Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Bridge Too Far

Nothing like watching a movie of the battle one is currently gaming.

Somehow I had missed this movie when it came out in 1977, but I've made up for it now.

A decent movie, once I could stop myself from trying to work out what type of representative vehicles/planes were being used (curse of the wargamer).  The all star cast made it very entertaining.

Amazing to think this was made before all the computer aided special effects we have in current movies.  The mass scenes of paradrops and armoured vehicles on the move (or not as was the case) were awesome.

The female role played by Liv Ullmann was historic and unlike two recent historical movies I've seen (Mary Queen of Scots and The Favourite, both of which turned out to be more historical than I realised when watching them - based on subsequent reading up on Wikipedia of Queen Mary and Queen Anne) there was not the (how can I put this politely in these politically correct/charged times?) token unnecessary (and highly misleading) representation of minority groups. 

And with all the death and destruction certainly not a glorifying war movie.

Holland'44 - First Five Turns

On Wednesday Richard and I started to play this game.  I'd previously read the new Beevor book and so this game was high on my priority list.  I went the Allies.

 The set-up, with the first drops.

 Arnhem, end of Turn one.
It is probably fair to say I don't know what I'm doing.

 The 82nd Airborne capture the bridge at Grave.

 While the 101st capture a bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal and the Zuid-Willems Canal.

 30th Corps powers up the road.

 End of Turn Two (night of September 17th)
The British paras are in a bit of trouble,

 The 82nd start to get their act together,
or rather I start to understand that I need to secure the dropzone.

 The 101st also need to establish a perimeter.

 Meanwhile 30th Corps seems to be making real progress.

 Disaster strikes!
Anything but a one and the British paras would have received much needed reinforcements,
My fault for not securing the drop zone.

 Turn three, morning of September the 18th,
the British paras start to try and form a perimeter.

 The 82nd finds that the bridge at Grave is under threat.

 30th Corps has taken Eindhoven and joined up with the 101st.

 Turn four and there is now a defensive position established.
However there is no capacity to try and capture Arnhem.
Strange as the initial British drop was the most successful.

 82nd are in the process of securing Grave (again).

 The Germans counterattack successfully against the 101st, 
but the 50th Tyne and Tees (my home county division) is on its way.

 Turn five and the British para's perimeter has shrunk a little.

 The 82nd have secured their rear, but really need to get on with getting a bridge over the Waal.

The night of the 17th sees all three British relief Corps in strong positions.

We are only a quarter of the way through the game, although there are some sudden victory conditions to be aware of (like no British north of the Lower Rhine).

Future progress depends on the weather and the 82nd Airborne making progress against Nijmegen.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

France Late 1939 and Early 1940

Session 7

The Situation September 1939

Army reforms start with improving the colonial troops fighting capabilities, which is effectively turning selected brigades into divisions with plenty of artillery and support troops.

The naval battle in the Eastern North Sea turned out to be ineffective.  The Axis airpower is formidable which makes it a risky affair, as the British were to later find out.

21 September 1939 Hungary join the Axis.  At the Second Vienna Conference Hungary is given North Transylvania.  Bulgaria also gets part of Romania under the Treaty of Craiova.

More news from the Balkans, on 16 October under the Treaty of Varma Yugoslavia annexes Bulgaria.


Our focus switches to building up our industrial capacity in Algeria.  We need every factory we can get.

The UK is involved in heavy fighting in southern Italy.  I send de Gaulle to help, but it is too late and I luckily pull him back before he lands.  Noting that the Danes are having success in the Dodecanese I send him to capture Rhodes, which he does on 30 November.

The UK lose some carriers in the East North Sea.  Bad as we had just decided that they would be of better use in the Pacific to counter a potential Japanese threat.

We start the production of medium tanks.  It will be a slow process.

Session 8

The USSR declares war on Finland.

Germany launches a winter offensive against Belgium and Luxembourg.

Naval battles rage in the East North Sea and Tyrrhenian sea against Axis remnants.  It takes time to catch the Italian ships, but this is done.  However the UK feet gets mauled in the North Sea (something went wrong as the British fleet was supposed to break off, but refused to budge).

The Italians launch an offensive in the southern alps.

We focus on building up our industrial capacity, including developing Algeria.  We also continue fortifying the Pyrenees.

9 January 1940 and the USSR and Finland sign a peace treaty.

In a surprise move the Belgians launch a counterattack and capture Bitburg.  The UK and France rush troops to join in the counter offensive against the Germans who must of worn themselves out with their offensive.

The British fleet remains unable to extricate itself and is losing capital ships.

However their forces in southern Italy suddenly find themselves in possession of Taranto again as the Germans have pulled out (as presumably they need troops to defend the Rhine).

We launch an attack on the Italian front, but winter fighting in the southern alps is a mug's game and we soon call it off.

