Sunday, 13 May 2018

A Red Actions battle

A chance this week to dig out one of those armies that hasn't seen the light of day for several this case my Russian Civil War armies.  I built these up several years ago and they used to get a regular outing but they've languished for a long time, banished to the Loft of Despair.

The figures are mainly HaT 1/72 plastics with an assortment of odds and sods acquired via EBay.

My rules of choice for this period are Red Actions from The Perfect Captain website.  If you haven't come across this site (although I'm guessing most people have) it's well worth checking out the range of rules on there and available for free.  Red  Actions is a very comprehensive set covering the Civil War and also the various Nationalist wars that followed.  The only draw back is that it does require a fair amount of printing: the rules themselves are fairly brief but there are a host of counters and unit cards that go along with the game.  Luckily my previous job gave me plenty of opportunities to print stuff cheaply!

 A selection unit cards and commander counters that are used in the game

The rules are written in a odd question and answer style ('Tell me comrade, how does shooting work?') which is mildly amusing for the first few pages and then becomes a bit irritating...that, combined with an erratic layout and lack of index means that the rulebook, although brief, can be hard to navigate.  Despite this they are excellent and really suit the open nature of the RCW.  Casualties are surprisingly light for a WW1 era game but units readily acquire 'Terror' markers which severely limit their fighting ability.  It's also quite easy to remove these but it requires units to do nothing else for a turn, so games often take on a pattern of units engaging and then falling back to recover before going back into action...very fluid and dynamic.

Each unit consists of a number of platoons (up to 6) figures were all individually based and although I could have used 6 figures as a unit I find it looks better with them double based so I had temporarily remounted them onto 30 x 30mm bases...I say 'temporarily' but that assumes I'll ever get round to fixing them permanently.  There are unit cards for a whole host of Red and White unit types as well as Western Interventionist troops and various Nationalist armies such as Poles, Latvians, Freikorps etc.

I'd put together a straightforward scenario with both armies trying to occupy a railhead and some rolling stock in the centre of the table, no doubt containing vital supplies of caviar and vodka (I know...leave no stereotype unused!).  I'd probably gone a bit overboard with the number of units on each side but it was the first time in years I'd had all the toys out!  Both sides had a mix of infantry types and a cavalry unit.  The Reds had brought along an Austin armoured car and an FT17 tank for support while the Whites were accompanied by a British unit who had also brought some support: in this case a Mark V and a Whippet.  Both sides had some supports which would arrive on a dice throw...a plane for the Whites and an Armoured Train for the Reds!  More on these later...

We both immediately pushed our cavalry towards the buildings around the railhead and the White's won the race.  I'd tried to drive them off with mchine gun fire from my Austin armoured car but Andrew was able to hold on and then sensibly dismounted his cavalry and piled into the cover of the buildings
In the centre of the table both tanks were facing each other but quickly realised that they were unlikely to cause each other much damage.  In Red Actions armour is pretty impregnable: it can only be damaged by artillery or another tank and the chances of this are pretty slim.  This does seem a bit over-powered although reading contemporary accounts of tank actions backs up the notion that they rumbled around terrifying the infantry but only being susceptible to artillery or to bogging down in difficult ground.
Both tanks decided to ignore each other and concentrate on beating up the infantry:  my FT17 and an accompanying MG were able to batter the British who had been advancing through a wheatfield.  The Mark V concentrated on attacking the Red Cavalry which prevented them getting close to the railhead.

The fighting had now focused on the buildings (which was probably a mistake on my part).  The Whippet and Austin slugged it out on the left flank, taking turns to drive each other off with close range MG fire before eventually the weight of fire forced my Austin crew to abandon their vehicle and run off!

The evil imperialist lackeys were then lucky with the dice throws and a fighter turned up: these only stay around for 3 turns but it caused mayhem in this time, routing one unit and causing terror markers to pile up on others.  Simply being attacked by a plane or a tank is enough to cause a terror marker,even without a hit so this, couple with some lucky dice, meant my forces were taking a least it didn't stay around indefinitely.  And still no sign of my train...

dakka, dakka, dakka....

My brave revolutionary heroes were now looking a bit depleted and the Terror markers were coming in faster than I could remove them.  All I was able to do was rally these off each turn, only to acquire another few next turn.  This was forcing my troops to hunker down in cover or to pull back so, as the evening was also getting late, I conceded and left the White forces to enjoy their spoils of war.  Of course we decided to give one last dice throw for reinforcements and what should turn up but Tomsk the Tank Engine to save the day...too late!

This was a great game...the evening had flown by and it has definitely renewed my interest if getting these armies out more often.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Some Bank Holiday figure prepping...

