Sunday, October 27, 2013

Airfix Figures Converted as French Chasseurs

Painted back in the 1980s, one of my favourite conversions.  I painted the horses after two of my pet collies: Campbell a sable and Jason a grey.




The French infantry officer is a rather obvious conversion, but the US Cavalry conversion is more interesting and I think a better pose.  From memory I had to use the French infantry trumpeter head as it was closer to the US Cavalry figure scale.

In my 1/72nd scale Napoleonic collection this unit has the code C04 and my notes say the unit represents the 16th Chasseurs.

Japanese Schoolgirls With Swords

I thought it was worth linking to this interesting post, particularly as I went to a bit of effort to add my comment to the discussion.

http://seanswgcorner.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/sexy-sexist-miniatures-debate.html

I didn't actually know you can get miniatures of Japanese schoolgirls with swords, but I am not surprised. Here is a picture of what one looks like:

From http://www.lefthandminiatures.com/newcatalog/ I hasten to add, not from my figure collection, I wouldn't want anyone thinking I'm creepy because I collected figures like that.

The nearest thing to a Japanese schoolgirl I have in my collection is Ryuk:


Hardly creepy at all! 







Kursk Style Game using Blitzkrieg Commander - Part 2

With a night to reflect and more fully consult the rules the following challenges appeared:

We had not fully used the concealed troops rule to stop the Soviets from being shot up at long range by the Axis armour (minor effect in our game, but could have been significant);

I was using the wrong save roll for gun pits (didn't matter as they died anyway trying to save on a 5 or 6);

There is a correction to my initial post: the Soviet bombardment had taken out the Axis Forward Air Controller (not FAO, who was safe in his spotter plane, unable to be engaged as I couldn't find the relevant rule section - it is still a mystery).  The loss of their FAC wasted the Axis purchase of air support.

On the subject of FAOs and FACs it is important to remember they only move at the end as commanders. This makes them a bit harder to "get on target". Also important is that off table artillery assets only have one action per turn.

Back to the game ...

On turn six the Axis withdrew their assault force from the central sector and all action now focused on the Soviet right.  The Axis sent in their special mine clearing weapon.

This view from the Axis lines shows the Goliath advancing in the minefield.  They made three or four attempts.  The first one saw the Goliath blow up for no effect.  I am pretty sure the Soviets with anti-tank rifles took out another attempt, but the Axis managed to get two gaps cleared before the Soviets used their on table artillery to blast the Axis engineers who were preparing the fiendish devices to pieces. 

The Axis assault both gaps with flame panzers on turn 10.  The left hand one is repulsed, but the one on the right succeeds and the Axis armour pours through.

However the Soviets had scheduled both and airstrike and artillery (actually Katyusha rockets) bombardment for turn 11 centred on the right hand gap.

Here we see the rockets being fired.  Coming in at the same time as the airstrike in concentration on the Axis forces, the effect was deadly, probably taking out half to three quarters of the Axis armour.

We decided to end at Turn 12, which was as per the rules, although we had intended playing until we got a result.  The Axis had a good breach in the Soviet lines and had another armoured force ready to roll in.  It should have been easy to then roll up the Soviet centre.

The Soviet left sector was never engaged.  Of course that was where the bulk of the minefields where.

Archduke Piccolo commented on the first installment of this write-up that the rule set might be considered a tad capricious.  That is a fair observation.  We made heavy use of initiative and opportunity fire in our game so we got at least one shot in per turn, but relying on commanders is risky.  We had a few turns of inaction or severely constricted action, due to failed rolls on both side - it contributes to the fun, but can be frustrating if you are not prepared for it.  If the game is playing quickly then it is not such an issue, but for us we had a lot of troops and commanders were critical so it played a major part.    

That said, the most devastating thing in our game was concentrated artillery fire.  Easy for the attacker to arrange.  In our game it only came off for the Soviets as we allowed them to schedule attacks with a two turn delay.  If we hadn't done that the game would have been very different (and a lot less fun for the Soviets). 

This was only my sixth Blitzkrieg Commander game and I am still learning the rules.  One thing we used in this game that we hadn't used before was the initiative phase (as we joked "we just hadn't used our initiative in previous games").

One draw back is that the scenarios are abstract although generic situations).  I would say that using the rules for games based on actual battles is a challenge to get the scenario right, which is no different to most rules I have played.  