There is heavy fighting on the Rhine.

The UK are starting to overrun southern Italy.

This is from January.  Come mid February, the pink wave is half way up Italy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Konstantinian Byzantines versus Sicilian Arabs

Today I had a game with Mark Woods in which my superior dice rolling skills prevailed.  Nice to have an historical match up.

 I had the advantage with deployment.

 Turn 1 and I advance aggressively with my right.

 Turn 2 and luckily I realised there was a problem with my camera settings.  Doh!
Conflict starts on the right and I immediately get off to a good start.

 Turn 3 and the Arab left flank has been wiped out.

 Turn 4 and a minor set back occurred with my Tagmatic cavalry being pushed back.

 Turn 5 and now all the Arab cavalry has been dispersed.

By Turn 6 it was all over as the Varangians and my general with the Thematic cavalry deliver the coup de grace.


And it's not all war...

 Very easy to paint as it was mostly washes.

 Tree was painted buff and then had a brown ink wash.

 Flesh was painted pale and then given a brown wash.

 I found her harder to photograph.

Probably shy.

Lovely Dark Heaven Bones miniature by Reaper.  The figure sculpture was by W Klocke and has the code number 77265.  I really like how it is coming alive out of the tree and tried to capture that effect with my painting.

I used a heavy duty varnish as the figure is quite flexible.  It is probably more glossy than I'd like, but given my challenges with varnishes it will probably stay that way for a while.

Now to make up a profile for her to use with Songs of Blades and Heroes.

France 1939

Session Six

A huge naval battle develops in the Tyrrhenian Sea, but it is the beginning of the end for the Italian Navy (as the AI just doesn't know when to give up).

Yugoslavia claims Bulgaria.  WTF?

The invasion of Sardinia is progressing well, although it was risky moving troops from North Africa there, they eventually made it through the raging seas.

The extension of the Alpine Forts is now complete.  Possibly just in time as the Italians were starting to wear down the defending forces (that luckily include a lot of Commonwealth divisions as well as French).

The extension of the Maginot Line now commences.

Naval losses for the French have been 24 destroyers, 2 light cruisers, 4 heavy cruisers and 21 submarines.  The loss of Axis naval power however has been just about absolute.

The Italians keep on attacking in the alps.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is signed.  Oh dear.

24 March and the bad news keeps coming with the surrender of China to Japan.

The extension of the Maginot line is complete and focus now switches to unifying the Government with the catch cry of "defensive stratagems" (it must sound better in French).

Germany issues an ultimatum to Poland over Danzig.  Poland refuses.

Germany declares war on Belgium.  However the Belgians, with a much smaller frontier than Germany's other victims, is prepared, and quickly backed up by Allied forces.

Hungary starts to justify war goals against us.  Another WTF moment.

Zog submits to Italy.

7 April 1939 and Germany declares war on Poland.

3 May 1939 Poland surrenders (they just weren't ready and had a very long border to protect).

22 May 1939 The USSR occupies eastern Poland.

27 May 1939 Romania cedes Bessarabia to the USSR.

The method to Hungarian madness is revealed as they demand southern Slovakia from Germany and Germany agrees.

Germany and Italy announce closer ties.

The UK invade Sicily.

In July 1939 Germany states an interest in Scandinavia and invade Denmark and declare war on Norway.  Fresh naval battles erupt in the Eastern North Sea.  Denmark is overrun, but Norway is protected (three French divisions arrive, but it is more likely the loss of Axis shipping that stops any invasion).

Iceland takes control after the fall of Denmark.

The UK conquer Sicily and start to fight into the toe of Italy.  The Italians have been slow to reinforce this front, being still stuck in the Alps.  So far they have lost a million men...

10 August 1939 and Finland accepts Soviet Demands.

We start Army Reform (which will cancel our overly defensive spirit and start to give us options).

8 September and Yugoslavia declares war on Bulgaria.

Some Artillery for my US Forces

It's not all playing computer games...

M3 75mm GMC

The packs on the side are added.

And there is an extra crew member left out

And that transfer on the front was a bugger.

A bit blurry

And then I realised I hadn't finished brushing off the flock...

But I am happy with these the two M2A1 105mm howitzers.

Altogether destined for Tunisia.
The halftrack has a coat of "matt varnish", 
the guns do not.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

France 1938 - War

Session Five

It seems we are playing the game in "historical mode".  Not sure what this will mean as we prepare for the Munich Conference.

Our navies put to sea and I courageously put French submarines in the Baltic, as well as along the Atlantic Coast and English Channel and throughout the Mediterranean.  Troops are also rushed to the frontier with Germany in a show of strength that will hopefully persuade them that we mean business.

September 1938 and Hungry renounces the Treaty of Trianon.  Not a good sign.

