Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hmmmm...

Spotted this yesterday in Tesco's (UK supermarket chain for those not in the know).. slightly bigger than A4 size, comes full of strawberries for £4, eat the strawberries and then use the MDF it is made from for buildings, models, bases, whatever... 

I looked at it and thought, mud wall fortification/village for the Sudan/North Africa..  spray paint it black and then mud wash with lighter shades of brown and sand...  but £4 for that amount of MDF? Bargain...  oh, and you get to eat the strawberries...  nom nom as the young people say..

PS. Have had to remove anonymous posting of comments as I'm being inundated with requests for assistance with their blogs as they like mine so much (and felt the need to comment that on a 8 year old post!) 

PPS. Have added a "contact me" widget should you ever feel the need... 



Monday, April 16, 2018

"One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 15 - "Fortified Defence" - Setup and Game

After a shamefully long hiatus (* .. six weeks!), so it was that the combination of a missed Salute, a rainy Sunday, a missing grandson (he was at his other grand parents before people start worrying) and various female members of the family otherwise occupied finally allowed me to give thought to dragging the loft ladder down for the walk of shame...  I was dreading the sound of the catcalls and derisory whistling from all the little metal men, but as it turned out they were quite pleased to see me...

* to be fair - this is my busiest time of the year as it's launch month for my precious [clicky] and with the winter we'd had I was trying to fit a whole seasons maintenance into three days.. I've just about recovered....

I'd been sat in the smoking chair (in the garage - it's the only place I can have a beer and a cigar and be left alone) and reviewing some of the pictures from the Salute when I was overcome with an urge to push some lead...  a half an hours muse over what period to play and I decided it was more than time for me to drag the WWII North Africa forces out of their storage drawers where they have languished for far too long...

Scenario was easy - I just wanted a nice simple game to while a few rainy hours on a Sunday - One Hour Wargames it was and as I am working my way through the scenario's one by one, this time it was #15 - "Fortified Defence", a scenario, which according to the book is based on Fontenoy... sot he premise is two fortified towns held by one side (I diced and they turned out to be held by Commonwealth forces) are attacked by the second (the Axis, as I fielded Italian armour and infantry). Straight out of "Crusader" or the retreat from "Beda Fomm" during 'Sonnenblum' - I went with the latter, not that it matters, but just because I wanted to give a flavour to the tabletop forces deployed....

Six units aside and after dicing the:
  • Commonwealth force comprised - three infantry, two mortars, and one unit tanks (Cruisers - A9's)
  • Axis force comprised - three infantry (one was Italian), two tanks (Pz III's, and M11/30's), and one anti tank gun
..just for look and feel I tripled all unit sizes as it looked better in the scale I was playing, so rather than one tank representing a unit I used three, etcetc

You have 15 moves to take both towns with the benefit to the attackers being that on any move they can declare "refit" - and all their remaining forces are removed, but they get a complete replacement of all starting forces on the baseline. The defenders get an additional dice of casualties as fortification support (to be honest this is such a tough scenario, I didn't use it)

Rules were straight out of the book - last game we talked about modifying the observation rules, but in this game it's a little tough for the attackers already so I dispensed with the observation test and went with the rules per the book...
Commonwealth deploy first and went as per the following...  in my trusty old Airfix Fort Sahara (doubling as an abandoned Foreign legion outpost), two infantry and a mortar..  in the village, beyond the rough ground, which is impassable to all units other than infantry, I placed the other mortar and the remaining infantry..  I had the Cruisers to act as a mobile reserve.



Mortar nice and safe in the courtyard - with the infantry acting as observers..


Axis enter the table (for the first time)


My plan then was to focus all efforts on the fort, and then swing any remaining troops around to attack the village..  the scenario calls for both to be taken for a win, anything else is a loss, there is no draw..

Start of game and the Axis forces advance and open fire..  but are met with a veritable deluge of shrapnel and explosive.


It was at this time I realised that there was no way the Axis could win this game with the forces at their disposal... through good luck the Commonwealth had rolled for two mortars, with four other units who could spot for them, and a range four times anything else on the table, the units attacking the fort were faced with four dice of casualties every turn - the three from the fort and the mortar in the village..  in return, any attacks on the fort by the Axis were at half points - because of cover...  tough, nay impossible, order...

In the following - more four or five - one Axis infantry lost already, anti tank gun and Italian armour moving on the village..


Feuer! Tirare! Another Axis infantry unit gone...


...three or four moves later and the only Axis force remaining was the German armour, so I fired and declared re-fit as per the scenario - tactics second time round were the same but with the same end result unfortunately.. managed to capture the fort, but with one unit left (the German armour again) on only five points remaining (see following) I called it - there was no way they could take the other village...