What we thought might be interesting is to have a linked set of games, e.g. assault followed by counterattack.

Post Script

I just realized I failed to mention points involved.  Axis was 11,200 and Soviets 7,900 however we never got all the forces engaged, never mind on the table.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kursk Style Game using Blitzkrieg Commander

So, this is what all that wire, trench markers, machine gun nests and minefields was leading to: a Kursk type battle - a deliberate attack on prepared defences.  Richard planned the scenario and all models and terrain are from his collection, the wire, nests and trenches are mine and sadly I was a bit short.

Looking north from the Soviet left.  Everyone is dug in and there is a belt of minefields in front.

Looking south from the Soviet right.  The Soviets have four formations deployed: left, centre, right and reserve.

A sign warning any Axis invaders that there are mines (maybe - of the 16 minefields, 6 were dummies and 2 were unmarked.

Being dug in makes you low profile and the wheat field has grown to limit visibility - something I hadn't considered.

The Soviet centre.  The Su85s are a bit advanced for 1943, but never mind that, just look at that beautiful wire entanglement.

First hit is scored by the Soviets against the Axis advancing on the right.  The longer range of the T34s allowed for some opportunity shots against the StugIIIs.

Disaster!  A massive Axis bombardment on turn 3 took out the majority of the Soviet equipment on their right.  I suppose they shouldn't be too concerned, the opening Axis bombardment on the centre had failed.  The above bombardment was concentrated and so much deadlier.  It took out the right flank commander along with the Soviet CO who had gone over to help maintain the 

And the Soviets had a concentrated bombardment of their own which slaughtered the Axis armour that had penetrated a dummy minefield and was engaging the Su85s.  The Axis commander must have known what was happening as he had previously had two command blunders - and this was only turn five!

Comments on Blitzkrieg Commander

The Soviets have trouble getting their artillery in to action.  We were trying an option to have scheduled bombardments called in with a two turn delay as we are planning to play with no fixed number of moves. 

Turns 4 and 5 for the Soviets were very short due to failures of command roles.

The Axis also failed command roles to bring in their air strikes and that Soviet bombardment has now taken out their FAO FAC.  This was after the Axis had won partial air superiority.

One annoying thing with the rules was searching for some information on indirect fire that turned out only to be detailed in the Hit Summary table on the very last page of the rules.  Only a minor criticism as the rules are comprehensive and straightforward allowing fast play, although for this game we were using a lot of features we had not previously gamed.

Another thought was rather than just a simple die roll to determine air superiority, it might be more fun to have a quick game of Wings of War or something.

The other observation is that such a big game might be better played as a series of linked actions. Something to think about.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Folly

What can I say?  I always had a soft spot for the Airfix French Cuirassier walking his horse.  Seeing similar figures during the Bautzen game got  me thinking and I went looking through my plastics collection.  What I had in this respect would have been painted forty years ago, and while I was fond of the horse colour - from memory Humbrol Service Brown enamel, I decided that maybe I just could repaint them as a treat.  I decided to add in a few dead horses as additional markers just for the fun of it.








The Gully

Another project finally completed.  I wanted a gully for Field of Glory.  I had the idea, but didn't really get started until I saw a post about using bark to make cliffs.  I thought I would combine that with my gully and so one side of each of the two gully halves started with a piece of bark from my garden (washed, dried and zapped in the microwave).  The body of the slope was built from polystyrene all mounted on some MDF board.  Lots of plaster and a good black undercoat.  Then a dark brown, grey for the cliffs, followed by lighter shades and finally some flock and shrubbery.  I made a felt base for the item, suitably coloured to give the correct FOG size and also to represent the terrain piece if it was necessary to accurately position any troops on it. I also embedded two cut down drinking straws to act as anchor points for trees to provide some added flexibility.

Some javelinmen hiding in ambush in the gully

Just exactly where are they?  I tried for a 3D effect in painting the felt base.

An explorer about to go on an adventurer.

The complete item, sans trees.  The novelty cave shows up better in this photo.

Some Fire and Fury Markers

It has been so long since I have played Fire and Fury that I have forgotten what these markers are called, but it was something to do with a bonus after wining a combat.  I always felt the bonus, a massive +1, was very short lived.  So, with these tow markers I have designed them so they could be added to the victorious unit and perhaps remain until it is defeated.


