and I took advantage by purchasing one of each:

  • 8300 Light infantry
  • 8301 Grenadiers
  • 8302 Line Infantry
  • 8303 Command

  • The plastic is quite soft but the sculpting is great. Nice boxes too...

    So, that's the infantry sorted out but what about cavalry (perhaps the Hat Saxon or Prussian 1806 cavalry with the big hats?) and artillery (Prussian 1806?).

    The Spanish will go very well with my planned Bavarian, Wurttemberg and Swedish armies. Nothing like the mainstream!

    I'm also pondering a visit to Derby this weekend. Now I have my Spanish troops there is nothing on my immediate shopping list but I'm sure I'll find some inspiration there.