Post match analysis:
  • Despite the one sided'ness of it I enjoyed the game - it was good to be pushing lead, and it was nice to have the Desert forces out on the table again...   
  • Rules are simple but give a quick and bloody game - I don't doubt I could tinker with them more, but would the added complexity add to the game? Not sure..
  • If I was to modify anything then the mortars may need looking at - everything else has a max range of 12" they fire at 48"..  so range may need looking at..  spotting is by any friendly unit.. maybe a test to simulate radio difficulties??
  • This scenario more than any other is very dependant on what you roll on the force table..  if either side gets a mortar and the other doesn't times are going to get tough for the side that doesn't...  may be a rule to limit, or ensure each side has one? Or the side that has the mortar is automatically the attacker?
  • I dispensed with the additional firing dice for the fort/village..  the occupiers were already strong enough...
  • Side entertainment while playing was "Sea of Sand" on DVD [clicky] - most apt..

Thursday, March 01, 2018

"Mississippi River Gunboatsof the American Civil War" - a review...

Second gunboat book in a row..  there may be a trend..

As per the last book on the Sudanese gunboats, regular readers will know that I also have an interest in this theatre of war albeit, unlike the Sudan I have not only land forces but also a small naval contingent..

Written by Angus Konstam I thought this was an altogether better book than the Sudan one, not because the subject wasn't any more or less interesting, but purely down to the fact that Angus clearly had more to write about...

Like the Sudan book, there is a succession of sections on organisation of both sides (Union clearly ahead here), the design of the ships (torpedo, ram, cotton clad, tin clad, iron clad etc.) and how the nature of the war influenced the design, the ships (ditto the Union), operations, armament (bewildering range), and lists of the major/minor ships and potted history  of where and when they fought, and what the outcomes were...  a surprising number of the ships changed sides at one point in time or the other (even after sinking's) but the majority ended up beached, burned and destroyed...

Illustrations in this one were similar in coverage to the Sudan book, but I didn't think they popped off the page quite as much as the ones in the Sudan book..

What's not to like??!

Steve the Wargamer however rates this one 9 out of 10, purely for the depth and better details...

Thursday, February 22, 2018

"Nile River Gunboats 1882 - 1918".. a review..

One of the few New Year aims (I don't have resolutions they're far too contractual ) I made this year, was to remedy the pitiful situation of the last few years where through sheer laziness my non-fiction reading has been sometimes less than a dozen books in a year, and often a lot less...  a decision was made to read at least one non-fiction book a month, and the somewhat handy confluence of that decision, and an email from Osprey announcing a sale, sparked a mini buying spree - I bought the subject of this review, and also "Mississippi River Gunboats of the American Civil War 1861–65" (which I'll review separately)

My regular reader will know that I have more than a passing interest in the Sudan Colonial period, and indeed collect forces for both sides in 15mm (more here [clicky]) but they are for the land based campaigns, and with the exception of the lone dhow [clicky] I have not really transitioned into naval war-gaming in the period/theatre..I do however, have an interest in gunboats, and was interested to read more about operations on the water in the various campaigns against the Dervish...



This book (and indeed the other) is by well known wargamer Angus Konstam, and is a very handy checklist of armaments, weights, speeds, and operations of the gunboats that operated on the Nile for the duration of the war(s), and indeed right up to WWII (despite the title - though to be fair there is no detail post 1918 - it's just that some of the gunboats continued to serve in one form or another right up until then). It reads well, and easily, and some of the insights are fascinating - I hadn't realised how many of the senior naval commanders at Jutland had started their careers with the gunboats serving on the Nile, for example, I also hadn't realised that the Dervish operated a number of steam powered gunboats themselves... It has also by the by, triggered a decision to re-visit and re-read "The River War" by Churchill...

It's not a long book, but for the little more than a fiver it cost me, pure gold, and what makes it doubly worthwhile are the illustrations (by Peter Dennis) which are simply superb, and the following is an example of...




I note on the Osprey site the paperback is now marked out of stock.. not surprised.. well worth a fiver of anyone's money! I not you can get the Kindle version for not much more though..

Steve the Wargamer rates it  8 out of 10...

Monday, February 12, 2018

Anti tank guns..!

...the paint brushes were a veritable whirr the weekend before last, clearly..   these were the last items to leave the paint table...  all of these are destined to bolster my 15mm skirmish forces for France 1940.

...firstly, British 2 pdrs - these are from "Forged in Battle", and bought at Warfare last November...


...bit fiddly if I'm honest but nice when painted up..  the crew member firing is cast as part of the gun...


..next - from the same maker. German 37mm Pak's...


...nice models but again quite fiddly to put together as the barrel is separate..


...and then finally some French 25mm anti tank guns, this time from Peter Pig..



..."ouvrir le feu!"