More significantly, the completion of these two stands is very satisfying as they had been sitting around half completed for years.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Troll That Got Away

Around 1984 I painted this for the son of a friend.  It is rare I paint fantasy figures and even rarer that I part with anything I paint.  But this one got away.

Turns out it is a Chaos Troll by Citadel Miniatures.  I only thought of these photos when I saw this post http://iron-mitten.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/the-time-capsule-from-1994.html




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Apocalypse

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2574/classic-warlord

Played this game with Richard last night, great fun.  We had to stop when we realized we had been too liberal with our interpretation of the combat process.  If you say a number then that is the exact amount that follows up, not the minimum.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bautzen Part 1

I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to participate in the Avon Napoleonic Fellowship's refight of Bautzen.  This would be a departure for me in that they use the Shako rules (while I have been strictly Napoleon's Battles since the early 1990s) and also a return to 1/72nd scale, or thereabouts, plastic figures.

The battle set up can be found here: http://avonnapoleonicfellowship.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/all-set-for-bautzen-bicentennial-bash.html

And the ANF's report on the first part of the battle here: http://avonnapoleonicfellowship.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/battle-of-bautzen-part-one.html

This post is just the view from my command as Blucher and features three units of my figures (as well as the figure used for Blucher).





In the above pictures my troops were easy to see due to their distinctive basing.  This next picture is the "Where's Wally?" shot.  It actually shows all the Prussians with the exception of von Yorck (no relation) and the towns of Litten, Klien Bautzen and on the horizon Preititz (right) and Plieskowitz (left).


And now the action starts on the Allies' right with von Zeithen unleashing his cavalry.  This was the first battle for my uhlan figures and I was happy that they forced the French into a square.  The hussars were much more successful, although short lived.


The uhlans take two casualties and break-off.  The hussars destroyed their infantry opponents who had failed to form square and then charged the guns, destroying them, but ending up blown.  They were then ridden down by the French cavalry.  So it goes.


The battle is developing well with everything working smoothly.  Great job guys!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Boardgames

After a discussion with Julian yesterday while engaging in the Bautzen refight, this morning I went in search of World in Flames.  Sadly the copy I had has presumably stayed in Canberra (or otherwise lost in transit, storage or something), so it goes.  Anyway, in doing some research I came across this post: http://www.sparknotes.com/mindhut/2012/11/06/the-7-longest-board-games-in-existence

I quote:

2. World in Flames. For those board gamers who aren't satisfied with one map they have to watch, this one has five. I don't know how so many WWII board games of incomprehensible length sprang up in the latter half of the 20th century, or what demographic these games targeted. Somewhere in France there's probably a society of old men who laugh at society while smoking and meeting to play games like World in Flames. Playing time: 100 hours.

All I can say is we never played this in France, never smoked while playing and when we started we weren't old. Playing one night a week for about a year – yep, 100 hours would be right.

But coming in at number 1:

1. The Campaign for North Africa. Prepare to have your mind blown by the fact that people have actually played this game. The map is 10 square feet. The game takes 10 players. The game includes 18,000 counters and a rulebook in three volumes. Each team consists of a Commander-in-Chief, a Logistics Commander, a Rear Area Commander, an Air Commander, and a Frontline Commander. And games have clocked in at 1500 hours, more than 2 months. It's said that no one has actually ever finished the game, which leads us to wonder; how do we know the players didn't just kill themselves after 1500 hours? Playing time: 62 days.


I have this and brought it over from Canberra (what was I thinking?).  I actually started to play it with someone who had advertised for an opponent, but after a few sessions we were still doing the set up and never really got into it.  I remember the game’s nickname was Lust in the Dust, a true work of love on behalf of the developers and those with an interest in the period.  

Saturday, October 12, 2013

No Teddy Bears Were Hurt In The Making Of This Post

While I have retired from paid work, my partner still holds down a full time job.  To her playful jibes about what do I do all day I was able to produce the following to show the actual work I had accomplished this week.