Traditional UK Bank Holiday activities would normally include DIY and barbeques and I have to confess to having been out gardening for the afternoon.  I'm not a natural gardener which explains the overgrown state of my garden, but today's tasks involved indiscriminately attacking the garden with a set of heavy duty hedge-trimmers which is something even I can manage.  At least I managed to avoid slicing through the cable which is what I usually do (thank goodness for circuit-breakers!) but I did manage to devastate a couple of rose bushes which became collateral damage when I was attacking a clump of nettles and brambles!

I've nursed my scratches and stings and got on with more hobby-related tasks....prepping some figures for a game tomorrow.  I have a game arranged at my friend Andrew's and at his suggestion have dug out my Russian Civil War armies for a game of Red Actions.  These are an excellent free set of rules from the Perfect Captain website which I used to play quite regularly but haven't for, oh, at least 5 years I reckon.

All my figures are based individually which is a bit of a pain in Red Actions so I have temporarily re-based them onto a batch of 30 x 30mm bases using PVA.  If the rules inspire me I may look at permanently re-basing these.

I'll post an update after tomorrow's game...unless I lose in which case this will never be spoken of again...

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Saturday update - Forager figures and house building

Last year I picked up the Forager skirmish rules via a Kickstarter...of course as usual I haven't actually played the rules although they look pretty good and I had an interesting chat with the authors at Salute.  I was interested in how adaptable they might be for later periods such as Colonial: the authors weren't convinced that the mechanics and ranges etc would hold up for that period although I'm still fairly optimistic that they would work with minimal changes.

Actually my plans for Colonial skirmish is to use the Horse and Musket version of A Fistful of Lead.  I've played a couple of excellent games of this at Eric the Shed's (Link) and they should work very well, especially for multiplayer games.  We're planning to try this out next month so I'll need to get thinking about scenarios.

Back to Forager...the Kickstarter also included French, British and Guerilla figures (and Cacadores but I didn't sign up for them).  The figures are interesting...quite chunky and caricatured and at first I wasn't overly impressed but actually they have grown on me and I've now painted them all up.  They'll make a useful addition to my Napoleonic figures, either for Forager or for Sharpe Practice.

As it has been a wet Saturday I've also been working through some of the buildings that I'd picked up at Salute from TT Combat.  Building things really isn't my strong point.  I'm notoriously ham-fisted when it comes to any form of DIY.

The first of these to be completed is this 28mm Japanese Minka...I wasn't actually sure what a Minka was and when I googled it the first entry was an article on an American/Korean porn actress by the same name!  After a bit more googling (and hoping my wife doesn't look too closely at my browsing history) I discovered that a Minka is a traditional Japanese house for farmers, artisans and merchants.  It only took 30 minutes of so to stick it all together and I managed to avoid putting anything on back to front or upside down!  TT Combat have instructions for some of their buildings (including this one) online but worryingly they don't have any instructions for their Cowboy range which are next in my building queue!  This did seem fairly self-explanatory though so hopefully it will all make sense.  The model comes unpainted but with some coloured card for the timber frame and the roof and I reckon needs little more done to it.

Next was a 4Ground  28mmWild West store.  This looks a bit more impressive as it is pre-coloured but was, again, pretty straightforward to build.  I did find that some of the lugs that fit the roof onto the main building didn't align very well so just chopped these off!

Finally we have a 15mm ruined house, again from 4Ground.  I found this in my box of WW2 stuff when setting up for the game with Keith last week (see my previous post) and must have bought it a couple of years ago but had forgotten all about it.  Again it all went together surprisingly smoothly.  I have a good mind to send photos of these to my old woodwork teacher...I was asked to stop trying to make things in Woodwork classes as I was 'just wasting wood'.  On second thoughts that might be a bit weird...

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Belgium Day #2 11th May 1940

It has only taken us 4 months but Keith and I have finally managed to arrange game no. 2 in our Chain of Command campaign set in the German invasion of Belgium....sadly work and real life seemed to keep getting in the way for both of us.

In game #1 the Belgian and German forces clashed on the border and the Germans were eventually driven back, largely thanks to a plucky Belgian Lieutenant calling in a mortar barrage on his own position which caused heavy casualties to the Germans surrounding him.

Game #2 saw another clash of patrols near the border...clearly the Germans haven't managed to get very far into Belgium.  Our patrols clashed around the village in the table centre and the Germans were able to occupy some of the buildings with my Belgian infantry hunkered down on the far side of the fields, hoping the crops would give enough cover. 

In CoC you begin with a basic platoon and then, depending on the scenario, choose some additional support elements.  We made an initial error here as we should have made a single dice roll for this but we rolled separately which gave me more support choices than the Germans.  I chose a Forward Observer as the mortars had been really effective in the last game.  Keith had an off-table officer which meant it would give him more flexibility with his commanders.  If the Germans had been able to choose from the same values as me then they might have been able to bring on some armour which would have made a big difference.

My second bit of luck was being able to deploy my FO quickly and for his mortar barrage to come in pretty much straight away and on target, pinning a couple of German units although not inflicting too many casualties.  This continued to pound them for the duration of the game, being guided in by the FO who remained active most turns.