At the Munich Conference, England refuses to back down - no Sudetenland for Germany!

The Sudeten Crisis ensues.  It is time to make a stand.

Oh dear, Germany declares war on Czechoslovakia.  France gets a call to arms form the UK and we are at war.

I'm surprised by a sortie by the German navy and lose my subs in the Baltic and in the Eastern North Sea.  The British fleet sails to attack.

Czechoslovakia surrenders on 27 September.  Our invasion of Germany captured two areas of their Westwall.  A major naval battle develops in the Eastern North Sea.

We desperately start research improved fighting capabilities.

Good news is that we are stopping a lot of the German convoys in the Bay of Biscay.

9 October we call off our offensive.  The experience has given France the ability to perform a modest redesign of the French armoured division and we can now add some motorised infantry to what otherwise was a pure tank force.

The British fleet is in trouble extracting itself from the Eastern North Sea.  This naval battle is still continuing in late October.

Italian volunteers are spotted on the Western Front.

We research encryption and decryption.  Success continues against German convoys in the Bay of Biscay and off the Iberian Coast.

German claims Memel.  We start building alpine forts.

25 November Germany declares war on Luxembourg and calls on Italy as its ally.  We rush troops into Luxembourg just in time to save it.  Germany os now looking at Belgium, but its war declaration will take time.  We desperately need to extend the Maginot Line, but can't do that until the Alpine Forts are finished.

We advance into Sardinia and start to overrun Italian North Africa.  Numerous naval battles breakout in the Mediterranean.  But it is the mass assaults on the Italian border that are the immediate concern - the Alpine Forts are not yet complete...

Saturday, January 19, 2019

France 1937

Session Three

France joins the Allies!

National Focus is now Defensive,  permission has been given to the UK to position troops in France and there is now a good contingent of Commonwealth divisions on the Belgium border.

Research continues on improved construction which will help with fort construction (also a National Focus).

Japan declares war on China which raises world tension to 12%.

A good development is that we are now starting to research the 1936 Fighter.  Better still is that the strikes are over.

Research starts on Radio Detection as the first new division is deployed (to training command).

National Focus is trying to strengthen Government (the poor standing means we are unable to do diplomacy effectively or improve things by bringing talent into the Government).

Research is now starting on air doctrines.

With the improvement in production, training is now restarted to get some army experience.  The experience gained allows regular divisions to be upgraded to include engineer companies (but this has a bad impact on equipment and so was a valuable lesson in the need to build up stockpiles of kit).

Then we decided to focus on a Nuclear Effort.  Why not???  (Well, the reason is that it will open up another research slot).

Italy announces a claim on Yugoslavia.  We start building forts on the Italian border (and Luxembourg border).

Session Four

It is now 1938.

Yugoslavia asks for our help (and the UK's) in building up their airforce.  We agree.

Research starts on Computing Machines (some new fangled gizmo, can't see much demand for such things, but the scientists say they need them).

That Mr Hitler announces Anschluss!  That's against the Versailles Treaty.  Not happy.

The Indian National Congress win the elections.

It is announced that France is pursuing Nuclear technology.

With our increased research capability we start researching dive bombing, radar and Battlefleet Concentration.

National Focus is now Levee en Masse and that will improve our production of infantry equipment (much needed as many of our troops still don't have their full complement of weapons).

More Infantry Divisions are being created, but we have only made four so far, however we are now training three at a time.

Yugoslavia holds a fighter plane competition and we win.  A great demonstration of the skill of French industry and design.  We make a sale thereby showing our commitment to the free world.

The Spanish Civil War ends with the Treaty of Barcelona.  We now have fascists on three borders.

The Focus is now on Grand Battery, but for some reason, our Political Power, which had long been zero, is now going negative.

The Fourth International occurs.  Will there be any more?

Hitler demands the Sudetenland.  Do we go to war for Czechoslovakia?

That will be the question to be answered in our next session.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Two Kills

It's been a while, but last night I proved I had not lost any of my dazzling WOG skills.

My plane is the red and white tipped Phoenix.
Stephen B is in the Bumble Bee,
while Stephen N has one of the British Fighters,
Simon the other one.

 I get caught in a crossfire.
Both sides had been diving and climbing,
but I had just climbed back into the British sights.

 Lots of lead headed my way,
but I'm more worried about his propellers chopping up my wings!

 I get away, but I'm on fire.

 But I do not run away!

 First kill.
Took out Simon with one very lucky shot.
Till then he only had one point of damage.

 Then I line up on Stephen N's plane.
I'd already done some previous damage,
could I do any more?

There might have only been four hits on the remaining British plane, but they all hurt.
My plane had taken ten hits, four from the fire, but I was still flying.
The Bumblebee had hardly a scratch.