Yes, it feels like all week I was battling teddy bear stuffing to create a model explosion.  This saga had been going on for a while, ever since I first read this post: http://servicerationdistributionhobby.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/how-to-make-fake-pretend-and-for.html

While I started off eyeing my daughter’s stuffed toys and then those of my niece, I thought better of it, knowing I would never be able to live down the shame of having mutilated a teddy bear for my hobby.  It wasn't before long I was able to go to Spotlight, our local craft shop, and buy a whole bag, the size of an overstuffed pillow, of teddy bear stuffing.

Then the problems started.  It was like wrestling smoke; the miserable stuff had the consistency of a hairball or a fluff monster that collects under chairs and sofas.  Paint didn't work, PVA glue wouldn't take, the caulking material I had proved runny and messy to use (probably because it had been sitting around open for many years), in desperation I even used some of my mother-in-law’s hairspray.  That had some marginal effect, even though the act of using the spray literally blew my wannabe smoke teddy bear stuffing away.

After attacking the fluff with a skewer to pin it down I then went for the final act: the matt black spray!


Finally I had something to show for my week’s effort. It is also handy if I ever want to do a game based on the show Lost and need to represent the smoke monster.



Now I can redouble my efforts with the washer bases to give my smoke and/or explosion some weight.  I can also get to work shaping the smoke (I hope).  The caulking stuff I have has at last now dried and that is the key to turning model smoke into model explosions.  So respect for teddy bears might yet still pay off.  This is important as it will save me from these (which I found at http://www.lostateminor.com/2013/02/05/undead-teddy-bears/): 




Man Down

So, I am getting my troops ready for Sunday’s game and I was sure I had two Prussian officer stands.  My 20/25mm Napoleonics are in a display cabinet and as I was recently moving things around when I was taking some out to photograph, I might have misplaced one so I do a scan of all the shelves.  He’s nowhere to be seen.  How very odd.  Did I leave him in the studio after the photo shoot?  Most unlikely, but I check anyway.

As only I have reason to access them I am beginning to think I only had the one Prussian command stand and that I am getting confused with my 15mm Napoleonics.  But still, I remember distinctly the figure and that there is a photographic record on this blog.  How bloody weird?

My partner comes home from work and in passing I ask her if she has seen the command stand, knowing full well she will have no idea what I’m talking about.

She goes to the mantelpiece, moves a picture frame and there in pieces is the figure.

As confession is good for the soul and our relationship, not to mention my peace of mind, she tells me that it had fallen out or something when she was putting some of her items in the display cabinet.  Knowing how upset I would be, she hadn't the heart to tell me (or rather she hadn't yet had the time to tell me, not expecting me to notice one out of my thousands of figures missing).

Mystery solved.



This figure was done in the days when I thought removing bases to get that flat, close to the table look, was the way to go. 


Here’s hoping that the damage is nothing that super glue can’t fix.

Carcassonne



I had the pleasure of playing the basic Carcassonne game, plus river, with my daughter this week.



For the record, she won.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

DBA vs HotT

For my own future reference and knowing how hard it can be to find things in the Yahoo Group archives I have copied this excellent article (warts and all) by Robert Beattie.  The original can be found at:  http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/DBA/conversations/topics/40711

history Re: [DBA] Some questions about DBA vs HotT.

Thu Oct 3, 2013 2:08 pm (PDT) . Posted by: "Robert Beattie" beattieumichedu

I guess you do not know the history of the games. Regarding points first. Just assume all troop types in DBA are 2 points, like their counterparts in HOTT.

In the beginning there was DBA. A wonderful new game for historical miniatures that needed only small numbers of figures to represent large armies. Played in a small area. Standardized armies. Rules were pretty simple, until you tried to play with players from different areas when you discovered that different people had different interpretations. And so began the 20 year process for mutual acceptance of standard interpretations. Nonetheless, people did manage to play with each other. I remember the first couple years after DBA came out, at Historicon, players were walking about with 24in battle fields and fishing tackle boxes of armies looking for opponents. They would sit at a table, with armies set out, asking if they could teach you DBA. They did not have signs, Will Play DBA for Fun, but they did so.

Tournaments began. Standard elimination and Swss chess and even fancier ones. What a thrill to play against Phil or Sue when they came over.
http://www-personal .umich.edu/ ~beattie/ dbatourn/ DBAtourn. html

Then came HOTT. Almost the exact same game rules as DBA. If you knew DBA you could easily play HOTT, just add a few new troop types. There were a couple different rules, for example you could only attack an enemy on the flank if you started on the other side of that flank (now in DBA 3). This was the dream time of the two games. They were in almost perfect sync.