I then managed to roll 2 6's in my command dice which meant I activated twice before the Germans could (very flukey as I actually managed this a couple of times in the game), allowing me to occupy the terraced buildings.  This didn't work out so well though as the Germans were able to concentrate on the section in the building and eventually launched a charge backed up with a hail of grenades.  This resulted in heavy casualties on both sides but pretty much finished off the Belgian section who retreated back to the fields.

The village comes under mortar fire

I now decided to bring on the remaining sections who decided that going near the village was just going to result in getting shot.  The new sections sensibly decided to shelter by the fields and let the mortar barrage do it's job.  The Belgians can also field a Rifle Grenade section which added to the indirect fire, lobbing rifle grenades onto anything that moved.

After a couple of turns of mortar fire combined with long range exchanges of fire from the infantry sections the Germans concluded that they weren't going to get any further without taking even more casualties and began to pull back off table.  Round 2 to the Belgians although I suspect that the overall invasion is probably going a bit better for the Germans!

The Belgians deploy behind the fields

The Rifle Grenade Section

The Germans caught in the barrage

So an error with the rules and some lucky dice throws gave another Belgian win.  Mortars do seem very powerful in CoC although I think that reflects the impact the actually had on the battlefield.  It doesn't make for a very exciting game though and I think I'll need to try a different set of options for the next game...I've yet to unleash my motorcycle section or the armoured fury of the powerful Belgian T13....

Sunday, 15 April 2018

My Salute 2018

So, it's now  a day on from Salute and I've had a chance to upload the slightly random collection of photos that I took yesterday.  I spent today doing a round trip to Cardiff to drop my son back at uni , a 320 mile round trip, which hasn't done anything to ease the stiff legs from yesterday.

I posted some initial thoughts on my previous post and it's been interesting to see the number of other blogs that have also commented on the very poor lighting at Excel...hopefully the Warlords will take note and have a chat with the venue about whether this can be improved.  The alternative I guess is for traders to invest in lighting but I suspect this would be pretty costly, added to transport and travel costs etc.

Apart from the lighting, the venue also seemed noisier than usual...maybe I'm just getting old!  Despite my grumbles it was a great day out and huge thanks to the Warlords for all the work in pulling it all together.

Anyway, on with the photos. As usual there are lots of games that I missed or forgot to photograph. I usually start enthusiastically and then forget to take pictures half way round.  An honourable mention to the trio of games based around Lake Tanganyika by Peterborough Wargames Society.

A couple of shots from the 1st of 2 Zeebrugge raid games...this one as by Maidstone Wargames Society:

The Biscotti War: Garibaldini vs Bourbons 1860.  A Sharp Practice game (I think).  Sadly I missed who this was by:

Sink the Hornet by Warlord Games.  I think this was plugging their new WW2  air game Bloor Red Skies.  Although I enjoy air games (especially Bag the Hun), these haven't appealed for some reason.

Operation Taifun: the battle for Leros 1943.  This was a demo of the Battlegroup Torch rules.  Looked great...loved the seaplane:

A couple of shots of the latest Peter Pig demo game which is an update of their Western game:

Not sure what this was...looked good though:

The Warlords Dalek game:

Zero Hour: Amiens 1918 by Scarab Miniatures:

The other big Warlords game: a demo of the Sword and Spear rules

Raid at Gaskin's Plantation 1761:

Glory in the Halls of Montezuma by Ian Smith & Friends.  Superb looking game...loved the Ironclad:

The other Zeebrugge game, this time by the Naval Wargames Society:

Baggenstaket 13th August 1719: Stockholm by Dalaupprop: another stunning looking game:

Participation game of To0 Fat Lardies 'What a Tanker' game.  I haven't tried this yet although friends have given it a go with mixed reports:

It was interesting to see the University of Wolverhampton with a stand promoting their courses in Military History:

The WW1 tank...a little squat but very impressive:

Set ups of 4Grounds terrain.  As I'm beginning to put together stuff for a cowboy game these were interesting:

Blood and Bridges 1985:

A set up battle using Peter Dennis' paper soldiers.  I'd been mulling over whether or not to buy one of the books and this convinced me.  I picked up the Jacobite 1745  book as it's a period I've always quite fancied trying but wouldn't have ever shelled out for figures.  This seems like a good, low cost way to try it out...and it looked great.

Don't know what this was but it was nicely lit:

Darklands: the Desecrated Byzantii Temple apparently...

A couple of shots of the Fallout tabletop game that came out recently.  I'd had high hopes for this but it looks a lot less impressive than I'd hoped and the game was really pricey:

And lastly some of the Stormtroopers that wandered around.  I've never really understood re-enacting but I've always had a soft spot for Jawas...

And finally finally, my haul from the show.  (Erm...didn't you say something about not buying anything...)