Then DBA changed. Phil wanted to change the game for some reason. It was actually good as it was. One of the most played games in the history of historical miniatures games. There were modifications to other times and places in the glossy monthly magazines. I wrote an article on how to play big battle games.
http://www-personal .umich.edu/ ~beattie/ bbdba.html

My local group played DBA or HOTT twice a month.

Nevertheless, Phil wanted change so wrote DBA 2. It was still a good game and people picked it up easily. No one wanted to make a house rule version of 1.1 instead of switching to 2.0. However, now DBA was misaligned with HOTT. Richard Bodley Scott, a co-author, took it upon himself to being the two back into sync. In the process he deviated from the new DBA so they they were close but not actually the same, anymore. See the differences here
http://www-personal .umich.edu/ ~abeattie/ dbasum2005/ HOTTDBAdiff. htm

Even with the many differences, players were still able to move back and forth between the two games. There was still a call for a HOTT based DBA game as the former was so much better written and had diagrams.
http://www-personal .umich.edu/ ~abeattie/ dbasum2005/ HOTTancients. htm

While some players could work their way through DBA 2 and 2.2, many sought help to understanding the subtle and sometimes complex language. For a while I presented a Commentary on the game, on the net, and then others made a very useful guide to aid in understanding the game. This Guide enabled many to play the game who could not otherwise struggle through it. Note that there many players who were able to learn the game from the original text. It is very interesting in understanding the development of the two games, that HOTT did not need any Guide. Just a short FAQ page.

So, late in first decade of the 21st century there were two games, that started out almost the same in the middle 1990's, but now diverged markedly. Most, almost all, players of both games were happy with them as they were. The HOTT players wanted no changes, the DBA players only wanted some clarifications.

Then came DBA 3. A major change from 2.2. So now the two games have almost nothing in common except the basics of elements and PIPs. By the way, the combat procedures are pretty much the same. A person who knows either cannot easily just start right in playing the other. Thus what were two very similar games have diverged because of the need for the writers to add additional touches here and there without concern for the synchronization of the two.

Bob

On Oct 3, 2013, at 5:22 AM, <matthew_bailey@ mac.com> wrote:

> First:
>
> Why is DBA limited to just 12 elements, and why could it not adopt a point-system similar to HotT?
>
> Since some armies have options that present some problematic armies with just 12 elements (I am talking those armies that typically have 12 identical elements, yet the DBMM Army lists show options for other types of elements - although many of the DBA lists do give those options in most cases).
>
> But why is it that this is an option (points for army element selection) for HotT and not DBA?
>
> Second:
>
> Why is it that DBA isn't considered for fantasy rules, and that people defer to HotT?
>
> I have a growing selection of Middle-earth armies that are nearing completion (beginning with Hithaeglir Goblins, Rohirrim, Gondor, and Haradrim), and HotT doesn't provide nearly the elements needed to support the armies in question (especially armies like the Easterlings, Haradrim, Gondor, and Orcs, where both psiloi and bows (crossbows, longbows, etc.) would be found as troop types (to say nothing of pikes among some armies).
>
> I know that HotT has options for Heroes, Monsters, magic, etc. But why have two rules systems for what is the same sort of combat?
>
> That said, DBA 3 looks really good. Pity that it can' the dressed up a little more with some illustrations and pictures.
>
> Matthew Bailey
>

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Prussian 4 IR 3rd East Prussian

My third and final unit from the Battle Honors pack I bought in 2011, this one is Nr. 4 Drittes Ostpreussisches Inf. Regt. (note the yellow shoulder straps).  The three pictures show the troops deployed in line, column and march column for Napoleon’s Battles.  I am very happy to have completed this project as when I bought the figures I remember distinctly telling myself that they were not to join lead mountain.




Not exactly trenches ...

But they will do to represent entrenchment troops is well prepared positions.  The scale is right and the cost and speed to produce was good too, just a pity there is no need for figures.


The bases are from an old CD case, the sides of the slit trench from matchsticks, plaster is used to build up the surround and then cut up cocktail sticks were used to provide the cover to protect the troops from air bursts etc.  A lick of paint and some flock and they are done.